Recently I purchased a pin, along with all the components needed to serve Real Ale via a gravity dispense.
This thread will be where I document my progress this fall in developing a recipe and technique to brew as real an ale as possible. I feel that homebrewing often falls into the "we don't have to do this because we brew on a homebrew scale" trap. Much like how the GBF guys are trying to mimic a modern German brewery, I'm working to mimic a 1900-1950ish British brewery. I'm becoming convinced that little details like this do matter. A co-worker is a Belgian beer geek, and takes a similar approach to trying to replicate Belgian brewing practices. So far all his beer have been spot-on. Why not try the same approach with British ales?
No LODO mash techniques will be used. Great care will be taken to ensure that oxidation only occurs once the cask has been vented. Here's the plan:
Brew a test batch using my old method. I'll be taking gravity readings several times a day throughout fermentation, to try and get as much data as possible. This batch will be bottled, likely bottle conditioned. Might keg condition and get a bottling wand, so it can be tasted and critiqued sooner.
Any recipe tweaks will be applied to batch #2, which will be the first cask batch. Mashing will proceed as normal, fermentation will be like batch #1. When the beer is several points from FG, I'll rack to the cask, along with primings and isinglass finings. This beer is intended to be served on Thanksgiving, so timing will be determined by data from the first batch.
I'll rebrew a third batch for Christmas, again tweaking based on data from the prior batch. Here's where things might get different. Fermentation will be open, with a top cropping strain. (I'm leaning towards Wyeast 1318: London Ale III.) Yeast will be roused and skimmed multiple times throughout the fermentation, in an effort to keep the yeast multiplying and scrubbing O2
. Beer will be racked out from underneath the yeast and into the cask, again with primings and finings.