The recipe chosen this year was for a Double Stout brewed at the Truman brewery in 1860 (I think I voted for the Stock Ale, though I can't actually remember). You can find the original in Ron Pattinson's book (its very slightly different from the one Al posted), and there are also recipes and brewing notes for various similar Truman beers in the Let's Brew series over on his blog (1, 2, 3).
Reading all of this can be pretty helpful in planning a brew day, but I didn't have time to go through it all until the mash was on this morning. Since we're all using very different malts (e.g. the Maris Otter I used would not have been available in the 1860s, and the brown malt probably had a very different character), I don't really think of what I'm doing here as accurately recreating a historical beer, but even with the leeway that gives me there's still the question of how to translate the information we have about the original recipe to a homebrew scale.
For instance, many of these beers went through quite complicated mashing regimes that I have no intention of imitating in my kitchen, and that leaves open the question of what temperature I should aim for in the infusion mash to get close to the listed racking gravity. The racking gravity for this beer was 1.025, so I knew I had to create a fairly dextrinous wort In his book Ron lists an infusion mash at 164, and Al suggested the same in his version of the recipe. I was nervous about mashing so high (I thought perhaps it wouldn't translate very well to the kind of full volume BIAB mash I do, because the enzymes might denature before the mash was complete), but in the end I still went for a pretty high mash temp of 160. It turns out I didn't need to worry about my efficiency (see below), though if I'd had time to do a bit of research I would probably have gone with something lower. Kristen England's suggested mash temps for Truman Stouts in the Let's Brew Wednesday series are all a lot lower, and he also warns that the proportions of brown malt in these beers tends to leave a dextrinous wort, which makes me worry that the fermentation will stall at a higher gravity. To mitigate this I pitched plenty of healthy top-cropped yeast, and gave the wort a good dose of oxygen.
I basically followed the recipe as written, though I had to substitute a small amount of Roasted Barley for some of the Black Patent, and I formulated the recipe for a slightly higher O.G. to take into account the dip in efficiency I usually see on these higher gravity beers. I used EKG all the way through (I don't think the IBU numbers mean much in these recipes, so I based my additions on the proportions listed in Ron's book), and pitched a good amount of recently top-cropped Wyeast 1318. Ron lists the Whitbread strains in his book, but I don't think this matters all that much, and I'd rather stick with the yeast I'm using anyway than go through the effort of growing up a fresh pitch.
The one other interesting process-related change I implemented was in my water profile. The Truman brewery was located in East London, right on Brick Lane in fact, so I figured I see if I could find a water profile for the London Porter brewers. Luckily Martin Brungard wrote a series of pieces on historical water profiles for Zymurgy last year, and the May/June issue has an article on London. I won't go through all the information Brungard offers about the various possible water sources (read the article!), but the final water profile he lists for brewing dark beers is below:
Calcium: 80 Magnesium: 20 Sodium: 110 Sulfate: 80 Chloride: 190 Bicarbonate: 210 Residual Alkalinity: 105As you can see, it has very high levels of sodium and chloride, much higher than you usually see in recommended water profiles, which will create a perception of sweetness and fullness in the beer (here hopefully balancing out all those hops!). Brungard comments that based on research he did for John Palmer's water book, the sodium levels in this profile shouldn't be excessive, so the beer shouldn't taste salty. I went with the following profile, aiming for a mash pH of 5.4:
Calcium: 65 Magnesium: 12 Sodium: 111 Sulfate: 78 Chloride: 193I'll be curious to see how the final beer turns out, though since I don't brew many strong dark beers I doubt its a profile I'll be using much.
As you can see from the photo at the start of this post, somehow the wort came in 10 points above the recipe's O.G. I was already aiming a few points higher, because my efficiency usually takes a big dip in these high gravity beers, but it came in even higher than that. I can think of two things that might have contributed to this. First, I used a higher setting on my drill when crushing the grist, which might have led to a finer crush. And second, after draining the bag with the mash over the kettle I let it drain further suspended over a bucket, and then added these runnings back to the kettle. I don't usually bother with this, but I was worried about my gravity coming in low. 10 points is enough of a difference that I decided to dilute the final wort down to something closer to the recipe's gravity. On the plus side, this means I might have a few extra litres that I can inoculate with some brettanomyces and keep on hand to marry with another stock ale.
Anyway, that's about it for the brew day. Al lists his writing date as March 23rd: I don't know if that means tasting notes, but I doubt I'll have this bottled by then (I have a very hectic month coming up, and at six weeks the beer would probably be a bit young anyway). I am planning on packaging this on the younger side and allowing it to condition in the bottle after that. I'll post tasting notes when I think its ready for some.