Last year at Firkfest I was handing out flyers promoting this site and some dude with a weird brown vest approached me and asked if I was with CaskAleLA. I laughed as I normally do towards that question and confirmed that not only was I with CaskAleLA, I was CaskAleLA. That weird vest has since become a bit of a trademark in the LA beer community as belonging to Andy Black, brewer for the soon-to-be-opened Macleod Ales in Van Nuys. That day we started a conversation that eventually evolved into my piece about their cask-focused brewery in BeerPaperLA as well as multiple pieces on this site, including the State of the Firkin. Since then Andy and I have become friends, so when he asked me to collaborate on a beer for Firkfest this year, I jumped at the opportunity.
Andy and I tossed ideas back and forth quite a bit, with him offering up his copy of The Homebrewer’s Guide to Vintage Beer by Ron Pattinson as inspiration. We both wanted to stay within the general Macleod brand, but knew that if we were going to get some attention at Firkfest, it would have to be something more than a dark mild or a bitter. We ended up settling on a 1939 Barclay Perkins IPA, a recipe that had a few things that grabbed our attention.
1939 Barclay Perkins IPA (10 gallon batch)
Pale malt 2-row – 32.35%
Pale malt 6-row – 26.47%
Flaked Corn – 14.71%
No. 3 Invert Sugar – 26.47%
Fuggles @ 90 mins – 2 oz
Fuggles @ 60 mins – 2 oz
East Kent Goldings @ 30 mins – 2 oz
Styrian Goldings Dry Hop – 2.5 oz
Yeast – Scottish Ale Yeast
OG 1044 / FG 1010
ABV – 4.50
IBU – 41
SRM – 12
First of all, over a quarter of the ferment-ables are no.3 invert sugar, which is a thick almost black sugar syrup that Andy had on low-boil for almost 20 hours to properly reduce. I’m told that no. 3 invert is almost rarely used these days and we were both a little concerned that this sugar was going to effect our color much more than the estimated SRM of 12. Also on the grist-side of things, we didn’t have access to 6-row, so we substituted regular American 2-row. In my mind, malt quality in 1939 would have been so drastically different than it is now that its hard to compare the two anyways. The flaked maize was an interesting addition, which was likely due to wartime rationing of more valuable grains. (Edit: This is actually incorrect, and corn had been used in a lot of brewing at the time. Thanks to both Andy and Ron Pattinson for pointing out my stupidity.You can see Rob’s comment below)
The hopping schedule is almost the exact opposite of a modern American IPA, with no hops going in the boil past 30 minutes, but this was one of the few recipes in Ron Pattinson’s book to have a listed dry-hop and I thought it was interesting to use an Austrian breed in an English IPA.
We brewed this on Macleod’s 10 gallon pilot system on February 13th, which just so happened to be my 30th birthday, and two weeks later Andy hooked me up with a test bottle to see how things turned out. The concerns over the invert sugar certainly were unfounded, with the color turning out quite beautiful.Something that consistently amazes me about Macleod’s special releases is the level of depth that they get in low abv beer and I’m starting to think that the invert sugar is a big part of that. Its so much more than just malt character and it really supports the great estery profile from the Scottish yeast. The bottle we had was not dry-hopped, as those would be added directly to the casks during conditioning so the final beer is still very much a mystery to me.
We will be tapping one of the pins of this historical recipe at Firkfest, but if you want an EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW of this IPA from 1939, come by the Macleod taproom this coming Wednesday March 18th!
And the day before, Tuesday March 17th, which happens to be St. Patrick’s Day, Macleod will be tapping another beer they are bringing to Firkfest – the Doug King 2015 Pro-Am Homebrew Competition winner – Hooligan IPA. This, I’m told, is a much more modern English-style IPA that clocks in at 6.1% ABV. This is only a 5 gallon pin as well, so make sure you get there early, its going to go quick!
If you can’t make it out, both beers will be available at SoCal’s best beer festival – Firkfest, which is happening Saturday March 21st, 2015 at Farmer’s Park in Anaheim. Tickets are available here and will likely sell out soon.