Thursday, 9 July 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1877 Whitbread KKK

Another K Ale this week. A Strong Ale, I suppose you would call it.

And when they say Strong Ale, they mean it. This has a OG of over 1080, yet it was brewed as a draught beer. Victorians probably saw it as a session beer. But they were made of stronger stuff than us moderns.

In the middle of the 19th century, London brewers had two parallel lines of Ales. X Ales and K Ales. They were essentially the same, except the K Ales were much more heavily hopped. Initially there were X, XX, XXX, XXXX and KK, KKK, KKKK. These were pared down and by 1900 brewers like Whitbread and Barclay Perkins brewed just X, KK, KKK and sometimes KKKK.

Here's Kristen with all the brewy details . . .

1877 Whitbread KKK
Whit 1877 KKK...I love this one as I've made it before numerous times. It was one of the first I did with the KKK and KK. Just a little different. The one is actually really special b/c the logs aren't the normal Whitbread ones. This one seems to stem from the head brewers personal log book. Much more simply laid out but missing a lot of the detail that the whole logs have. So, the volumes are kind of screwy but the end result is the same. This beer has a massive quantity of what is called 'return' which accounts for a lot of the volume. The return is basically spare water thats ran through the grist to get everything out of it. When you think about this beer it tastes very very similar to the Thomas Sykes ale just a little big lower in alcohol.

So...on to the recipe then.

Grist and such
One of the simplest grain bills. A pale malt and simple invert #1. I very much like Maris otter for this as it gives probably the best character for strong English beers. I guess you could swap in some Golden Promise but it will lend a biscuit character. Stay away from Halcyon, Optic and any US if at all possible. For the invert, make your own using turbinado or just use Lyles Golden syrup...its close enough.
If you are paying attention to numbers at all you'll see that the apparent attenuation is only 60%. We'll that all comes from here. The mash temp is really high at 156F so if you feel like your are uncomfortable drop it down to'll miss a lot of this beers character. There are plenty of dextrins in this sucker to make it very robust.

Nearly 6lb of hops per barrel! Holy trucker...this thing has so many hops in it I guarantee that the IBU count is off. They are all very very fresh and all very very English. Nothing is listed for dry hopping but I would assume that there would be at least 2-4oz per bbl so go ahead and experiment.

Quite an extended fermentation for the time in that it took about 7 days. It starts quite low at 61F but then gets up to 71F quite quickly. With the Whitbread yeast there will be a bunch of fruity esters and just a touch of higher alcohol from the temperature.

Tasting notes
Beaming golden orange. Honey-glazed sugar cookies. Ginger spice and a touch of Angostura. Pears, apples and peaches. Hints of alcohol pepper but not hot. Luscious, rich and velvety on the back end. Drying hop resins and a punch of bitterness keeps the sweetness from being cloying.


MentalDental said...

This one has gone straight on the "to do" list.

Ron and/or Kristen: any chance of modifying your spreadsheets to show a conversion to °C? It's so long since I used Farenheit the numbers you quote are meaningless to me and I have to change to Centigrade before I understand what you are talking about!

Or is this just me being thick—quite possible.

Kristen England said...

I've done the metric and crappy standard for the recipe part. Do you mean you want to Celcius in the log break downs? If so, thats no problem.

MentalDental said...


that's it, Celcius in the log breakdown would make it more instantly comprehensible, to me at least!


Kristen England said...

Np. If there is enough interest I can create a log break down based in metric.

Also, is there any interest that I make a pdf of each of these that one can download and such?

Joshekg said...

I'd prefer excel over a pdf if possible.

Bill said...

What's a C? Is that a European thing?

Agree about the excel format. It can be downloaded and then converted to degrees Kelvin. F & C are so 20th century.

Kristen England said...

I won't be supplying the excel sheets. Only the pictures of them. No pdf is fine.

Rob Sterowski said...

I now think that watering of beer by landlords must have been endemic rather than occasional. Even heavy manual labourers couldn't have sunk many pints of this at its full strength, surely?

Anonymous said...

2-4 oz per bbl should be pounds per barrel, right? Or oz per gallon?

Ron Pattinson said...


that's dry-hopping, so it is correct. Though my guess would be 6-12 oz per barrel.