Brewing a beer for a special occasion or life event is always fun. When my daughter was born last year I wanted to brew something different and something that would not only keep until she turns 21 but hopefully get better. I decided to brew an Old Ale but of course because I am me I needed to go “old school” and make sure it had a brettanomyces character in it. I lucked out too! Wyeast was going to release their Old Ale blend the following month. I didn’t get a chance to use that blend when it was released in 2009 but I had heard some very good things about it.
I wanted to have a traditional base to this beer, but I also wanted something a bit bigger than the 1.090 style limit OG and something drier the 1.015 FG style limit (I detest sweetness in beers). So the recipe I came up with ended up as a Specialty beer…more of a hybrid Old Ale.
‘Lil Nugget Old Ale (10 gallons finished/packaged) Oaked version 13.3% ABV & Un-Oaked 12.9% ABV
- 1.100 OG Mashed at 150F
- TF Maris Otter
- Flaked Corn
- Golden Naked Oats
- Demerara Sugar (added on day 6)
- D-180 Candi Syrup
- Nugget Hops Bittering, Flavoring, and Aroma
- East Kent Goldings Flame Out and Dry Hopped
- 1oz Hungarian Oak cubes per secondary carboy
- 2L stirplate starter of Wyeast 9097
The un-oaked version is fantastic right now and I really think it will hold up over the long haul. It has been bottled for around 6 weeks now (I did remember to save 8 bottles for 2031, they are sealed up in a box). I did bottle them with only priming sugar and let the Brett do it’s thing, no other yeast bottling yeast was used. So far the few bottles I have opened have carbed up nicely. Gravity at bottling time was 1.010.
Aroma – Toffee, Smokey, Peppery, Classic Brett Barnyard with the aroma of earthy piney Nugget hops.
Flavor- Again the classic Brett funk first, but even with it’s low final gravity a malty nutty dark fruit comes in right behind. To back that up it finishes with a leathery cinnamon flavor on the tail end. It has some alcohol but it is by no means a harsh alcohol flavor. Just a nice warming layer.
Appearance- Copper/ruby in the glass. Tan head that stays intact for the entire drink. A medium amount of sticky lacking that hangs even when glass is empty.
Something I would change for next time? I would probably go just a bit higher on the mash…. 152 or 153. It would still finish nice and dry, but I would like the Brett to have a bit more to chew on. In addition to the D-180 I would use some D-45 Amber syrup and back off the Demerara a pound. Those syrups are not just for Belgian beers!
I accomplished what I wanted to with this batch: Something with a good solid base, changed up with some interesting simple adjuncts, Bretty, will hold up for many years, and most of all a project that will always re-mind me of a great time in my life I get to share with my sweet girl one day.