Tag Archives: Style

Robert the Bruce (Scottish Ale) clone attempt 1

northfarthing.ale

Ahh Robert the Bruce – the man and the beer. We’ll start with the man that inspired the name for this beer – king of the Scots from 1306-1329 (yes I got this off Wikipedia). After brewing this I actually read quite a bit about Robert and was not surprised to see how historically inaccurate Braveheart is, but I still love that movie. It was the first ‘R’ rated movie I ever saw – I still wonder what my parents were thinking – I was maybe 11 by the time I saw it. It’s still a movie I watch once (or many) times a year. I’ve always thought the character Robert the Bruce was the most compelling in the entire film, largely because of the acting of Angus Macfadyen (FAATHHERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!).  If you can get some Robert the Bruce (or another Scottish Ale) there is a fun and simple drinking game to play while watching Braveheart – every time someone on screen says “freedom” you raise your glass and say “Robert!” and take a healthy sip, if the English are on screen you say “dirty English bastards!” and drink.

Because of my interest in both Scottish Ales and Robert the Bruce I was intrigued when a friend of mine told me about a beer called Robert the Bruce by 3 Floyds. It’s a Scottish Ale that falls between the Scottish 80/- and Strong Scotch Ale (so I guess it’s about a 100/- ale) style categories in terms of gravity. Their website says that it’s 7%, but everywhere else has it at 6.5%. I figured I’d target 6.5% and ended up hitting 7% so either way I’m in the neighborhood.  The main info floating around the internet is that it’s bittered with Centennial to about 30 IBU and uses crystal, roasted and melanoiden malts. I found a recipe (below) that was supposedly from Nick Floyd on a forum from a post about 8 years ago and figured I’d try using the recipe as a starting point as it matched up with the rest of what I could find on this beer.

OG:17plato (1.070)
FG:5.5plato (1.022)
Ibus:30 All at begining of Boil (Centennial)
90 Minute Boil
MashIn 162 F Hour Rest
Yeast: Fullers

Colour 18 Srm

Malt 85% 2Row US
1%Black Patent UK
1%Roasted UK
5%Caramunich 40 German
3% Crystal 10 US
2% Melanoidin German
3%Crystal 55 UK
Ferment on the cold side 62-65 F

From there I degassed a sample and saw that it finished at 1.016, not 1.022. I decided to keep the same grist percentages and to target 1.065 OG and 1.016 FG for 6.5% ABV.

Here is the recipe I brewed:

Mash @ 149F

85% Rahr 2 Row
5% Weyermann Caramunich I
3% Simpson’s Medium Crystal (50-60 = 55ish)
3% Briess Caramel 10
2% Weyermann Melanoiden Malt
1% Simpson’s Roasted Barley
1% Simpsons English Black Malt

20 SRM
Centennial @ 90 mins to 30 IBU
WLP002 – ferment at 62*, ramp up to 66* as fermentation slows down.

Homebrew left, Robert the Bruce right

Homebrew left, Robert the Bruce right

It ended up at 1.067 OG and finished at 1.014 (7% ABV) so the mash temp was a bit low. Like most Scottish Ales it really didn’t taste great until it had been cold conditioning for about a month – was almost cloyingly sweet and the flavors just hadn’t blended yet. As you can tell in the picture, the homebrew version is a fair bit darker, it worked out to 19.8 SRM in Beersmith, but I wanted to start with this grist anyway since it was the only recipe I could find online that looked like it could be right. When we tried this side by side the commercial bottle was a bit old and oxidized so we really couldn’t do a true side by side so I’ll just describe how the homebrew version tastes.

The aroma is all malt, caramel, chocolate, dark fruit and just a hint of alcohol and esters. When I first take a sip I get a lot of chocolate and some bitterness and it changes quickly to caramel, dark fruit and just pure Scottish Ale  malt character (sorry I can’t describe that better). It’s definitely got a clean malt profile and the perfect balance of good old Centennial bittering. It’s crazy how the flavors change within a single sip – the finish is dark fruit and than suddenly a hint of chocolate. It’s been a while since I’ve had a fresh Robert, so I can’t really say that this is cloned, but its in the ballpark for sure. Robert is a bit more drinkable so I think getting this down to 6.5% would help. My regulator also went crazy and this is slightly overcarbonated, been slowly degassing it so that would also make it a bit more drinkable. I’ll have to reduce some of the character malts to lighten the color a bit as well. I remember the malt hitting me a bit harder so I will probably increase the melanoiden next time. Some friends might be heading near the brewery in the next couple of months so if they are able to bring back some more Robert I’ll tweak the recipe and rebrew this. In the meantime I’ll probably use a similar grist makeup to make a Scottish 60/- or 70/-.

I entered this in the March Mashness competition as a Specialty Beer with the description, “This is a Scottish Ale brewed between the Scottish Export 80/- and Strong Scotch Ale styles.” Not sure what to expect – never entered a Specialty Beer. I call it “Northfarthing Ale” as I thought the description of the Northfarthing of the Shire to be a lot like Scottland – (from LOTR Wikia):

The Northfarthing or the North Farthing was the least populated part of the Shire.

It was known for having a slightly cooler climate then the rest of the Shire and snow was more common here.

The soil tended to be somewhat rocky but was good enough to allow for farming and was where the Shire’s barley for their beer came from.

There was also much hunting done here.

Cheers

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MILDly annoyed

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild

So back in November I brewed the third iteration of a Mild recipe thinking I’d nail it with the tweaks from version 2 to version 3 (long-winded blog post here), but after giving version 3 plenty of time to condition and mellow out I still don’t really like it – as gorgeous as it is in the picture above. I think the Crisp Amber malt just brought in an astringent flavor that is really unpleasant. As I mentioned in the competition post I did enter this in UMMO just to see if a trained palate can figure something else out that may be process related – it might even score well – it’s not bad I just don’t really like it and the guidelines do allow for some astringency in roast based versions.

Anyway though – dejected and demoralized I was thinking of just giving up on perfecting a Mild recipe for a while, but as I was reading through the style guideline when I was debating even entering version 3.0 I got an idea for a new recipe that I think could be quite delicious and decided not to give up!

I decided to target a more chocolate forward Mild and utilize some delicious  Simpson’s English Chocolate Malt instead of using Pale Chocolate and either Black Malt or Amber as in versions 2 and 3. I think with the amount I plan to use this should bring in plenty of chocolate flavor while hopefully adding just a bit of coffee and roast flavor. The Carastan and Extra Dark crystals will bring plenty of caramel, toffee, dark fruit, burnt sugar, and other crystal type complexity while the Floor Malted MO will bring plenty of bready maltiness (I sometimes get a hint of honey even – in a very good and pleasant way with this malt). I’m sure with everything going on there will also be plenty of toasty, nutty and other flavors mentioned in the style guidelines as well.

I might cask condition this and serve it on the Caskegerator if I can figure out a good way to bottle some for competition at the same time.

This recipe is subject to change at this point – probably brew it in a week or so:

Mild 4.0

60 Min boil

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.038 OG (factoring in .002 pts either way as I haven’t brewed a really low gravity ale since I got my own mill so I’m not sure what the efficiency will be)

1.012 FG

18 IBU (EKG most likely)

83.5% Warminster Floor Malted MO (4.5L)

6% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

6% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal (160L)

4.5% Simpson’s Chocolate Malt (430L)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

Readers – I’m open to any feedback/suggestions/criticisms that you may have on this recipe. I’m debating on the percentages, but I think it’s close. I also toyed with changing the Carastan to a darker crystal (probably the medium), but I think the combination of the Carastan and Extra Dark Crystal could be magical.

Cheers

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