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Grainfather Blog - Road to Homebrew Con: Australia

By Sam Loader - Resident Grainfather Brewer 07/06/2018 16:12 Comments

AU Sparkling Ale

Australia: Spakling Ale



Overall Impression: Smooth and balanced, all components merge together with similar intensities. Moderate flavours are showcasing Australian ingredients. Large flavour dimension. Very drinkable, suited to a hot climate. Relies on yeast character. 

Aroma: Fairly soft, clean aroma with a balanced mix of esters, hops, malt, and yeast – all moderate to low in intensity. The esters are frequently pears and apples, possibly with a very light touch of banana (optional). The hops are earthy, herbaceous, or might show the characteristic iron-like Pride of Ringwood's nose. The malt can range from neutral grainy to moderately sweet to lightly bready; no caramel should be evident. Very fresh examples can have a lightly yeasty, sulfury nose. 

Appearance: Deep yellow to light amber in colour, often medium gold. Tall, frothy, persistent white head with tiny bubbles. Noticeable effervescence due to high carbonation. Brilliant clarity if decanted, but typically poured with yeast to have a cloudy appearance. Not typically cloudy unless yeast roused during the pour. 

Flavour: Medium to low rounded, grainy to bready malt flavour, initially mild to malty-sweet but a medium to medium-high bitterness rises mid-palate to balance the malt. Caramel flavours typically absent. Highly attenuated, giving a dry finish with lingering bitterness, although the body gives an impression of fullness. Medium to medium-high hop flavour, somewhat earthy and possibly herbal, resinous, peppery, or iron-like but not floral, lasting into the aftertaste. Medium-high to medium-low esters, often pears and apples. Banana is optional, but should never dominate. Maybe lightly minerally or sulfury, especially if the yeast is present. Should not be bland. 

Mouthfeel: High to very high carbonation, giving mouth-filling bubbles and a crisp, spritzy carbonic bite. Medium to medium-full body, tending to the higher side. Smooth but gassy. Stronger versions may have a light alcohol warmth, but lower alcohol versions will not. Very well attenuated; should not have any residual sweetness.

History: Brewing records show that the majority of Australian beer brewed in the 19th century was draught XXX (Mild) and porter. Ale in the bottle was originally developed to compete with imported bottled pale ales from British breweries, such as Bass and Wm Younger’ Monk. By the early 20th century, bottled pale ale went out of fashion and “lighter” lager beers were in vogue. Many Australian Sparkling and Pale Ales were labelled as ales but were actually bottom-fermented lagers with very similar grists to the ales that they replaced. Coopers of Adelaide, South Australia is the only surviving brewery producing the Sparkling Ale style. 

Characteristic Ingredients: Lightly kilned Australian 2-row pale malt, lager varieties may be used. Small amounts of crystal malt for colour adjustment only. Modern examples use no adjuncts, cane sugar for priming only. Historical examples using 45% 2 row, 30% higher protein malt (6 row) would use around 25% sugar to dilute the nitrogen content. Traditionally used Australian hops, Cluster, and Goldings until replaced from the mid-1960s by Pride of Ringwood. Highly attenuative Burton-type yeast (Australian-type strain typical). Variable water profile, typically with low carbonate and moderate sulphate.

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.038 – 1.050 IBUs: 20 – 35 FG: 1.004 – 1.006 SRM: 4 – 7 ABV: 4.5 – 6.0% 

Commercial Examples: Coopers Original Pale Ale, Coopers Sparkling Ale.  

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