British Brown Ale

March’s style of the month is 13B – British Brown Ale. I am a fan of brown ales, including Newcastle Brown Ale and  Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, so I thought that this style would be fun to try.

Back to Brewing Classic Styles for a solid recipe to start from. Since we tend to like malt forward beers with caramel flavors, we decided on the Southern English Brown: Nutty Man Brown Ale.

Brew day was fairly smooth. Mash temp was supposed to be 152 and we hit that and finished up at 151. Pre boil gravity expectation was 1.037 and we hit 1.036. And we closed the day out by getting the final gravity pretty damn close: 1.043 predicted and a 1.046 realized.

After two weeks in the fermenter, the hydrometer reading was 1.012 vs a predicted 1.013. This yields a calculated ABV of 4.5%. Off to the keg it went, no secondary fermentation, and carbonation began.

I pulled a growler off a week early and took it to a company happy hour. I love getting feedback from my Improving cohorts. The beer was malty, sweet, caramelly and delicious. One person raved that it was the best beer they’d ever had – on the first glass – not the fourth. Another mimed that he was going to walk out of the party with my half filled growler.

Fortunately I also bottled up our entries for the Bluebonnet Brew-off at this same time. I say fortunately because since then I think that the beer has changed. It seems to have dried up a little bit and the caramel notes have faded. We shared some at a recent Cap & Hare meeting and folks said that it wasn’t sweet enough for a southern British Brown, but it did have good nutty flavors.

This is the first beer that I haven’t racked off to a secondary fermentor and I think that has affected the flavors. My hypothesis is that there is good bit more yeast in the beer and it is changing the flavor. A recent gravity reading still shows 1.012 so the amount of sugar hasn’t changed. To confirm my suspicion, we’ll have to brew it again (poor us) and rack the beer to secondary and cold crash and compare the resulting beer to the one that currently lives in the keezer.

I’ll do a follow up once we’ve compared the two brown ales. In the meantime, I’ve got my fingers crossed that the beer we submitted for Bluebonnet don’t dry up and retain their malty, caramelly sweetness.

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