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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Beers

As the warmer weather starts, the temperatures go up, you think about something to quench your thirst. This is not the time to sip a barleywine or imperial stout. You want something tasty that you can really chug.

These are two of my favorite choices: ordinary bitters and mild ale. They're both easy-drinking and low in alcohol, so you won't have to concern yourself so much with how much you've had. Also, both are full of flavor.

Lastly, both are very easy to make, and inexpensive.

Once you've tried a glass of bitters, you'll see why it's a mainstay in English pubs. Light and flavorful, it's the type of beer that, in my opinion, goes well with almost any meal.

Ordinary Bitters

Style: Standard/Ordinary Bitter
Batch: 4.00 gal

Recipe Gravity: 1.034 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 26 IBU
Recipe Color: 5° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.008
Alcohol by Volume: 3.3%
Alcohol by Weight: 2.6%

Crystal 10L 0.50 lb, Grain, Mashed
Light malt extract 3.30 lb, Extract, Extract

Generic (4% AA) 1.00 oz, Pellet, 60 minutes
Willamette 1.00 oz, Pellet, 0 minutes

Dry English Ale yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast

This is an extract recipe, because we're concentrating on something that's easy and quick to produce. By using malt extract, we cut over two hours out of our brew session.

The bittering hops are listed as generic, because I usually buy whatever is cheapest that has the right concentration of alpha acids. The Willamette hops are added at the very end of the boil (or in the fermenter) for flavor and aroma.

Mild ale really, I feel, should be much more popular than it is. It's similar in alcohol content and body to bitters. But, with the addition of the darker malts, you get a much different taste, with faint overtones of toast and caramel.

Mild Ale
Style: Mild
Batch: 4.00 gal

Recipe Gravity: 1.036 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 21 IBU
Recipe Color: 21° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.009
Alcohol by Volume: 3.5%
Alcohol by Weight: 2.8%

American chocolate malt 0.50 lb, Grain, Mashed
Crystal 120L 0.50 lb, Grain, Mashed
Light malt extract 3.30 lb, Extract, Extract

Generic (4% AA) 1.00 oz, Pellet, 60 minutes

Ale yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast

The recipe is almost the same as for bitters, with two differences. As you can see, we use dark crystal instead of light, and we've added chocolate malt, for a darker color and a roasty, toasty flavor.

Mild ale, traditionally, doesn't use any type of flavor or aroma hops. I don't always follow tradition. A little extra flavor is never a bad thing.

These two recipes work well on their own, with no changes. But, it wouldn't be a hobby if it wasn't fun. There are many thing you can do to make these different. Try a different type of hops for flavor. Or, as I've done in the past, replace some of the water with a fruit juice.

Well, as I write this, it's already June, so get brewing!