I’ve been interested in brewing beer for many years. I even went so far as to buy "starter kits" on more than one occasion. But I always got distracted and found something else to keep me busy. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually took the time to brew some beer.
I’ve been at it for a while, and I’m rather enjoying it. I have a good time trying new things and trying to figure out how it all works.
I remember when I was a kid one of my Dad’s friends, Dwight Burnham, was a home brewer. He made all kinds of beer and wine, which I thought was pretty neat. I’m sure that when he brought samples along when we went canoeing or camping that my Dad enjoyed it.
I recall my Dad saying how Dwight always served the home brew as the first round, and then switched over "Old Milwaukee" after that. Another friend of mine who also knew Dwight says that he always mixed his home brew with Miller. I’m not sure what to make of that.
Somewhere between when I was a kid and when I started brewing, my Dad’s friend founded the Lawrence Brewer’s Guild. I’m now a member of the Guild and hoping to get to be a better brewer.
Last year, I went to Dwight’s estate sale. One of the things I picked up at the sale was his brewing log book from the mid 1980’s. It’s all hand written notes on the beer he was brewing between 1985 and 1987.
There was a particular recipe labeled "regular" pale ale that showed up over a dozen times. That kind of grabbed my attention.
There was a fair amount of variation in the notes. I’m not sure what to make of it all. By comparing multiple instances of the same recipe I can tell that he was doing a partial mash with an enzyme rest. He started at 122 degrees and then took it to 152 degrees before sparging at 170.
I know that he was brewing to a 17+ gallon batch, but I don’t know if he had a large brew kettle or if he was doing a partial boil and adding water to get to the 17 gallons. He references specific settings on an electric kettle, but I have no idea what kind of kettle it was -- I have to guess at some of the volumes and settings. Likewise, when he wrote about his mash tun, he referenced either the "red cooler" or the "blue cooler." It’s hard to tell how big they were based on color.
I found that some of the ingredients he used are no longer available as well. He refers to "crystal malt", but not a color reference. I’m guessing that must be similar to modern Crystal 40L or Crystal 60L. His yeast was "Great Dane Ale Yeast." That yeast is no longer available, but looking in Google, it was a dry, packet yeast that was in a lot of beer "kits." I’m assuming it must have been similar to Munton’s Ale Yeast. His recipe called for John Bull Pale Liquid Malt extract. I’m going to guess that Munton’s will be a close, modern replacement.
He also changed the hops from batch to batch. Several times he was using leaf hops, which would make it very hard to re-create what he was doing. I did find one instance when he used Hallertau pellets, which is useful. Hallertau is an older strain and shouldn’t be too different now than in 1986. That gives me some idea of what he was up to.
I believe he had a water softener (I don’t know why I think that I recall that from when I was a kid. It was 40 years ago, but I just have that feeling). He was adding Gypsum to the water, and I kind of doubt he would have done that if he was just using un-filtered tap water.
So I made some assumptions about how he was set up, and ran the recipe through my brewing software. (I use BrewTarget, but I’m sure BeerSmith would work, too.)
To make things a bit easier, I assumed he had a brew kettle big enough to boil the whole batch. I used his mash schedule, hop addition amounts and timings to try to generate a recipe replicating his original work.
After that, I told the software to re-size the batch to a 5 gallon batch to match my current set up. It gave me a starting place to come up with a "facsimile" recipe to try to re-create his beer.
I tinkered with the fermentables just a bit to make things work out. The "re-sized" recipe called for 3.2 pounds of LME. I upped that to 3.3 pounds and then adjusted the other malt volumes to get the same percentages. I rounded to the nearest ounce for the rest to keep the percentages as close as possible to the original.
The hops were a bit tricky. I kept the same timing when the hops should be added, but the "re-sized" amounts threw the IBU calculation way off. So I did a bunch of trial and error adjustments of the amount of each addition to get the total IBU calculation back in line with the original.
So, after a whole lot of tinkering, this is the recipe I came up with.
