Fork Brewing’s latest release is a handpull beer: Burton Ernie 6.3% Burton Ale, an old UK style, which Kelly brewed especially for some touring visitors from the United Kingdom and their supporters. (But don’t worry, Kiwis – he used NZ ingredients!)
This beer was first brewed pre-Beervana in a small batch last year as Kelly wanted to have a crack at his interpretation of this historic style from the Burton-on-Trent region of England.
“With a certain impending rugby tour looming, I thought it would be a good idea (well, with the help of Jenny from The Metro in the U.K., who assisted in putting the idea into my head) to brew a full-size batch,” says Kelly, who always envisaged this beer being served on handpull.
“Generally, I take my beer from the maturation vessel and put it into keg to do this. It’s as close as I can get to emulate cask-conditioned ale, without using firkins and conditioning, etc.
“We still aren’t quite set up to give the exactness that I’m after to condition and serve on a large scale. One cask, I can do, but not 12!”
The recipe was devised with a focus on water chemistry. Amongst other things, Burton water is high in sulphates and this gives a large boost to drinkability by providing a nice, dry mouthfeel to these types of beers. Burton Ales are all about malt character and finish quite sweet, and Burton Ernie is no exception.
Kelly’s next challenge was to brew this with all New Zealand ingredients.
A combination of Ale, Wheat, Dextrin and Caramel malts were combined with New Zealand Liberty hops and a liberal dosing of Gisborne grown Sweet Navel Orange zest, in an attempt to emulate English hop character and also as a nod to an old Burton recipe that references orange peel!
“Either way, I’m happy with the hop profile and it’s combination of herbaceousness, marmalade and wonderful floral notes reminds of both Goldings and Target,” says Kelly.
A subtle dry hop, usually at around half the rate of the earlier Burton Pale Ales was also used to boost and balance the malt character and gives just the slightest resinous edge to balance the interesting combination of sweetness and dryness.
“Throughout the history of Burton Ales, they have appeared as anything from big, strong barley wine-like beasts, strong dark mild-style ales and even as malty English Pale Ales,” says Kelly.
“I’ve aimed for something in the realms of drinkability – with a brewpub beer, this is important. And am pleased with the results!”
Burton Ernie Burton Ale Tasting Notes
Flavour: Toasty malt profile with hints of roasted nuts, dark caramel and resinous, caramelised orange zest. Finishes with violet-like floral esters and an interplay of malt sweetness and palate dryness to balance and boost drinkability.
Aroma: Just-burnt sugar combines with pear-like esters, citrus and hop resin and soft caramel. Subtle herbal zing to the hoppy notes.
Look: Bright brown-red with a faint beige head.
Hops: New Zealand Liberty
Malt: Ale, Wheat, Aurora, Gladiator
Yeast: Fork House Strain – Warm fermented
Other: NZ Sweet Navel Orange Zest