Ugly Duckling Abbey Ale

Not only do we like to brew locally, but we also like to buy our ingredients locally. This mess of a beer evolved because I wanted to support a local hop farmer here in upstate NY who has a little brew shop attached to his farm. That makes sense. Unfortunately, walking into the place it became clear that he had no idea what to do with his hops.

Let’s start with the grains. He didn’t have much to work with. No pale ale malt (who would ever use that?). So here is what I went with:

Grain Bill

  • 10 pounds lager malt
  • 3 pounds Munich malt
  • 1 pound crystal, which only had a range of L degrees (I’d say ~65L)

Hops… well, this is a hops farm after all. This should be the strong point. Unfortunately, though he only had lager malts, he really didn’t have any hops that would go into a lager. I chose a variety which grows wild in Manitoba, in honor of the return of the Jets.

Hop Bill

  • 2 ounce Brewer’s Gold (7 – 12%) 90 minutes

As for yeast, well first I pitched White Labs German lager yeast. But after two days, it was dead flat (I had made a starter). So, I went back to the store, but all he had was ale yeast, so I pitched a White labs East Coast ale yeast. Took another two days get it to ferment.

I happened to look in Dave Miller’s book, and saw that this combination of grains, combined with ale yeast was essentially his recipe for Trappist Ale, so that is what it became.

Mash Schedule

  • Mash in 17qts filtered through a Brita pitcher at 125 F.
  • Protein rest 30 minutes.
  • I had intended to do a decoction, but due to the already late hour, I eschewed this idea.
  • Raise to 158 F and hold 1 hour.
  • Mash out at 170 F for 10 minutes.
  • Sparged with another 20 qts of Brita filtered water

Brew Notes

  • Brew date was October 30, 2011
  • OG = 1.065

Fermentation Notes

As noted, it took four days to get a fermentation with this dead yeast, and there are strains of both lager and ale yeast in the mix.

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2 thoughts on “Ugly Duckling Abbey Ale

  1. Racked on 11/26/2011
    s.g. 1.020

    At this point, I am not sure whether the beer is viable or not. It has an off taste to it, but it is also sitting on more dead yeast than I have ever seen in one carboy. I ended up pitching both an ale and a lager yeast in it, so I guess that is not surprising. It may be that the taste is coming from all the dead yeast in suspension, and once it clears out, it may be OK. But this remains to be seen.

    • Mike tapped a keg of this beer on my visit to NY. We were disappointed. The beer smelled good and drank well on first gulp. The flavors came across the palate well, but after swallowing there was an off taste that wasn’t strong, but was present and not…right. I likened it to an aluminum backwash. Too bad because otherwise it was good.

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