Posts Tagged 'irish ale'

AG#20 – Buckshot Flag Irish Red Ale


On the spur of the moment, having done a bit of a stock-take on my grain supplies, I decided to do a bit of a leftovers beer. I had planned on doing one in the New Year, but I had so many “odds and sods” of grains that I just wanted to get rid. I also want something malty to put in a corny keg for when I get my keg setup going next month. I don’t want anything hoppy or a beer that will deteriorate during an unknown period of storage. It might be a few weeks before I can get the cornies set up.

I’ve got a fair bit of crushed Munich malt which is probably well past its prime. I’ve also got some random small amounts of crystal and some Abbey malt leftover from my latest Belgian series. In terms of style, I’m going for some kind of Irish Red, but if the colour is off, I’ll just call it something else! It might turn out to be more “brown ale”, but I don’t mind. I’ll be adding lots of English hops that are still fresh, but the bags have been open a while.

One thing is for sure, I won’t be forgetting the Whirlfloc, like I did last time!

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 30.6 EBC
Estimated IBU: 31.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.900 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 73.5 %
0.710 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 13.4 %
0.196 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC), 3.7 %
0.143 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (3.9 EBC), 2.7 %
0.134 kg Aromatic Malt (51.2 EBC), 2.5 %
0.100 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 1.9 %
0.075 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 1.4 %
0.050 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 0.9 %
18 g Challenger [7.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 19.7 IBUs
30 g Fuggles [4.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 5.3 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
50 g East Kent Goldings [5.00 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 6.1 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.308 kg
Mash In           Add 14.86 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.35l) of 77.0 C water

07/09/2014 Brew Day – Great craic going through the malt supplies and tossing them into the bucket. Hwoever, I did measure the amounts as I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going for something too off-centre. Mashed in the morning and left the wort sitting for a few hours before doing the boil. Wort is really dark. The temperature was a lot lower than I wanted (sub 75C, will I ever get it right?!) so I added an extra litre of water from the HLT and brought it back to around 67C. Hop additions were a little spur of the moment. My concentration lapsed near the end of the boil due to domestic matters and I forgot to add my 1-min addition. I had already started the chiller and had chilled the wort to around 80C before remembering the 45g of hops and chucking them in. I also forgot to put them in a bag. Hopefully all will be fine. Run-off from boiler was great, though I’m not sure why. There was a fair amount of hops and cold break, but I did open the tap very slowly. Is this the key? Re-hydrated US-05 sachet in one of my yeast flasks in about 200ml water. Took approximately 18 hours for visible signs of fermentation.

11/10/2014 – After years of homebrewing, almost to the day, I finally kegged my first batch of beer! Cleaned the keg out with boiling water from the kettle, which put pressure on the lid. Sanitised with StarSan also, racking the solution into the keg from a fermenting bucket, using an auto-siphon. Put the keg out in the shed to condition.

09/11/2014 – I thought this recipe was going to be a bit of a disaster, it being a leftovers recipe. But it’s actually turned out excellent. There’s a lovely rich, malty flavour, which I think comes from the large percentage of Munich malt. That and the restrained charge of toasty crystal 60. The big hop additions don’t really come through, it’s just a great malty ale. Definitely parts of this grain bill that I will use in future Irish Reds. It’s a great Irish Red, but could use a little more roastiness. I’m rather embarrassed to say this, but my first pull from the keg was very disappointing, and i’ve only just realised why.. Not only did I pick up a load of yeast from the bottom of the keg, but it occurs to me that the beer dip tube and picnic tap were probably full of sanitising solution! I should have pulled a pint and chucked it away before tasting another. It has really cleared up now and the flavour improved no end.

14/11/2014 – This is a really lovely beer. A very complex grain bill, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in what is supposed to be a malty style of ale. I’ll incorporate a lot of the elements of this leftovers beer into my Buckshot Flag beer. One thing I’ll definitely be doing is using a high percentage of Munich. The Aromatic/Abbey malt is an odd addition to an Irish Red Ale, but at 2.5% it has to be lending something to the flavour. The level of roast is not high enough. There should be a roasted flavour to provide a dry counterpoint to the caramel sweetness of the rest of the grain bill. I thought that black malt was “roastier” than roasted barley but I might be wrong in that. I’ll probably keep the size of the addition the same, but replace with roasted barley to see if that makes a difference. The only problem is that the beer is already as dark as I want it. Any more might see it veer into “porter” territory. So I might decrease the dark crystal a little. The amber malt will stay the same as it’s so easy to overdo amber in a beer like this. I’ll be making a couple of changes to the hop bill too. I want to use lower AA hops for my bittering addition to get more noble flavour in the beer. It also needs an extra couple of IBUs – at the moment it’s probably more to style, but not really to my taste.

08/12/2014 – Hooray! Keg finally ‘kicked’, as the expression goes. And not a moment too soon. That means I have 5 days to get the Little Dawg gassed up and ready in time for the Xmas party. This was a good recipe, especially for leftovers, and a worthy beer to go into my first corny keg.

