Wednesday, August 18, 2010

English Strong Ale (Breakspear Triple) Tasting

I cannot believe I brewed this beer all the way back in November of last year. Even young and with a lower than expected OG, I knew this was going to be a good beer with age. If you are not familiar with the Brakspear Brewery, it was one of the last remaining English breweries to use a traditional fermentation method known as the double drop fermentation. Essentially, about 16 hours after the yeast is pitched in the primary, the actively fermenting beer is dropped, via gravity, from an upper ferment vessel to a lower (think of bunk beds, but with fermenters). In theory, this may seem like a terrible idea. Why would you want to oxidize a fermenting beer? Well, this basically extinct method is what was once said to give British beers the traditional flavor. Since British yeasts are generally known as under attenuators, there may be something to the dropping that may re-invigorate the fermentation, and perhaps provide additional esters that would otherwise be undetectable in the finished beer. Thankfully, the fine folks at Wychwood Brewery purchased the equipment (including the double drop fermenters) and the rights to Brakspear a few years ago, and the tradition continues on for now.

I set-out to try to recreate this beer, on the encouragement of a coworker who has a fond love of British beers, and perhaps a little more love for the British man she married. They had the Wychwood recreation of this beer during their last trip to merry ole England, and raved. I did the best I could to scrounge up the basics of the recipe, and below is where I landed.

I am sad to say, I did not even attempt to recreate the double drop for no real good reason. However, based on how well this beer turned out, I will be brewing another 10 gallons in the fall, and I fully intend to do the double drop this go around. Also, I came in way under gravity, anticipate 1080, hit 1065. I do not know why - typically I am very predictable to hit between 72-75 efficiency every time. While I was initially upset with the lower extract, I think the finished product was so good that I may dial down the grist to hit this number instead since it is still to style.

I think the real test of the beer should be marked as a success, since the coworker raved about the beer, and has actually offered to buy all the ingredients for a re-brew (thus the 10G batch - I want half for myself). I will not take her up on the offer to buy the ingredients, while it is appreciated, I just prefer to help others see the quality product a brewer can make at home.

Tasting Notes:




Notes from my research:
Style Vitals
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.060 – 1.090 IBUs: 30 – 60 FG: 1.015 – 1.022 SRM: 10 – 22 ABV: 6 – 9%

Beer Vitals
ABV 7.2%
English Strong Ale
20 SRM
(Guess) OG 1.075
(Guess) FG 1.020

Maris Otter
Black malt

Northdown (bitter) (I may sub with target)
Cascade (Aroma)

1275 Thames Valley Ale: Henley of Thames (Brakspear Bitter)

When Brakspear moved from Henley-on-Thames to Witney in Oxfordshire, the "double drop" fermenting vessels went too. This system of fermentation is now unique to Brakspear and involves two banks of wooden vessels: fermentation begins in the top storey and after a few days the fermenting sugary and hopped extract is literally dropped into the second bank of vessels below. Dead yeast cells and unwanted protein are left behind, encouraging a cleaner fermentation.

It is this system that creates the renowned toffee or butterscotch note in Brakspear beers from a bi-product of fermentation known as diacetyl. In the case of Triple, a third fermentation takes place in the bottle: this is a naturally conditioned beer with live yeast and it will improve for several months.



11-29-2009 Brakspear Triple

A ProMash Brewing Session Report

Brewing Date: Sunday November 29, 2009
Head Brewer: Ryan Lockard
Asst Brewer:
Recipe: Brakspear Triple

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 6.00 Wort Size (Gal): 6.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 17.10
Anticipated OG: 1.080 Plato: 19.39
Anticipated SRM: 20.6
Anticipated IBU: 46.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.065 Plato: 15.90
Actual FG: 1.010 Plato: 2.56

Alc by Weight: 5.69 by Volume: 7.27 From Measured Gravities.
ADF: 83.9 RDF 69.7 Apparent & Real Degree of Fermentation.

Actual Mash System Efficiency: 61 %
Anticipated Points From Mash: 80.25
Actual Points From Mash: 65.00


% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
91.2 15.60 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row) Great Britain 1.038 3
7.0 1.20 lbs. Crystal 60L America 1.034 60
1.8 0.30 lbs. Black Patent Malt America 1.028 525

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.20 oz. Wye Target Whole 11.00 42.8 60 min.
1.20 oz. Cascade Whole 5.75 3.7 5 min.


WYeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Single Step
Heat Type: Infusion

Grain Lbs: 17.10
Water Qts: 22.23 - Before Additional Infusions
Water Gal: 5.56 - Before Additional Infusions

Qts Water Per Lbs Grain: 1.30

Dough In Temp: 0 Time: 0
Saccharification Rest Temp: 155 Time: 60
Mash-out Rest Temp: 168 Time: 15
Sparge Temp: 0 Time: 0

Runnings Stopped At: 1.010 SG 2.56 Plato

Total Mash Volume Gal: 6.93 - After Additional Infusions

Efficiency Specifics
Recipe Efficiency Setting: 75 %

Actuals achieved were:

Actual Points From Mash: 65.00
Actual Mash System Efficiency: 61

Bottling/Kegging Specifics

Bottling Date: Sunday January 10, 2010
Desired Carbonation Level: 2.30 Volumes CO2
Fermentation Temperature: 68 F

Amount In Bottles: 5.00 Gallons
Days Conditioned: 21
Carbonation Method: Natural
Priming Medium Used: Corn Sugar
Amount of Priming Used: 3.86 Oz
Amount of Liquid Added: 0.14 Gal

Mash Notes

Mashed relativly high, 155-156*

Fermentation Notes

added 1.5 oz of med toast french oak to primary and same to secondary.

Problem Notes

Missed the OG


1.5 oz med toast french Oak in primary and new dose of 1.5 oz med toast french secondary

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