I’ve been homebrewing for several years now. I don’t remember exactly how long. I know it was sometime before Debbie passed away four years ago, so it’s probably at least five years. Over the years I’ve brewed many different styles of beer. I’m trying something different for my next brew.
I found a book online at Project Gutenberg called The Ameican Practical Brewer and Tanner by Joseph Coppinger (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20663/20663-h/20663-h.htm#162). It was published in 1815. I was looking through this book and found some recipes for brewing. One recipe that said this ale was, “by many esteemed the best in England.” I decided I would give that a try.
Here are the ingredients copied from the book:
· 54 Bushels of the best Pale Malt.
· 50 lb. of the best Hops.
· 1 lb. of Ginger.
· ¼ of a lb. of Cinnamon, pounded.
This is for a yield of 14 barrels. Several Google searches allowed me to convert barrels to gallons and bushels to pounds. After doing the math I came up with 4.3 pounds of malt per gallon of beer. I plugged that into the online recipe calculator at Brewer’s Friend (https://www.brewersfriend.com) and it came up with over 10% alcohol content. That seemed a bit high to me.
I decided to do some more online research on Dorchester Ale. I found another book from 1834 that gave the alcohol content as 5.56%. With that I can work backwards to the amount of grain required. I plugged the numbers in and picked by malts to use. Some of the malts chosen were based on what I have left over from my last batch. Looking at the predicted color and alcohol content the beer looked to be close in style to an English Strong Bitter. I decided to try to get close to that style.
A couple notes here. The styles I refer to are used for judging beers in competition. You don’t have to brew to match a style; I just made that choice here to be close to a typical type of beer from England. Also, the Bitters’ styles are not actually bitter. Ask someone from Britain to explain it to you.
The recipe instructions from 1815 called for the hops to be boiled and the water added to the recipe. I wasn’t sure how to convert that to the pellets that are typically used today. So, instead of doing that I picked a typical English hop variety and calculated how much to use based on what would get me in range for the style. For the ginger and cinnamon, I calculated the amounts based on converting the amounts in the recipe.
I usually brew either 2.5 gallons or 5 gallons. My recipe below is based on 2.5 gallons and if I make 5 gallons I’ll just double it.
3.75 lbs. Muntons Pale Ale Malt
0.80 lbs. Caramel / Crystal 40L
0.70 lbs. CaraVienne
0.8 ounces East Kent Goldings (60 minutes)
2.7 grams freshly grated ginger
0.7 grams ground cinnamon
English Special Bitter Yeast
There’s a lot of chalk in the area around Dorchester, so their water contains a lot of calcium. So, I will add some calcium to the water.
According to the online calculator this should be close to the style I was trying to match. The alcohol content will be around 5.2% and the color of the beer will be close to a new copper penny after it’s lost it’s shine.
Should be interesting to see how this turns out. I’ll let you know how it tastes in a later post.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.