Five weeks ago, I made my first ‘full-mash’ or ‘all-grain’ brew. I followed a recipe that was supposed to emulate Timothy Taylor Landlord, an award-winning pale ale (CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain 1982, 1983, 1994 and 1999). I had two good reasons for selecting this particular recipe. Firstly, the recipe was fairly simple, mostly pale malt with a little black, and easily available hops – Goldings and Styrian Goldings. The description of the brewing can be found in a previous blog. Secondly, Taylor Landlord is an excellent beer.
After fermenting for a week, the specific gravity was steady at 1.014, so I transferred the beer to a pressure barrel, primed with a little (50g) sugar. The book I was following the recipe from (Brew Your Own British Real Ale by Graham Wheeler, CAMRA Books, 2009, 3rd Edition) recommended leaving the beer to mature one week for every 0.01 of original gravity. As the OG of my brew was 1.043, I waited for four weeks, though not without the odd sneaky sip.
As the beer was supposed to emulate Taylor Landlord, I drank it side by side with a bottle of Landlord that had been kept at the same temperature as the cask.
Seen side by side, the Landlord was a shade or two lighter than my brew.The head of my brew was slightly whiter and consisted of slightly larger bubbles, though this could have been a result of the method of dispense.
The Landlord was smooth with a warm malty start, and a burst of hop bitterness at the end. There are slight hints of caramel and it is clean and crisp throughout.
My beer, which in a flash of creative genius I dubbed ‘Brew 1’ also starts with a warmish malty taste, and yes, it’s followed by a touch of hoppy bitterness, but nowhere near as ‘clean’ as the Landlord. I thought the hops were far more noticeable about three weeks ago, at my first crafty sip. They seem to have faded a little now, though a distinctly hoppy bitterness continues in the mouth long after the swallow. Also present in the taste are occasional hints of acetaldehyde, though this is by no means as prominent as it has been in previous kit beers that I’ve brewed.
Overall, my biggest disappointment in this beer is that it still tastes rather like homebrew. It’s a subtle flavour complex that I can’t describe, but I’m sure all homebrewers are familiar with. I don’t know what it is. I wish I did.
Having said the above, the beer is tasty and really quite drinkable. It presents well with a bright white head, which lasts well, and only a very slight protein haze. I’m drinking some as I write this.
So, winner? Loser? I’m going to withhold a judgement for now. On the pro side, I’m happy to drink it and happy to offer it to any guests who may visit Alebagger Towers and Brewery. It does taste like beer, it does have a nice malt/hop balance and it slides down quite easily. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, after all, this is my first brew, and young Timmy’s been at it for 164 years.
On the con side, it’s still a bit ‘homebrewy’.
Next, I’m going for a darker, stronger brew. I’ll report back in due course.
For those interested in the technicalities, here’s the recipe I followed:
The brew is 19 litres.
3510g Pale Malt 25g Black Malt
Mashed at 66C for 90 minutes
Start of boil – 25g Golding hops, 25g Styrian goldings.
Boiled for 90 minutes.
Last 10 minutes of boil – 16g Styrian goldings plus 3g Irish Moss
Mash liquor 8.8l
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