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Old Man Ale Clone v3

My two previous attempts at cloning Coniston's Old Man Ale resulted in very tasty brews, but beers that had no real resemblance to the original. Both were extremely dark, nearly black in color, while Coniston's beer is a nice reddish brown. Both of my attempts tasted more (to me) like a Foreign Export Stout than a brown ale. I believe that's due to including too much roasted barley in the grist. This time around, I'm going with a little less than a third of an ounce in a 2.5 gallon batch. I'm hoping that will achieve the right color profile, and allow me to begin focusing on adjusting the flavor.

Ingredients

4.25 pounds Maris Otter Pale Malt
8 ounces British Crystal 60-75L Malt
0.30 ounces Roasted Barley
0.55 ounces Mount Hood hops pellets @ 4.2% AA (60 min.)
0.45 ounces Challenger hops @ 7.8% AA (10 min.)
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the mash
1/4 tsp. Gypsum in the mash water
1/4 tsp. Brewtan B in the boil (15 min.)
1/8 tsp. Yeast nutrient in the boil (10 min.)
3 gallons 16 ounces Brita-filtered starting water (plus a few ounces to reduce foaming)
Safale S-04 English Ale yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm

According to the PicoBrew Recipe Crafter, this beer should have the following characteristics:
  • BJCP Style: 13.B British Brown Ale
  • Original Gravity: 1.053 SG (1.053 SG actual)
  • Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • IBUs: 22
  • SRM: 12
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons (2.5+ gallons actual)
The High-Efficiency mash schedule was used unmodified for this batch. This starts with a Dough-In step at 102F for 20 minutes, followed by a 30-minute step at 152F, a 60-minute step at 154F, and a Mash Out at 175F for 10 minutes. Wort is then extracted from the machine and heated to a boil.

A 60-minute boil is specified, with the following steps:
  • 60 minutes: Add Mount Hood hops
  • 15 minutes: Add Brewtan B
  • 10 minutes: Add Challenger hops and yeast nutrient
  • 0 minutes: Pump into keg for chilling
The plan is to free-ferment the beer in a plastic fermenter I have free at the moment. The S-04 yeast is said to produce some sourness at higher fermentation temperatures, which is a flavor element I remember in the real beer. It's intended to ferment between 59F and 68F.

Post-Brew Notes and Comments

09/02/2018:  There was a fair amount of foaming on top of the step filter of the Zymatic during the Dough-In stage of the mash. Adding a few drops of anti-foam didn't seem to phase it. I wondered if maybe the keg had run dry, and it looked as though it might have. I added some additional water at that point but the foaming seemed to continue. 

After the Dough-In, the Zymatic lost its WiFi connection and appeared to re-run the last few minutes of the process before moving on to heat the wort to the first mash step at 152F.

After brewing, the beer looked a bit lighter than I expected when I transferred it into a sanitized kettle for chilling. However, in the fermenter it looked much, much darker. I'm hopeful it will come out closer to the coppery color of the Coniston beer than my previous two versions.

09/03/2018:  The temperature of the wort was still 75F by the time I was ready to crawl into bed, which is too high for the S-04 yeast, so I moved the fermenter into my mini-fridge to cool down overnight. This morning it was down to 51F. I put the wort into my BrewJacket temperature control system and set the temperature to 64F, in the middle of the yeast's optimum range. As of this moment, the temperature is up to 58F.

09/04/2018: The BrewJacket has held the temperature steady at 64F since not long after I pitched the yeast. I worried that the yeast was bad, as I saw no change in gravity for well over 12 hours. Before I went to bed at midnight, I checked on the beer and saw a thin krausen appearing on top of it, so I did not pitch more yeast. Today, the gravity has dropped from 1.053 SG down to 1.039 SG, with most of that drop having taken place between about 8:30pm yesterday and 5:45pm today.

09/05/2018:  The temperature has been increased to the upper end of the yeast's range, 68F, to try to finish out the fermentation. The gravity is now 1.015 SG. This yeast has made slow but steady progress through the sugar so far, so it may yet get down to the expected 1.010 SG final gravity. We'll see.

09/06/2018: Gravity is 1,014 SG. I've unplugged the temperature control, but it's holding at 68F.

09/08/2018: Gravity has held steady long enough now that I believe fermentation has ceased. Since the beer I'm trying to replicate here is a slightly hazy brew, I'm not going to use gelatin finings on this batch. The original beer wasn't overly carbonated, so I'm planning to bottle this today using three small carbonation tablets per bottle ("low carbonation").

A sample of the beer taken from the last of the beer in the fermenter after bottling looked about the same color as I remember the real Old Man Ale looking when I last had it. The flavor had the same tartness that I remember from the real beer, combined with some nice caramel and toasted barley notes. I'm hopeful that it will compare well to a bottle of the real beer when I can find another.

09/14/2018: Below you see a bottle of my version (unlabeled, on left) and the Coniston version (labeled, on right). The color looks to be about right. My version has a caramel aroma (with a touch of diacetyl because it's not totally finished bottle conditioning). The flavor starts with a toasty malt, followed with a bit of caramel, and a hint of tartness. The stout-like roastiness I picked up in the two previous versions is not here, which is what I hoped for. In a week or so, I'll compare my version with my remaining bottle of the real beer and see how it tastes relative to Coniston's.

 

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