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Black Sheep Ale

I've previously brewed the Black Sheep Bitter recipe from the Graham Wheeler book and it worked out really well so I'm going to try the stronger, darker Black Sheep Ale recipe from the same book.

Brew day

Here's the recipe for Black Sheep Ale.

Recipe Specifications
Date: 21 August 2022
Batch Size (fermenter): 24.00 L   
Estimated OG: 1.042 SG
Estimated Color: 25.9 EBC
Estimated IBU: 36.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Water profile: Ca:72 Mg:12 Na:9 SO4:94 Cl:89

Amt        Name                                              Type        %/IBU    
29.43 L    Tesco Ashbeck                                     Water       -        
2.90 g     Calcium Chloride (Mash)                           Water Agent -        
2.40 g     Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash)                         Water Agent -        
2.00 g     Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash)                   Water Agent -        
0.70 ml    Lactic Acid (Mash)                                Water Agent -        
3.600 kg   Crisp Maris Otter (7.9 EBC)                       Grain       83.5 %   
0.400 kg   Crisp Torrified Wheat  (3.9 EBC)                  Grain       9.3 %    
0.250 kg   Crisp Light Crystal (150.0 EBC)                   Grain       5.8 %    
0.060 kg   Weyermann Carafa II  (1150.0 EBC)                 Grain       1.4 %    
0.60 g     Calcium Chloride (Sparge)                         Water Agent -        
0.50 g     Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Sparge)                       Water Agent -        
0.40 g     Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Sparge)                 Water Agent -        
0.20 ml    Lactic Acid (Sparge)                              Water Agent -        
17.00 g    Progress [8.10 %] - Boil 60.0 min                 Hop         16.0 IBUs
14.00 g    Challenger [6.10 %] - Boil 60.0 min               Hop         9.9 IBUs 
9.00 g     Fuggles [5.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min                  Hop         5.2 IBUs 
17.00 g    East Kent Goldings (EKG) [6.80 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop         4.9 IBUs 
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 7.0 mins)                  Fining      -        
1.0 pkg    West Yorkshire Ale (Wyeast Labs #1469)            Yeast       -        

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.310 kg
Name       Description                      Step Temperat Step Time     
Mash In    Add 22.06 L of water at 70.9 C   67.0 C        60 min        

The hops for today's recipe are, as usual, all sourced from Crossmyloof.

Its unusual to see four different hop types in a British ale. Brew day went smoothly and I collected just less than 24 litres into the fermenter.

The sample was a nice mid-brown colour and came in 1.043, just one point above the target.

We're having a seriously hot summer here so the ground water temperature meant that I could only realistically get the temperature down to 24C with my immersion chiller. I put the fermenter in the brew-fridge and had it down to 20C by the evening when I pitched the one-litre starter of Wyeast 1469.

Kegging day

After leaving my Admiral IPA in the fermenter for 3 weeks proved to be such a success I've decided to do that with all my ales now. Therefore I kegged this one after the requisite 21 days and it had cleared up nicely leaving a nice light brown ale.

The ABV for this one is 4.7%, just 0.1% above the real thing. I got one keg and two bottles from the left-overs. The sample jar tasted really nice - sort of lightly roastiness with herbal notes from the hops. Of course it's way too early to tell, I'll just have to wait until it's carbonated and conditioned for the final verdict. The keg is in the keezer at 12psi and 12C.

Tasting notes

It's a classically tasting English mid-strength ale. There's toffee notes from the Crisp crystal malt but without the burnt flavours you get from the 240 EBC variety that reminds me so much of Shepherd Neame ales. Malt flavours are prominent in this recipe but they are balanced by spicy and herbal hops. It's easy to drink, not challenging on the pallete and would appeal to any fan of classic English ales. Someone up there in my home county of Yorkshire has spent time getting the balance right here.