Winter is Coming: Homebrewing an Old Burton Ale

BYOB by | Oct 2016 | Issue #117
Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

The sun is receding. Temperatures are falling. Brew time is here for your winter ales. Winter means strong. And it means malt. We’ve had the warmer months for our bright, sparkling, bitter ales. Now with the hours of flannels and fireplaces upon us, I want the warm hug of bread and booze.

I’m going British with this wintery suggestion—moderate in homebrew strength, yet large enough to do the job. This recipe is conceived along the lines of an Old Burton Ale. (Read Ron Pattinson’s column from issue #68 on “Old Burton Extra” for the facts.)

Naturally, you need time to produce such a hearty yet graceful ale. By the time you read this, it might already be too late, but I say go for it anyway. For most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is longer than just December!

Because I’m suggesting a malt bomb for your holidays, I’m also going to suggest a top-notch malt I just tried: Loughran Family’s Deluxe Ale Malt from Ireland. Think Maris Otter on steroids. It produces wonderfully clear wort with a rich hit of brown bread.

We’ll augment with a little British crystal and a touch of the strangely traditional corn. No syrups or caramels in this recipe, and since I want to run it out a little faster, we’re undershooting the bitterness by a bit. Try open fermentation here, too. I think it leads to a truer expression of British yeast.

So, hurry! Brew! Ferment! And drink during those long winter nights like the ones I experience in SoCal. (Anyone know where I can get a parka refurbished?)

Winter Is Coming Old Burtonish Ale
For 5.5 gallons at 1.070 OG | 49 IBU | 9.4 SRM | 7.1% ABV

Malt
12.5 lbs Loughran Deluxe Ale malt
1.0 lbs British crystal 55L
1.0 lbs flaked corn

Mash
Single infusion at 152°F for 60 minutes.

Hops
1.0 oz Target | 11% AA | 60 minutes
1.0 oz Challenger | 7.5% AA | 10 minutes

Yeast
Wyeast 1318 London Ale III; Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale; or White Labs WLP002 English Ale

Chill and ferment without an airlock (use foil to cover) in the mid-60s. For a more “traditional” hop profile, bump the bittering addition to 1.5 oz. Condition for a minimum of 2 months, preferably 4 – 6 months.