Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1885 Kirkstall AK

Another AK. And from another brewery whose beer I drank. Though by that time it was part of Whitbread and when it revived cask it did so under the brand BYB (Bentley’s Yorkshire Breweries), not Kirkstall. BYB, also taken over by Whitbread, had brewed at Woodlesford, just to the East of Leeds.

At 1050º, Kirkstall’s example of the style is at the top end of the gravity range. I’ve had to guess the FG, so it could have been either fuller or drier than the recipe shows.

The recipe is simplicity itself: just pale malt and sugar. I’ll be honest. I’ve no idea exactly what type of sugar it was. The brewing record says “Trier Maine Saccharine”. Given the quantity involved, it can’t be the artificial sweetener saccharine and must be some type of sugar. I’ve plumped for No. 1 invert.

One place where the recipe is complicated is the hopping. There are four types of hops - Farnham (1884), English (1884), English (1883) and English (1884) – plus 50 lbs of something described as “Wylde's hop substitute”. The last is very unusual. Hop substitutes were allowed after 1880, but I can’t remember seeing them in a brewing record. Only hop concentrates, and even those don’t turn up until 1944. 

1885 Kirkstall AK
pale malt 7.75 lb 77.50%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.25 lb 22.50%
Fuggles 195 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1050
FG 1012
ABV 5.03
Apparent attenuation 76.00%
IBU 60
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 195 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale Timothy Taylor


Anonymous said...

That looks really nice and I may want to try making that. You'd said the K was for keeping -- do you have a sense how long it was aged? And would it have picked up any oak from the barrels or would it be neutral in that way?

A Brew Rat said...

I saw that "Wilde's hop substitute in your table yesterday, and curiosity made me google it.'s%20hop%20substitute&f=false

Advertisement from 1879, and it mentions that it has been in use for years. Described as "vegetable tonic bitters" - what do you supposed that means?

Ron Pattinson said...


AK would have been consumed within a couple of weeks of racking. Despite the K standing for Keeping, it wasn't aged.

Ron Pattinson said...

A Brew Rat,

interesting. I'm amazed that a hop substitute was allowed before 1880. But it does clearly state: "Allowed by Act of parliament, and sanctioned by the Excise", so it must have been legal.

Brett Matthews said...

With so much invert sugar in the mash tun, how would have this beer achieved an FG of 1.012? I've been playing around with this recipe in Beersmith and even with a high mash temp - which is counter to making a dry, light ale - the FG hits sub 1.010 even when using a lower attenuating yeast like West Yorkshire. To me, mashing high but adding invert sugar to lighten body is like driving with a foot on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time.

Ron Pattinson said...

Brett Matthews,

who knows? That's the racking gravity, so if they weren't priming they would have left some fermentable material in the beer to condition it in the cask. The FG when the beer was consumed would have been lower.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information about the K. I guess nothing should surprise me about British brewing records anymore.