Greetings and Happy New Year!
Some time ago I stumbled upon the website of the Durden Park Beer Circle. This group of lads and lasses have been pursuing the recovery of formulas for the great British beers of yesteryear. They have published an excellent book, Old British Beers and How To Make Them, of which I have obtained a copy. Part one of the book contains a brief but fascinating history of how the members went about researching and testing their recipes. The second part of the book discusses brewing such beers and includes 131 recipes.
The recipes are all designed for the production of one imperial gallon (4.54 liters). This is where it gets interesting. Some of these recipes call for up to 10 lbs. of pale malt for one imperial gallon! In most of the recipes, as much malt is used for one imperial gallon as I use for five US gallons. I am not quite ready yet to commit 40 or or more pounds of malt to one five gallon batch of beer, however I was inspired.
The most noteworthy feature of the recipes in this book is their simplicity. Most American recipes have a long list of malts, hops, and other additives, often added in very small amounts and at varying times in the mash or boil. The recipes in this book all follow one of two mash and boil schedules and have only two to four ingredients. That's it.
In this spirit of simplicity, and guided by the Durden Park Beer Circle's fine text, I created my own simple "Old British Beer". I used British pale malt in a ratio of 7/1 lbs. with 60L crystal malt. For hops I used the last three ounces from my own hopyard. The yeast of choice was Wyeast British Ale II.
What will become of this "Old British Beer"? Time will tell, and so will I....