There’s a style of beer served in the UK that I’ve been searching for for quite some time. It’s cask conditioned, pale in color, low in alcohol (less than 4%), and modestly hopped with American style citrus hops. There was usually at least one of these beers on tap at each pub alongside the traditional bitters, milds, and porters. I can’t find an official name for the style, other than “pale ‘n hoppy”, so that’s what this recipe’s called. The target beer is a quaint and refreshing hoppy ale that is light but doesn’t seem thin or dry. One concern with beers that have low starting gravities is that the yeast will over-attenuate and really thin the beer out. To combat this, I added 5% Carapils to the grist and mashed high to retain some body. For the hops I went with Citra for its classic over-the-top tropical fruit flavors, but balanced with some Cluster hops for a slightly herbal/floral component – a more “proper” English feel, in my opinion. All this plus cask conditioning served on a hand pump should make for a delightful outdoor session beer.
- 14.25 lb English Mild malt
- 0.75 lb Carapils malt
- 1 oz each Citra and Cluster hops (first wort)
- 1 oz each Citra and Cluster hops (10 min)
- WYeast London ESB
// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 154 for 50 min, raise to 168 and sparge w/ 9.5 gal 168 water. Collect 12.5 gal 1.034 wort. Boil 60 min, collect 10.5 gal 1.04 wort. Chill to 80, pitch a 2L starter split between two carboys (eyeballed), and ferment at 68F. Brewed 8/14/14. //
UPDATE (8/17/14): The carboys started to drop clear, so I took a sample. Gravities around 1.020 and 1.022. Tastes just a bit under attenuated and sweet, but the overall flavors are excellent – nice pleasant floral and citrus hoppy aromas / flavors and a clean pale English malt base. Very smooth bitterness. I gave both carboys a good shake to help rouse the yeast and finish out a little more; ideally i’d like to get this down to around 1.013 or 1.014 at the highest to avoid leaving it too sweet. It’s off to a great start, though!
UPDATE (8/20/14): Fermentation picked up nicely after shaking the carboys. Gravity dropped to around 1.014, so I racked one to the cask, and let the other sit for two more days to finish out a little more before force carb-ing. The clarity of this beer is seriously amazing – the description from Wyeast does note that it has very high flocculation and is very good for cask conditioning.. they weren’t kidding! Probably the clearest beer I’ve seen coming out of the primary. Now that the beer has finished fermenting, it does have a slight sharpness / tangy-ness from the hops, but it’s not overbearing. Hopefully this will mellow out a little over the next week before we tap; all of the other flavors are spot on. Added 1/2 cluster and 1/2 oz citra whole leaf hops to the non-cask keg.
KEG 1/2: This is 100% going on my Summer to-brew list. I really wouldn’t change anything about this recipe – the level of citrus hop character is fresh and spritsy, the level of body is light and refreshing without seeming thin/bland, subtle but important yeast character that plays well with the hops, and the carbonation is the bow on top of a tasty little package. After the dry hops had some time to soak in the keg, the hop flavor was perfect. I had a pint of this after mowing the grass one day in 90F weather, and man, did this hit the spot! The lower alcohol makes it even more drinkable – very easy to put back a few of these on a hot Saturday afternoon.
CASK 1/2: Very well balanced and sessionable. The malt flavors and overall body were much more pronounced than the keg beer (the higher serving temperature probably helped), but was quite smooth. The hop flavors are present, but I think it could really benefit from some dry hops seeing how the other half of the batch turned out. Really tasty, but a little lacking in carbonation because I was a little late catching the beer in the primary. I have a few different sparkler attachments for the hand pump with different sized holes, and its amazing what that does for the texture and head for the beer – without it produces a frothy head with very light carbonation, but with the sparkler gave it insanely creamy, dense head and, while it does diffuse all the carbonation from the beer, I think it gave the beer a smoother texture. Two days after tapping the cask, I really thought this beer hit its peak. I’ve read about how some slight oxidation can bring out malt flavors