Brewing Burton Ale: International Homebrew Project

A couple of months ago I brewed two ales using 19th Century recipes from the Truman brewery in Burton.

Here’s how they turned out.

burton ale t4

The brews were part of the International Homebrew Project (IHP), organised by Velky Al from Fuggled.

Last year’s IHP, which involved brewing a strong Scottish mild, caused a turning point in my brewing.

Not only did it open my eyes to how interesting brewing history is, more importantly I discovered that very simple recipes make some of the best beers.

In fact, I’ve continued to explore simple beers ever since.

So after that experience I was obviously keen to participate again.

This year’s brew was a Burton Ale, an historic English type of beer that’s often fairly strong and sweet.

As with most beers, Burton Ale evolved and changed over time. If you’re interested in knowing more you can read about it in Velky Al’s useful summary.

It’s said that Young’s Winter Warmer is a classic example, so if you’ve tried that you’ll have some idea.

T4 Burton Ale

The recipe was similar in some ways to the mild from last year.

100% pale ale malt, but this time flavoured with Kent Goldings rather than Fuggles hops.

Here’s the recipe as I brewed it:

6 litres final volume

Malt
100% Pale ale malt: 4.55kg
O.G.:1.081

Hops
83 IBUs Cascade (6%): 43g pellets for 90 mins
42 IBUs Kent Goldings (4%): 45g pellets for 30 mins

Yeast
Windsor

Although Burton became famous as a brewing town for its water, in the spirit of the International Homebrew Project I just used my regular brewing tap water.

That doesn’t seem to have negatively affected the beer, which you can see in the photo at the top of the page.

It’s very clear with a strong red colour. When held to the light it turns bright orange.

A thick head with fine long lasting bubbles forms on top of the lightly sparkling beer.

To smell it’s like a pint of bitter. There’s nothing in particular that stands out, but it’s a tempting smell.

The taste is more distinctive. There’s a lot of sweetness, which disappears when you notice strong bitterness and flavour from the hops.

I’ve been steadily drinking this beer for the last month or so, and while it’s been good all along, it’s become smoother each time.

Despite that, I would still say it’s “cloying” (unlike Velky Al’s batch).

It’s really quite tasty and pleasant, but after a pint or so the strong bittersweetness becomes a bit much.

A great beer to drink in small doses.

Bonus Burton Pale Ale

As I wrote at the time, I used this beer, with it’s large grain bill, as an excuse to try combined grist brewing.

After getting the wort for the Burton Ale, I soaked the grain in more water to make a second beer.

This was also based on an old Truman recipe from Burton, but a pale ale rather than a true Burton Ale.

Here’s the recipe:

11 litres final volume

Malt
100% Pale ale malt
O.G.:1.050

Hops
41 IBUs Cascade (6%): 21g pellets for 180 mins
40 IBUs Styrian Goldings (4.4%): 28g pellets for 120 mins
14 IBUs Hallertauer (4.8%): 19g pellets for 15 mins
14 IBUs Saaz (4.2%): 22g pellets for 15 mins

Yeast
Windsor

As a bonus beer I didn’t have high expectations, but I’m pleased with the results.

burton pale ale

It’s a very bright beer both to look at and to drink.

Pleasant tropical fruit flavours are dominant.

The beer itself is very bitter, it reminds me a lot of the hoppy beers that turn up in England as summer ales. Brewers Gold, for example.

Sharp and refreshing: I like it.

A word of warning warning if you’re think of trying this recipe for yourself though. This has proved to be one of my least popular beers when offering it round!

I think both these ales are worth brewing again. However I wouldn’t recommend them as base beers for your fridge, as they seem to be something of an acquired taste.

Thank you Velky Al for organising another thoroughly enjoyable IHP. I’m looking forward to next year’s!

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