Friday, May 21, 2010

Old Ale

Tonight I brewed an Old Ale. The predecessor of brown ale, old ale is a dark and malty style of ale that was brewed commonly centuries ago in England. It was also known as Stock ale, because it was brewed at high potency and allowed to condition for longer periods of time, either at the brewery or in the cellars of public houses themselves. In fact, as they aged they grew in value enough that barrels of old ale were sold as commodities, to be laid down in a cellar and resold when the value had increased. Old ales were also served in a bit of a different way than we tend to serve beer now; they would be blended on the spot with a portion of fresh, lightly alcoholic beer called Mild. You could get your ale mixed 50/50, or with a higher percentage of Old ale if you had the duchies to shell out.

This is my first attempt at the style, so I've asked around and gotten a lot of differing opinions on what the recipe should look like. In the end, I've decided to try a new malt, brown malt, and fill in the rest of the ingredients by choosing rich malts that I love. There's also a bit of flaked oats added to make it a little "creamy." It's all finished and tucked away in the fermentation freezer, so let's hear it for the yeast! Chomp up that sugar, guys!

Old Salty Dog
English Old Ale
5 gallons

10 lbs. Maris Otter Pale Malt
1 lb. Brown Malt
12 oz. British Crystal Malt 75L
10 oz. Light Dry Malt Extract
8 oz. British Crystal Malt 120L
8 oz. Belgian Biscuit Malt
4 oz. Flaked Oats

1/2 oz. Fuggles hops (3% AA) boiled for 60 minutes
1.5 oz. Challenger hops (5.9% AA) boiled for 60 minute.

Fermented with 2 packets of Safale S-05 Dry Yeast

OG: 1.062
FG: 1.01?
SRM: 20 (Brown)
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 34


  1. So, I'm obviously a total beer num-nut, but does this ale have a much higher alcoholic content then, than others? And what does the "conditioning" do - make it smoother or richer, etc? So interesting...and it looks really pretty. I like the idea of a creamy beer... (makes me think of rootbeer floats, know, is my frame of reference for "creamy" and "beer".)

  2. Yes, yes, and yes. It has a higher alcoholic content, which in this case comes from more malt and therefore makes it richer, with a thicker mouthfeel. Conditioning smoothes out the flavors and lets them meld together. Finally, the creaminess that oats lend to the body of the beer is, in fact, very similar to that creaminess you get in some tasty root beers. Some beers, like most sodas, have a crisp, light, body, with sharp carbonation. This beer, however, is smoother and should be served with lower carbonation. I can't wait to see how it turns out...I hope I don't botch it!