Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tasting Notes: 1933 Kidd AK

A.K!  Not a pale mild, but a light running bitter that seems to have been pretty popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  As I’ve said before, I tend to think of the bitters I brew as falling into two general camps: pale, hoppy, golden bitters, and copper-coloured, malty, amber bitters. Of course, the amber ones are still hoppy, and the pale ones are often malty, but you get the general idea.  I often look for an AK recipe when I’m thinking about brewing something in the first camp---and in fact, looking over my brewing logs for the last two years, I’ve brewed more AKs than any other historical beer.

In Amber, Gold, and Black Martyn Cornell says the following about the distinction between AK and other bitter beer:

“Brewers seem to have maintained a deliberate difference between the two types of bitter beer: lower-gravity, lighter coloured, less-hopped AK light bitters, served relatively soon after brewing; and slightly darker, hoppier, stronger ‘pale ales’, often designated ‘PA’, stored for some time before sending out.”

“Less-hopped” is of course a relative notion, and needs to be understood in the context of the very high hopping levels you often seem to see in these older recipes.  Cornell quotes a Victorian drinks writer, Alfred Barnard, describing an AK as “a bright sparkling beverage of rich golden colour and … a nice delicate hop flavour”.  That about sums up what I’m going for.

All the AK recipes I’ve brewed have come from the Let’s Brew recipes posted by Ron Pattinson and Kristen England at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.  Lots of them include some American six-row, giving the beer a grainy taste.  Continental pale malt and adjuncts like flaked corn  and invert sugar also seem to be quite common.  This one is based on the 1933 Kidd AK---I followed the recipe exactly (well, scaled to 3 gallons), except that I moved the final hop addition from 30 minutes to 20 minutes because I wanted a bit more hop flavour.  I usually use Wyeast 1028 or 1469 for these beers, but I was in the middle of brewing a bunch of belgian stuff when I made this, so I just used half a packet of Nottingham instead.

IMG_1879Appearance: Pale golden colour, and crystal clear.  Almost looks like I have an American lager in my glass.  Decently thick head that lingers a while.

Smell: Grainy malt.  Slight herbiness, with some citrus and blackcurrant.

Taste: More of that grainy malt, along with light lemon and blackcurrant.  Subtle but there’s plenty going on.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation is a little higher than I’d like.  Really lovely dry and lingering finish from the hops.

Drinkability & Notes: Just what I’m looking for during the summer.  Drinkable and light at 3.9%, but more complex than it first appears.

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