Thursday, 7 November 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1923 Courage KKK

Politics, eh? Odd how they can make three letters unacceptable in polite company. I feel quite sorry for poor old KKK, the beer style.

I would have had Pretty Things brew one, if the name didn't have rather bad connotations in some parts of the world. As you've probably guessd, it was the big brother of KK, or Burton Ale as pubgoers knew it. What was KKK called in the boozer? Probably Old Burton. That's the name I've seen used by other London brewers for a stronger version of Burton Ale.

Courage didn't stick to the beer codes very precisely. Their Burton wasn't called KK, but XXX. No idea why. Before WW I, it was called XX, then changed to KK in 1915, SA in 1920 and XXX in 1922, which was the year KKK was introduced. Funnily enough, KKK had a gravity just a couple of degrees lower than XX had had in 1914 (1079º).

Surprisingly - given its strength - KKK was brewed single gyle. Which meant quite a long brew length - 498 barrels in this case. An awful lot for a beer with such a high gravity. That leads me to suspect that it might have been sold on draught. It's a big contrast with the equivalent Fullers beer, Old Burton Extra, which was brewed in tiny quantities: on some accasions less than two barrels.

Courage was an odd brewery between the wars. Or at least odd in the range of beers they brewed. Sure they made Porter and Stout, Mild Ale and Burton Ale. But no Pale Ale of any kind. They got that from a brewery they owned in Alton, Hampshire. Alton was a town lucky enough to have water similar to Burton, which made it a centre for Pale Ale brewing in the late 19th century.

KKK wasn't, as you might expect, a scaled-up version of XXX. The grists and hopping rate were very different, with XXX being much closer to their Mild, X Ale. The biggest difference being the presence of black malt in KKK. And while Courage's other beers were boiled for 90 minutes, KKK was boiled for 2.5 hours.

I realise I haven't been able to tell you very much about this beer. At least I've an appropriate label. Which does confirm that this beer was bottled.

As I've nothing more to say, time to pass you over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: Everyone seems to be wanting to use all those super fresh hops that have just been harvested and what a better way to do that than with this trucker!

Malt: Three different English pale malts. Take your pick really. A nice combo of Golden Promise, Maris Otter and Optic work exceedingly well. If there is another single malt you’d like to give a go, Tipple would be a really nice choice too. Any sort of ‘American’ pale malt will work just fine. Shut up Canada, you are on the same continent so you are included also. Really any Black malt will do. It pretty much just serves the purpose of adding color so use your favorite. Invert No3. Oh yeah baby, one of my favorite things on the planet. If you have access to it, get it, if you don’t, make it. After years of experimenting and cocking about with a million ways to make it ‘perfectly’ I’ve found there isn’t a huge amount of difference between making it from scratch and the dilution method with Blackstrap molasses. How to make invert syrup…for the noobs:

Hops:  Pretty much a standard Goldings beer it would seem with a boost of BU from good old Cluster. This beer really is all about the hop so regardless of which hop you use, make sure you use the freshest you can. Also please note that if this beer is made with Mosaic, Citra, anything from New Zealand, Mandarina, or other ‘New World’ type hops, puppies die. Seriously, they literally will drop dead. If you want to be responsible for that, be my guest. This is actually the time to stop all the twattery and keep hops that smell like dirt a hobo defiled, Asian Green Grocer (the store, not person), feet,  Garlic Chives and the like in the freezer and make this bastard with some traditional English hops. Maybe I suggest some Brewer’s Gold or First Gold? Yeah, maybe I do just that… Dry hop warm (66F or so) at the end of primary ferment and yeast clearing for 3-5 days max.

Yeast: Courage yeast. Minerally, drops like a rock. Pretty little beastie.

Sundries: What about water mineral content home slice!? Nothing in the logs about any sort of needing to monkey with the water. I can tell you though that this baby really does well with a ton of minerals. Get your Calcium up to around 150ppm or higher and Sulfate around 350ppm. Take it easy on the Magnesium for sure though.


Anonymous said...

Hooray! Lets brew returns!

Oblivious said...

ptsfra 7Its interesting that there is no mild malt, 1928 Barclay Perkins KK still had a good percentage of mild mat in theirs (18%)

Kristen’s have you ever compared making Invert No 3 with a bit brewers caramel to molasses?

Kristen England said...


Mild, no mild, at 18% you really aren't going to see a huge difference especially with the goodly amount of Invert in there.

RE No3, yes, I've tried pretty much everything you can think of with regards to inverts. The problem with adding the caramel is that it just really adds color and all you have is the molasses flavor. Using the blackstrap really adds that wicked dark fruit character that regular molasses doesn't have. People tell me all the time it doesn't work to do the dilution method. I ask them how many different types of blackstrap they've used. Most just use the one at the local corner shop and add exactly what the calculator tells them. Each blackstrap is different and you'll need to add more or less to get the same result. You have to find out what works for you and keep track of it. Its much easier just to make a crap load of it!

Jeff Renner said...

Welcome back, Kristen. Good timing for me. I'm tentatively scheduled to speak on Burton ale at the BJCP section of the National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA next June, and will be brewing an example to serve.

Not sure whether to brew this strong a one or a lower OG Burton like the KKKK from earlier this week, but this gives me a fine starting point. I'll be playing around more with making invert No. 3.

Edward said...

Kristen, if dilution with molasses works to replicate No. 3 invert, what about just adding the appropriate molasses to the wort and substituting the invert with malt? It would also help in achieving the poor rates of attenuation seen in many of these recipes.

Kristen England said...


I like the 1928 Barclay Perkins KK best but feel free to take all the ideas from each recipe and make your own up. There is more than enough to go on. Whatever you do, use English hops. Massive difference in quality for sure.

Kristen England said...


You're much better off having a lower FG than monkeying with the grist. The flavor profile will really change on a beer like this with such a good amount of sugar. Much better off stopping the ferment with temp control than the grist bc frankly an all malt beer of this gravity is easy to finish with a decentnfg 1.014 or so.

Martyn Cornell said...

If this was made with London well water, I would imagine the calcium levels were indeed pretty high.