One of the cool things about homebrewing is that you can really make what ever type of recipe that you would like. Also the thing that I particularly enjoy is that every beer has a story behind it. Most beers just weren’t created just because. It was either the time period, the ingredients available, the culture or the purpose.
Last year, I ended up making colonial beers in perfect timing for July 4th. I thought it would be a nice little throw back. One thing that I noticed with these beers were that they had molasses in about all of them as well as flaked corn. Also you will see fuggle hops and east kent goldings. Kinda makes sense because at the time corn was a big deal in America, and having English hops well it’s because we were a colony at the time. After doing some research, my conclusion was that molasses was just a popular adjunct that people added to their beer at the time. Almost like a fad that was popular. Personally I’m not to big of a fan of adding it to my beers because it can take over the flavor really quickly. If you ever make George Washingtons recipe you’ll know what I’m talking about.
What I think is particularly interesting about Colonial beers is that the recipes which they were making were kinda revolutionary in a sense that they were trying to make beers that tasted similar to the ones that they grew up with (porters, bitters, milds) but didn’t have all of the same ingredients to do it. The result was a new style of beer.
So if you are interested in making colonial beer and want it ready for the 4th then right now is a pretty good time to start thinking about it and get some recipes put in. I wanted to get you started with some recipes though. If you want to go all grain here is the conversion chart, and if you wanted to brew to style I would batch sparging. Also for the grain choice, personally I would prefer 6-row over 2 – row just because 6-row has an old school flavor to it being a bit more grainy in flavor as well hazy in look.
This Recipe Can Be Found In Radical Brewing:
Thomas Jefferson’s Pale Ale
5.5 lbs Dry Malt Extract (Golden Light)
2.0 lbs Flaked Corn (or ground grits)
1.0 lbs Biscuit Malt
2 oz Fuggle (60min)
1.5 oz Fuggle (10min)
English Ale Yeast
Yield: 5 gallons
Maturation: 6-8 weeks.
With this recipe it’s pretty standard for the directions. Steep your grains in water at 150 degrees for 30min and take them out. Add in the malt extract and bring it to a boil. In the beginning of the boil add 2 ounces of your hops. Boil for 50min then add 1.5 oz of fuggle hops. Boil for 10 min, end the boil, cool it down, fill it up to 5 gallon and pitch your yeast.
It’s a pretty nice beer. I made this one before. I didn’t let it sit in the bottles long enough because I didn’t make it early enough so it tasted a bit, “hot”. The massive amount of corn for this one really came through and was pretty nice. I did this one all-grain using the 6 -row which had a cool flavor to it, like I said kinda reminds me of something very old school in flavor.
This other recipe is for a colonial porter. If you made both of these it would be a pretty big contrast between the two. I found this one from BYO.
Spiced Colonial Porter
1/2 tsp Gypsum
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
5 oz Black Patent Malt
5 oz Cara-Pils Malt
5 oz 80L Crystal malt
6 lbs Dark DME
8 oz Blackstrap molasses
1 oz Mt. Hood (45min)
1 5-inch licorice stick, chopped and shaved
1 cup loosely packed fresh spruce needles
WLP001 California Ale Yeast
In 2.5 gallons of water add the gypsum and the salt. Then steep grains with a muslin bag. Slowly heat water up 170 degrees. Remove the grains and add dry malt extract. Bring to a boil. Add hops in the beginning of the boil and boil for 45min. After 45min, turn off the heat, cool down and put in fermenter. Fill up to 5 gallons. Add the licorice stick and the spruce needles. Fermentation takes about 10-14 days.
Like I said this one is going to be a bit different then the other colonial beer. This one is going to have more distinct flavors to it.