Don’t underestimate your ability to brew near commercial quality ale. As a leading brewery in London, Fuller’s list the exact ingredients on their website. It wasn’t too difficult to use this information to clone a small batch of ESB.
Plus, it did help that Brew Your Own magazine has a recipe and step-by-step instructions:
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.060 FG = 1.014
IBU = 35 SRM = 15 ABV = 5.9%
9 lbs. 2 oz. (4.2 kg) English 2-row pale ale malt (3 °L)
2.0 lbs. (0.91 kg) flaked maize
1 lb. 2 oz. (0.51 kg) crystal malt (60 °L)
5.25 AAU Target hops (60 mins) (0.53 oz./15 g of 10% alpha acids)
2.6 AAU Challenger hops (60 mins) (0.34 oz./10 g of 7.5% alpha acids)
0.83 AAU Northdown hops (15 mins) (0.1 oz./2.7 g of 8.5% alpha acids)
1.66 AAU Goldings hops (15 mins) (0.33 oz./9.4 g of 5% alpha acids)
1/4 tsp yeast nutrients
1 tsp Irish moss
Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) or White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) yeast (2 qt./2 L starter)
0.75 cups corn sugar (for priming)
Prior to brewing ESB, I had only ever played around with Beer Smith recipes when All-Grain (AG) brewing. So to actually have an exact recipe to work from, along with an excellent expectation of what the ale should taste like, was a real test of my home brewing abilities. So much so that I actually forgot to do a step-by-step run through of putting the batch together – sorry! It’s always good to have full concentration when doing a slightly more technical brew anyway.
What I can share with you is a picture of the finished product; the colour isn’t far off the real deal.
The real Fuller’s ESB ale bottled has an ABV of 5.9%, mine came out at a respectable 4.7%, arguably turning my clone into more of a session ale. The big difference, other than this being made in my kitchen, is the flavour profile. Whilst tasty, it has a slightly stronger bitter aftertaste, probably as a result of me leaving the hops in too long whilst boiling. To avoid this next time, I’ll make faster hop additions and use slightly less.
Unlike my other AG home brews, I didn’t need to rehydrate yeast, as paid slightly more to use White Labs English Ale Yeast. It’s difficult to say how much of a difference liquid yeast made to this brew, but I may use dried yeast next time as a comparison. For the moment though, I’m going to enjoy these home brews until the weather cools down and I can safely ferment some more.