Sunday, January 22, 2012

Irish Red Ale - cloned?

Way back in August I brewed an Irish Red Ale, using Newport Storm's Spring Seasonal as my inspiration. I was trying to hit as close as I could to the original, given a few "constraints" - I couldn't get me hands on amber malt, so I subbed some Vienna malt in its place, and instead of Magnum hops for bittering, I used some Northdown hops that I happen to already have. And oh, I subbed some flaked barley for the Cara-pils in the original (not sure why other than I've never used Cara-pils, instead relying on wheat or flaked barley for body and head retention). I realize that these changes could have a significant impact on the resulting beer. But still, I thought I would get something close.

Gaelic Storm vs. Newport Storm's Spring Ale

Appearance - I hit the color dead-on. Both beers are a beautiful red-brown with an off-white head. Beer Smith estimates my color at 15.6 SRM, but I think both are darker than that - maybe 18ish (though definitely not the 33 SRM that Newport Storm lists on their website). Mine is more highly carbonated and has more of a frothy head. Great clarity. Really, a pretty beer.

Aroma - The aromas are noticeably different. Mine has a more "intense" hop aroma, though, to be fair, I'm judging a bottle of Newport Storm's that is almost a year old given this is their Spring seasonal. Even though they are different, there is still an obvious similarity - both have an earthy, spiciness to them, more so in mine. Much more malt/caramel aroma coming from theirs, which isn't surprising given the grist differences noted above.

Taste - Like the aroma, there is a noticeable difference in flavor. In fact, the taste differences tend to mirror the aroma differences. Bitterness seems about right - noticeable, but not overpowering. Both have a strong malt flavor - bready/toasty, with a hint of roast, but mine is less caramelly/sweet. Again, this is understandable given my substitutions. There's a major difference in hop flavor - mine is much more assertive - very earthy and spicy, perhaps too much so. I attribute this to the EKG hops. I didn't know what Newport Storm's hopping rate or schedule was, so I had to wing it. I think I used too much. I think there is also a bot of carbonic bite adding to the perception of spiciness.

Mouthfeel - Good body. Mine is more highly carbonated, but not so much as to detract from enjoying the beer.

Overall - Mine's not a clone of Newport Storm's, which I didn't really think it would be given the changes I made. Still, both are clearly related. My beer is a pretty easy drinker - malty, but not sweet. Though I think it could use a little caramel sweetness to it. I'd also rather the hop flavor were more subdued - the spiciness overpower the malt and keeps me from enjoying this beer more. Definitely a recipe that I would try again with some tweaks.


Low Tech Brewer said...

I am using your malt bill as a base. Going with UK hops straight up @ 60m and that's it. Aiming for 23-24IBU. Will also try a slightly higher mash temp and some kettle caramelization to increase the caramel notes (rather than using specialty malts). I freak'n love that colour you got!

Here's the recipe:
76.1% Maris Otter
15.2% Vienna
02.9% Roast Barley
02.9% Wheat Malt or Flaked Barley or CaraFoam

-5.1g Calc Chloride, 4g Epsom, Acid Malt (~40-50g) for pH 5.50
-Mash @ 153F
-Kettle caramelize 4 liters of first running's, reduce by half, re-add to main boil.
-70min boil
-Fuggles or EKG or Challenger @ 60min to 23-24 IBU
-WLP005 in a 1.1L starter

Jim Lemire said...

Looks like a really nice recipe. I've never been the biggest Fuggles fan, but love both EKG and Challenger. I'm actually going to try the kettle caramelization technique for a Scotch Ale I am designing right now.

The slight touch of roasted barley is the key to the color. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out for you.

Low Tech Brewer said...

Brewed this last night, tough to tell with respect to flavour, etc... I put the first 4L in a separate pot and reduced by roughly half before re-adding to the full volume and beginning my final boil which lasted 70 minutes.

I can tell you now that my colour is nowhere close to yours. Ah! I was very specific with my measurements, definitely used 2.9% which in my recipe worked out to 130g (I'm Canadian). It has some red notes but is far and away more brown than anything. If I brew again, I may half the roasted barley used. The roast barley I am using was given to me second hand. I believed it to be muntons which has an L rating in the 500-525 range, certainly close to your specs. I err'd on the side of caution and assumed Muntons because I believe they have the highest L rating on Roast Barley. Had the product not been muntons and perhaps has less roast, the final product would be lighter not darker as is my case. Perhaps when I do get around to pulling a full pint, likely in two-three weeks from now, a full glass will bring out the red more?

Low Tech Brewer said...

A photo for reference.

Jim Lemire said...

I'm not sure your color is that off. It will definitely look different when you pour a pint of the finished beer. Nothing you can do at this point anyway, right? Let it ride and see how things turn out on the other side. Let me know how it turns out.

BTW, how did the kettle caramelization go?

Low Tech Brewer said...

I pulled a larger hydro sample yesterday and ya, I am disappointed with the colour. More brown than red. I plan to brew this recipe again in the coming weeks to see if I can get the colour more to my satisfaction.

On a positive note, the product tastes quite nice! I am not sure yet if this is a product of the kettle caramelization or the yeast or the Vienna malt, but I am picking up a distinct bready, malty flavour. With the roast finish the beer sorta tastes like nicely toasted bread. Caramel notes are present but subtle. Will have a better review once complete.

I am going to begin cold crashing tomorrow or Friday and then into the keg on Sunday or Monday.

I did my vorlauf and then collected 4L into a separate boil pot before redirecting the flow of wort into my main boil kettle. I hit the 4L with high heat and got it going to a vigorous boil while I was still collecting. The 4L boil continued through the sparge process as well as the time it took to get the full volume to a boil. Once the main kettle was boiling, I removed the 4L (now 2L) and dumped that into the main Kettle for a total pre-boil volume of ~ 28L.

Low Tech Brewer said...

Red Ale kegged Monday night. Should have our first real look this weekend perhaps. It looked a touch more Red some I am hopeful. Taste is really nice. Very malty finishing quite dry.

Low Tech Brewer said...

Sorry I don't have a final example to show you. The beer was a hit at a birthday party last weekend and we blew the keg! In the end, the colour was way to dark, as noted previously, more brown than anything. If and when I brew the beer again, I'd scale back the Roast Barley to 1% of the total grist. Many thanks for the recipe, it's a good one!

Jim Lemire said...

Glad to know it was a hit...even if it wasn't quite the color you were looking for. Hopefully cutting back on the RB will help with that.

I should probably make this recipe again sometime soon...though I have other things in the queue ahead of this. If only I had more time to brew! Cheers.

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