Dwight 2 - American Pale Ale (10A)
Batch Size 5.356 gal Boil Size 6.449 gal
Boil Time 90.000 min Efficiency 70%
OG 1.038 FG 1.009
ABV 3.7% Bitterness 35.8 IBU (Tinseth)
Color 6.4 srm (Morey) Calories (per 12 oz.) 123
Total grain: 5.925 lb
Name Type Amount Mashed Late Yield Color
Liquid Extract Extract 3.300 lb No No 78% 8.0 srm
(LME) - Pale
Briess - 2 Row Grain 1.250 lb Yes No 80% 2.0 srm
Corn Sugar Sugar 1.000 lb No Yes 100% 0.0srm
Caramel/Crystal Grain 6.000 oz Yes No 74% 40.0srm
Malt - 40L
Name Alpha Amount Use Time Form IBU
Hallertau 4.5% 0.625 oz Boil 90.000 min Pellet 14.5
Hallertau 4.5% 0.500 oz Boil 60.000 min Pellet 10.8
Hallertau 4.5% 0.625 oz Boil 30.000 min Pellet 10.4
Name Type Use Amount Time
Polyclar Fining Secondary 0.875 tsp 0.000 s
Yeast Nutrient Other Primary 0.875 tsp 0.000 s
Gypsum Water Agent Mash 0.250 tsp 0.000 s
Gypsum Water Agent Boil 0.500 tsp 0.000 s
Name Type Form Amount Stage
Safale S-05 Ale Dry 2.232 tsp Primary
Name Type Amount Temp Target Temp Time
Dwight 1 Infusion 2.031 qt 170.191 F 122.000 F 60.000 min
Dwight 2 Temperature --- --- 170.000 F 20.000 min
Dwight 3 Infusion 4.500 gal 212.000 F 152.600 F 0.000 s
Final Batch Infusion 1.297 gal 180.874 F 165.200 F 15.000 min
My brew plan
I plan to follow this recipe pretty closely. I will be making a few minor changes:
- Munton’s ale yeast instead of Safale
I’ll use Super-moss in the last ten minutes of the boil instead of polyclar (I’ve never used polyclar and I’m comfortable with using super-moss)
I’ll add the sugar in the last 2 minutes of the boil instead of to the primary (I just like the idea of getting it good and dissolved prior to moving to the primary)
I’ll be making a yeast starter with 750 ml of water and ¾ cup of light DME instead of adding yeast nutrient to the primary (Again, it’s just that I’m more comfortable working with a starter than switching over to a different technique)
- Steep grain in two gallons of filtered water at 122 degrees for one hour. Add one quarter teaspoon of gypsum.
Warm to 152 degrees for 20 minutes.
Drain into brew kettle
Rinse grain with two gallons 170 degree water into brew kettle
Add two and a half gallons of water to brew kettle
Bring to boil (boil for 90 minutes)
* Add ½ teaspoon Gypsum 90 min
* Add LME 90 min
* Add 5/8 ounce Hallertau pellets 90 min
* Add ½ ounce Hallertau pellets 60 min
* Add 5/8 ounce Hallertau pellets 30 min
* Add Super-moss 10 min
* Add corn sugar 2 min
Cool. Pitch yeast.
I’m hoping this beer turns out. I’m not currently planning to mix it with Miller, but you never know.
I was too young to drink beer when I was around Dwight, and by the time I was old enough, I was also old enough that I wasn’t spending a lot of time with my parents and their friends. So I really don’t know what to expect or what the result should be like.
It isn’t like we have some samples we can compare it to, either. I’ve taken a look at Dwight’s notes, applied what I’ve learned about brewing so far, and letting the brew software do the "heavy lifting" to calculate what it should turn out like, I’m hoping to get close to the original.
For me, this has been kind of fun. It’s been a nice bit of detective work to try to figure out what Dwight was brewing 30 years ago. Then I got to try to figure out how to make a "replica" of the same beer. I’ll never know for sure if I actually got it to turn out close to the original, but it’s been an adventure getting here, and that’s why I like to brew in the first place.