Ale brewing in the UK is making a comeback. When I say ale, I’m being quite specific. I don’t mean lager, or stout, I mean proper brewed beer. Ales, bitters, milds, brewed in wooden kegs rather than metal containers. Having a distinctive nutty or chocolatey taste. The sort of thing that people in Britain get their leg pulled about. After all, it is best served warm.
I know a lot of people from outside the UK do not understand this. The idea that any sort of beer is best served warm. A good real ale is best served at room temperature. It tastes a lot better that way, that’s just the way it is.
The generic term “Ale” covers a number of different subtypes, and here we’ll take a look at four of the main ones.
1. Bitter. It is a typically English term for what most of the rest of the United Kingdom calls pale ale. Made primarily from malt and coke, and roasted.
The drink has been brewed in the United Kingdom since the 15th century, and probably contains slightly fewer hops than most other forms of ale. Bitter is probably the most common form of ale served in the United Kingdom. It is unlikely that you will ever go into a public house that does not have at least one pump.
2. Mild. A mild ale is generally a younger beer, brewed in much the same way as a bitter. However, it is served much earlier after the fermenting process. It is not uncommon for mild ale to be strengthened by adding an older aged beer to it. But a genuine mild ale is simply a younger form of bitter. Breweries such as Sadler’s ale has produced a variety of milds, and the distinct differences in texture, flavour and even colour is quite remarked.
3. Pale ale. A pale ale uses a lighter malts. This is simply achieved by reducing the roasting process that most malts and hops go through before being introduced to the brewing process. Because of their light colour they can also be known as wheat beers, golden ales and many other generic terms.
Many describe the taste of a pale ale as substantially smoother than, for example, a bitter. Which I suppose makes sense.
4. Real Ale. Real ale is a purist form of beer. Unlike most other beers it is not pasteurised, and is alesco unfiltered. Purists will insist that it is served from a cask, and that’s no effervescent agent is added. This means that the pumps inside bars and pubs will require the landlord to manually pump the beer to the glass.
In the United Kingdom, the campaign for real ale lobbies strongly for the rights of real ale drinkers. Their demands include a different set of taxes for traditionally produced beers, insisting that they are part of the heritage of the country and need to be protected.
There are many other types of beer in United Kingdom, most are an acquired taste. While lager, served cold is probably still the most popular drink, over the past 20 years there have been more and more ales and real beer is making a comeback. They seem increasingly popular.
I suppose everyone wherever they are in the world has their favorite beer or ale. Some like Guinness, other Indian Pale ales or even a Coors or Budweiser. What about people who love to create their own ale though? What is their favorite? Without doubt the number one all-time favorite home brew ale to make is Goat Scrotum Ale.
I’d have to admit that the name doesn’t make it sound great, but don’t let that put you off. This ale is very popular to make because there are so many variations of great tasting ales. It can taste of ginger, sweet chocolate, or even licorice, there are so many combination’s of flavors available to you.
This ale began under the name of Tumultuous Porter in the early years of the nineteenth century and the spicy dark drink became popular until prohibition, after which it disappeared for a while. Fortunately Charlie Papazian re-discovered it and brought the ale back for us all to enjoy.
That’s the history out of the way, but just how would you go about making your own ale?
First of all you will require these ingredients:
Crystal Malt – 1 Pound
Dark Malt Extract – 5 pounds
Crushed Barley Malt – 0.25 pounds
Hallertauer leaf hops – 3.5 ounces
Black Patent Malt – 0.25 pounds
Brown sugar – 1 cup
Blackstrap Molasses – 1 cup
Corn Sugar – 1 pound
Gypsum – 2 teaspoons
Irish Moss – 1 teaspoon
Ale Yeast – 1 pack
In addition there are some other optional ingredients you can use a mixture of including grated ginger root (3 ounces), brewing licorice (2 inches) Spruce Tree Essence (2 tablespoons), Dried Chili (Up to 10), Crushed Juniper Berries (0.25 cups) and Baker’s Chocolate or cocoa powder (6 ounces).
That’s the ingredients dealt with now on to the recipe itself.
The first step is take the Crystal Malt and steep it for one hour in brewing water at 150 degrees F
Remove any remaining crystal malt then add the malt extract, both types of sugar and the molasses.
Heat it up to a gentle boil then make sure everything has dissolved.
Then add in quarter ounce of the hops plus any of the additional ingredients such as grated ginger and boil for
quarter of an hour then add in a further half ounce of the hops and boil for another quarter hour.
Next you put in the patent malt, barley malt and boil for guess how long? Yes another quarter hour!
Don’t worry we are nearly finished – add quarter ounce of the hops, the gypsum and moss and boil for another quarter of an hour, but this time add in the rest of the hops two minutes from the end.
Then allow it to cool down to room temperature before straining it into a fermenter.
You add then yeast once the temperature is below 80 degrees F.
After the fermentation process has completed add in about 3/4 cup of corn sugar before you bottle it.