Remember the plan to do complete sets of draught beers from a specific brewery for a specific year? I didn't think you would. We've finished Barclay Perkins beers from 1942 and can move on to the second set: Kidd from 1934.
AK is another of those things I obsess about. Let's make this clear right at the start: it isn't Light Mild. AK is one of the types of Light Bitter Beer that appeared in the final decades of the 19th century. As drinkers began to demand lighter, less-alcoholic beers, brewers developped a new class of beers .
A standard Pale Ale of the 1880's had an OG in the range of 1060º to 1065º. If you brewed it properly, it took several months to be ready for sale. AK was 1045º to 1050º and was tapped within a couple of weeks. It was at the forefront of the new class of Running Bitters. After 1880, brewers had a clear incentive to turn their beers around quicker. The new system introduced that year taxed beer based on the gravity of the wort before fermentation. Brewers settled up with the excise at the end of ever y month. Which meant that the tax would have been paid on a fully-matured Pale Ale months before the beer could be sold.
In 1900, AK was as common a beer name as IPA, especially in the South. Cheaper than full-strength PA, it was often one a brewery's best-selling beers. Only one remains: McMullen's AK. I can remember just one other being around in my drinking life, Hole's (later Courage) AK, brewed in Newark. So where did they all go?
They were the victim of falling gravities after 1914, similar to Porter. Breweries had a habit of retaining the name of their most prestigious Bitter, usually PA, as they cut gravities and culled their beer range. AK, being the bottom of the Bitter pile, was often the first to be cut.
I'd love to see AK make a comeback, though I doubt it ever will. At least commercially. There's no reason why you home brewers can't bring it back to life at home.
On that optimistic note, it's time to pass you on to Kristen for all that technical, home-brewer type stuff . . . .
This little beauty is one I’ve made a few times in the limited time I’ve had the recipe. It was gyled with the pale ale but at only 1.0025 points difference they are nearly identical and you aren’t gaining anything gyling these babies up. As for the AK’s, I just love the AK’s and really do wonder why they died out like they did. The combination of grainy husky American 6-row malt with the elegant English pale malts (MO, Optic, etc) really make this beer layered. The maize is usually never enough to be ‘corny’ but you definitely get a ‘maizy’.
Grist – Optic, because of its maltiness, is my preferred choice here. Some of you always email me and ask me what you can use to replicate 6-row American malt. We’ll, other than another source of 6-row malt, not really much. I do find that distillers malt, which is usally accessable to more people does a decent job. You get some of the huskiness but not all of it. But, as always, do what you can do. The mild malt in this recipe really doesn’t do much. Leave it out if you are lazy. If not, add it. Any flaked maize will do just fine from anywhere. Even the stuff out of the grocer didn’t make a noticeable difference. The No2 is very important as it gives a nice little fruit that you can get from No1. That being said, I’ve used Golden Syrup and although different, made avery very nice product that had more toffee and caramel lightness than the fruit when compared side-by-side. However, guys, lets face it. We’ve given you numerous ways to make your own invert syrup. If you haven’t done it yet, get off your butts, make a few pounds of it and you’ll have it one hand to use when you need it.
Hops – I know, you are saying, ‘BLOODY FINALLY A BEER WITHOUT FUGGLES AND GOLDINGS!’ yes, a beer without fuggles and goldings. These hops are 100% not by choice, they are very much directly from the log. 100% Brambling Cross. What do you get out of these. Me, I get lemon and black currants. They are kinda Goldings-y but much rougher and elbowy. If you haven’t used them, give them a shot. If you can’t find BC’s, you can replace them with Brewers Gold or Cluster. You should be able to find one of them. All three hops are kinda ‘catty’ so if you aren’t a fan, pick something else!
Yeast – Again, the yeast really depends on you. For this beer, I find that the dry Nottingham strain does a very very good job. Crisp, clean, fruity. The Whitbread strain is a perennial favorite so give that a go. If you can find it, the Timothy Taylor strain is brilliant in any dry, crisp golden bitter…thing.
Advanced Mash – There was a short underlet but the single infusion worked pretty much exactly like the multi-infusion. Really, nothing special.
Brewing a Victorian AK With Amsterdam Brewery - Here are some images of my great brewing day yesterday with Iain McOustra of Amsterdam Brewery’s team down at the Brewhouse on Toronto’s Harbourfront. Cody...
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