This one comes from a fairly obscure source: Russell's Gravesend Brewery. For those not well acquainted with the geography of England, Gravesend is in Kent, the county that makes up the bottom right-hand corner. Gravesend is in the north of the county, on the south bank of the Thames, half a dozen miles downstream of London proper.
Russell's eventually fell prey to Trumans. That's why a few years of their brewing logs exist. They form part of the Truman archive.
The three logs are for1911-1912, 1917-1919 and 1929-1930. AK is in the first two, but not the last. It appears to have been yet another casualty of WW I. In July 1917 it was replaced by something called GB.I suspect that stands for Government Bitter. That is a gravity-restricted, price-controlled beer. Which is fascinating. Because the London brewers I've looked at all brewed Government Ale that was a type of Mild. Russell's is the first Bitter I've come across being brewed as a Government Ale.
[I do realise that the label comes from a totally different, unrelated brewery called Russell's. I don't have any images for the correct Russell's. And Nutty is such a great name for a beer.]
In the 1929-1930 log, there's no mention of AK. Looks like it didn't make it through the war. I suspect that many AK's never came back.
Contextualisation time. Just so you understand where this beer fitted in with the rest of Russell's range, here's a table of the full set:
|Russell Beers 1911|
|Date||Year||Beer||Style||OG||lbs hops/ qtr||hops lb/brl|
|15th Sep||1911||AK||Pale Ale||1041.3||7.52||1.29|
|20th Sep||1911||LDA||Pale Ale||1046.3||8.00||1.56|
|20th Sep||1911||PA||Pale Ale||1060.9||10.59||2.86|
|21st Sep||1911||XXX||Strong Ale||1075.9||10.05||3.24|
|27th Sep||1911||LDA||Pale Ale||1046.8||8.00||1.61|
|28th Sep||1911||AK||Pale Ale||1041.6||7.51||1.31|
|Russel brewing records document number B/THB/RUS/10 held at the London metropolitan Archives.|
As you can see, AK was the weakest beer they brewed. And the least heavily hopped. 1041º is an extremely low gravity for a beer pre-WW I, when average gravity was around 1055º.
I've not much to say further. Except "Drink AK!". Time for Kristen . . . . . .
Grist – Pretty much the standard typical AK recipe. Pale malt/s, maize and sugar. This one is perfectly simple. Choose a great UK pale malt. Since the low gravity I’d tend to lean towards the more malty ones. Cocktail works wonderfully here. Maris, as always, its great. Optic is a bit ‘fat’ for this one and will overpower with its malty/doughy goodness. For the other pale I chose the MFB pale that is wonderful with a bit more to it than the Dingemanns stuff. Standard flaked maize is fine. Its not a big part but pretty much required. This one is a bit different in that it doesn’t mix colored inverts but sticks to the standard Invert No1. I tried doing it with Golden syrup but it I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the lower gravity the beer gets and the paler it gets the more I stay away from the Golden syrup. I really do love it for a lot of reasons but here, you get a big mouthful of toffee that completely dominates the palate. So…back to my point. This one uses some caramel to get any sort of color as this beer is one of the palest you can make. If you got it, use it. If not, a touch of black strap might do. However, don’t sweat it. Really. You are more likely to add too much than not. However, I put it for full disclosure.
Hops – A single hop variety of the Goldings lineage. Because a lot of these recipes call for a lot of Goldings, I like playing around with different ‘similar’ hops along the same lines. This one I used 100% First gold. Such a nice little hop. Brings a little more oomph to the beer than EKG but still very good. There is a very light touch of dry hopping in this beer that you can add or not. It's up to you. I just wouldn’t go to much.
Yeast – For such a light beer I like a pretty clean yeast that does a good job cleaning up any funk it gives off during the whole process. Buttery ones are out. Fat ones are out. I really like the West Yorkshire first but since I didn’t want to culture any up, I chose the White Shield strain. Gives more mineral than most but it works very well with the malty sweetness and crisp finish. Nottingham…man that yeast can do pretty much anything. This is a beer that can be made and in the keg in probably 3-4 days with Nottingham. So if you are in a pinch and put off making that beer for the party next week. Here you go.