AG#8 – Galway Slapper Irish Pale Ale


Galway Hooker was probably the first “Irish” pale ale I tasted when I was just beginning to get into craft beer. I gave up on it for a couple of years as more hoppy pale ales came onto the Irish market and I chased more aggressive hop bombs. But I’ve recently got back into “Hooker” in a big way. I’ve come to appreciate “balance” in beer a lot more since I first embarked on this journey, and and “balance” is one thing that Hooker has in spades. It boasts a fantastic interplay of caramel sweetness and restrained hop bitterness, with the eclectic combination of hops (English Goldings & First Gold, Czech Saaz and American Cascade) lending the beer a unique and intriguing hop flavour and aroma. The level of crystal malt is fantastically judged, giving a beer a hint of toastiness that complements the other flavours so well. It’s a wonderful beer and one that Irish craft aficionados should be very proud of.

I haven’t done a lot of clone recipes in the past, but I just had to try a clone of Galway Hooker after tasting an excellent home-brewed version by one of the lads from the National Homebrew Club. I’ll be using his recipe as a guide with some adjustments based on comments that I’ve read on various homebrew forums and information I’ve gleaned from the excellent (though slightly outdated at this stage) book “Beer & Cider in Ireland: The Complete Guide” by Iowerth Griffiths.

I don’t normally have any use for First Gold hops, so I’ve done some creative substitution with a fresh bag of Fuggles. I’ve got a fresh bag of Saaz for the 5-minute addition and lots of Cascade hanging around in my fridge for that final flameout addition which contributes so much to the flavour of Galway Hooker. The grain bill includes a fair percentage of wheat malt and judicious use of Crystal 60, which gives the beer that characteristic colour and caramel flavour. I’m really going for it by using Pearl as my base malt, the same base malt used in Galway Hooker. Though, I only have 3kg of it, so I’ll be supplementing the grist with Maris Otter.


Boil Size: 25.38 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Estimated Color: 12.5 EBC
Estimated IBU: 40.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.000 kg Pale Malt, Pearl  (5.0 EBC), 64.2 %
1.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (4.8 EBC), 25.7 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 6.4 %
0.175 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC), 3.7 %
24 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 15.4 IBUs
24 g Goldings, East Kent [6.90 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop, 22.5 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Saaz [4.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.0 IBUs
35 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.675 kg
Mash In           Add 13.09 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 17.47l) of 77.0 C water

06/02/2014 – Mashed at 66.4C, a good bit lower than my target temperature of 68C. Mash started to stick and I ended up re-stirring and recirculating the last few litres out of the mash tun. Not sure what caused this – I was using 100% pre-crushed malt, so the grind won’t have been the problem. I was also using some aluminium foil tp prevent the grain bed from being disturbed when I recirculated the first mash runnings. I got only 24 litres at a pre-boil gravity of 1.040, so rather than accepting a lower volume, I topped up the pre-boil to the target 25 litres and aded 150g of light spraymalt. Completely unscientific, but hopefully I will hit my target OG.

Update: I wasn’t expecting problems running the wort from the boiler, but the trub and hops clogged up the bazooka screen again! I also got an actual OG of 1.050!! I shouldn’t have added so much spraymalt after all. So it’s going to be a bit of a turbo-charged Galway Hooker clone.

22/02/2014 – Bottled with 125g of glucose and got 33 bottles from the batch. Aroma from the beer is very good and distinctly hooker-like.

17/03/2014 – First taste. not bad, tastes a little young. I was expecting it to be in perfect condition after nearly 4 weeks in the bottle though. The colour is a little light, and it doesn’t have that toasty aroma that’s so prevalent in Galway Hooker. It seems that there’s more crystal malt needed? I was concerned that I had too much flavour & aroma hops in the beer but they actually don’t seem that prominent. Though admittedly, it’s hard to judge a beer when it’s immature. Head retention is not bad, carbonation level good. Promising, but no dice yet. At least another 2 weeks conditioning needed here. [Update: getting closer to the end of the glass – that toastiness is there in both the aroma and flavour; it’s just masked by those immature flavours at the moment, I think.

02/03/2014 – Very disappointed with this. I can’t for the life of me figure out why this still tastes so immature after 5 weeks in the bottle. It still tastes yeasty. It had plenty of time to cold-condition in the shed, given the temperatures out there at the moment. This being a clone beer, I’ll be very interested in doing a side-by-side tasting with the real thing. Though I have to give the homebrew at least another couple of weeks to make sure it’s full conditioned. So ,the faults… there’s not enough of that toasty flavour in the beer.  I suspect it’s not quite dark enough. The American hop character is not shining. This all points to more crystal malt and Cascade hops. Some more patience required, perhaps.

12/04/2014 – This is pretty pants, I have to say. Doing a side-by-side tasting with the real thing, and it doesn’t stack up very well. It’s inexplicably yeasty still. And it’s hard to get any aroma off it. the colour seems spot-on, though the Galway Hooker is filtered, and so it sparklingly clear. I’ve almost given up on this becoming good. Though I think a re-brew is in order. Not sure what I’d change about the recipe. The Hooker seems toastier, but I don’t want to use any more C60 as there’s already plenty of colour and residual sweetness in the beer. Maybe using 100% Maris Otter might be the key. I definitely won’t be using a fresh sachet of US-05.

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