Fuller's ESB clone bottled

Cloning Fuller’s ESB ale

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.

Fuller's ESB ale clone

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.

Home brews on a shelf

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.

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