17A - British Strong - Burton Ale

BJCP Style: 17A - British Strong: Burton Ale

By definition, “real ale” is a name for draught (or bottled) beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.
-- An Introduction to Cask Conditioning Homebrew

Lots of new and different things going on with this brew. Aside from being the first time I've made the style, this beer got "Burtonized" which means adding a shitload of salts to the mash water in an attempt to match the Burton profile (that's a lot of sulfates!). In addition, this will be the first brew 100% cask-conditioned. I'm also using a higher mash temp than usual in an attempt to finish at a higher gravity: 70°C instead of 67.

This batch will undergo a primary fermentation until it slows, then will be transferred into the keg ('cask') to condition and carbonate slightly for another week... or until there is an opening in the keezer.

2020-5-19 (+45) update: 
  • Taste: this tastes like a bigger beer than it is. Big malt and slight booziness. If this were served to me blind I would guess 8-9% ABV not 5.8%. I'd probably put it on the barleywine end of things. 
  • Carbonation: 72hrs was apparently too much for this beer. The carbonation was nearly at CO2 levels and I was unable to use the aerator on the faucet (way too much foam). Fortunately with InterTap faucets I am able to switch out the spout from a "stout" style to standard. I have since tried cask-conditioning a Pale Ale for 24hrs which was not enough - I ended up bursting (40psi) for 4hrs to get it where it needed to be. Next attempt I'll go with 48hrs and see how it does. 
The full recipe is on BrewersFriend but here's the TL;DR:
  • 2020-4-4: Brewday 
  • Malts: Maris Otter, C120, Chocolate
  • Hops: Nugget, Challenger
  • Yeast: London III, 1318
  • OG: 15.4°P (64% efficiency); FG: 5°P; ABV: 5.7%
  • 2020-4-9: "Casked" (transferred to keg for conditioning)
  • 2020-4-12: tapped (moved to keezer)
Grains: Maris Otter, Chocolate, and c120


Floor Manager Steve

Mash Temp - went high this time - shooting for a higher FG

Brew session beer: homebrewed Irish Stout

Mash Complete

Big bowl of salts added to the water before mashing

Hops. The Challenger might be a bit old...

Sugar addition (it's traditional! also: OG boost), and hops

Late hops in... ready to chill

House Ale Yeast - 1318, this batch will be generation 9

Wort sample

OG came out right on at 15.4°P - recipe was expecting 15.5 but close enough

2 hours later: away we go - already airlock activity

2020-4-9 (+5): Into the "cask" which is a keg that will sit out at fermentation temp for another week or so. 

1.020 or 5°P. Hoping to get a couple more points as it conditions in the cask-keg.

2020-4-12 (+8): final gravity check and there has been no movement; still at 5°P. Even though the test jug has been burped every day; today it had minimal buildup so I thought the time was right to put the cask-keg in the keezer and tap it!

first pour - still pretty angry in there...

after settling - looks legit!

2020-4-17 (+13): half pint - almost fully clear and tasting great. Big malt, smooth and easy drinking. It's a bit over-carbonated. If I use a regular spout it will pour fine, but with the aerator it builds up a huge head of foam. I'm trying to put together a spunding valve for next time so I can dial in the cask pressure and end up with something closer to a legit pull from the hand pump. 

2020-5-16 (+42): got another cask-conditioned ale on and this time did 24hrs instead of 72 like the Burton. Seems like the sweet spot is somewhere in between. Will try 48hrs next time.

2020-5-17 (+43): full pour. keep in mind this is 100% cask-conditioned. There was 0 CO2 added. Only pushing out with 100% Nitrogen (N2). I had to do away with the aerator spout and put a regular one on - now it pours like a standard CO2 tap.