Batch 19: Holiday Olde Ale

My good friend and esteemed beer geek Ben has joined me today for the inaugural brew of the Aiki Brewing Company. We will brew an English Strong Ale, in time to age properly for the end of the year. This is being brewed for the 2013 meeting of the Cliver Family Annual Non-Denominational Winter Solstice Holiday Extravaganza. This is the first beer brewed by the Aiki Brewing Company, and the first Baltimore beer of Shoshin Picobrewery. Huzzah!

Ben came to me with a request to brew an English Strong Ale, which I interpreted as an Old Ale (in line with BJCP guidelines). I developed the recipe based on the general parameters for old ales over a number of sources (incl., articles, and bjcp guidelines for old ale) and a recipe I found on This recipe appeals to my growing love of simplicity in recipes, as well as reliance on process to help direct the flavor of the beer. It relies on two simple fermentable ingredients (Maris Otter: a traditional, malty, and patently British pale malt; Black Strap Molasses: a substitute for Treacle, which is a staple in English cooking and brewing), one hop addition (Willamette), a hot mash (152*) to lend some sweeter non-fermentables, a long boil (90 minutes) to caramelize some of the sugars in the wort, adding to the final sweetness, and White Labs’ Irish Ale Yeast (WLP004), which finishes a bit sweet and can lend some light fruitiness to beer. Ben procured a delicious black-strap molasses from Home Sweet Homebrew, at the advice of Hummel, a fixture and institution in Philadelphia homebrewing. This beer has great potential!

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: WLP004
Yeast Starter: 1.75L
Batch Size (Gallons): 6.5
Original Gravity: 1.088
Final Gravity: 1.02 (8/5/13)
IBU: 44
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Color: 16 (AT LEAST, probably a bit darker, deep ruby/molasses color)
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp):
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp):

20# Maris Otter
4oz Willamette (5.3% a, 3.7% b) – 90 minutes
1.5# (1 pint) Golden Barrel Unsulphured Black Strap Molasses – 15min
1 tablet Whirlfloc – 15min

Notes: Preheated the mash tun. Mashed in at 10:02 with 20# of double-crushed Marris Otter, three handfulls of rice hulls, and ~7 gallons of 160* water.  Water temp at 10:15 was 151*. Water temp at 11am was 151*. Heated 4 gallons water to 180*, transferred to bucket for sparge, drained mash tun. very first runnings: 1.070 at 139*, entire first sparge 1.067 at 143*. second sparge clocks in at 160*, very first runnings of second sparge hit 1.04 at 141*

boiled from 12:15p to 1:50p. Added whirlfloc, immersion chiller, and ~1.5 lbs (1 pint) golden barrel unsulphured black strap molasses at 1:30p. The boil stopped when we added the immersion chiller (at 1:30), so I added 5 minutes to the boil to account for the down-time on this addition. Cooled to 75*, pitched 1.75L of WLP004 starter. OG was 1.088. We put ~4 gallons in the 6-gallon carboy, and the rest of the wort (~2.5 gal) in the 5 gallon carboy. I tried to split the yeast 2/1 between carboys, but I think the larger carboy got a little more of its fair share of yeast. We pitched yeast at about 2:15pm. By 8pm, there was a high krausen in the larger carboy, and a developing krausen with lots of airlock activity in the smaller carboy. By 9am the following morning, there had been a small blowout in the 6gal carboy, but it had fallen back down by the time I got to it. The smaller carboy had an obvious high krausen that had also falled back down, but no blowout.

8/5/13: Checked the gravity – 1.022, which gives us 9.41%, woohoo! Delicious potential, with a lingering sweetness, a hint of molasses and brown sugar, and some fruit (possibly plum). No alcohol heat on the taste, but a lingering warmth in the body. This has great potential.

10/12 – bottled! mmmm tasty

5/22/17 – after a few years of sitting in my basement in Baltimore, I poured the remaining case of beer into a 2.5gal keg, force carb’d, and brought it to the 2016 NDWSHE. It was an irreproachable beer. It needs to be brewed again and age for a year or two (or three+).