Back in olden times, there were generally two kinds of beer in a given area. A low alcohol brown beer meant for quick consumption, and a higher alcohol brown beer meant for special occasions and blending. Do to lack of modern sanitation techniques, this “old” or “stale” ale was generally sour. The word stale used without the modern connotations that come to mind, simply meaning aged. If the beer was for blending it was a stock ale. The the ale that a bar or blender had in stock to blend with young ale to give it a bit more character. The advantage of blending it at the bar is that the customer could dictate the ratio. A winter warmer was a strong ale that was aged and unblended, meant for warming you up by the fire on a cold winters night.
CEOs, managers, directors, any of the guys in charge could all be considered Muckety Mucks. Throw in a bit of arrogance and you get the idea. An old ale is the beer in charge. Generally aged for months and even years, to develop a very complex character, it is not your every day drinking beer. With an alcohol approaching 10%, it is not taken lightly.
Unlike my American Pale Ale Fearless John’s Order of the Hop, which had massive amounts of hops added with only 15 minutes to go, this Old Ale has very minimal hop character. It only has one small edition added at the 60 minute mark.
As you might imagine, such a big beer requires a but load of malt. That is 11 lb 3.2 oz of extra light DME.
I tried to get 3/4 lb of Crystal 80L. Unfortunately, my local homebrew shop was fresh out, so on their suggestion, I used TF and S Dark Crystal 1, which the label claimed ranged from about 83L – 90L. It tasted good. It is always important to taste all your raw ingredients to get an idea what it adds. Then it is important to taste your wort and beer at every step so that you learn what each step does. In the end, we decided it was a good substitute. Experimentation, voluntarily and not so much, is a big advantage of the homebrewing.
The targeted original gravity was 1.093, and I measured 1.094 at the end.
In the US, bakers tend to reach for Corn Syrup for various pie fillings. This is not as common across the Pond. There they are more likely to reach for an invert sugar. To create invert sugar, you basically take a fructose, and split it into sucrose and glucose using citric acid. I use the lighter stuff called Golden Syrup in my world-famous pecan pie I bring to everything thanksgiving. To make Old Ale, I reach for the darker version called Black Treacle. Treacle has a distinctly strong, slightly bitter flavor, that adds an interesting layer of complexity to the beer. Both of these are a pain in the ass to find. I know two stores which I can find the Golden Syrup, but I had to search the internet to find the Black Treacle.
I pitched the very larger starter, and will ferment it until complete. I will then bottle and try a few this winter. Most of the bottles will be cellared until next winter to get the depth and complexity that an Old Ale can achieve