British Brewer

Recreating the perfect British Pint

06 April

Tips and Tricks: Check your hops alpha acid

This tip may seem obvious but I have only just started doing it. If you have a brew you like to make over and over this tip is essential in order to produce consistent quality and taste every time.

I recently re-brewed my Flowers Original Clone (updated the recipe to a Partial Mash).  In the original recipe we used 0.5oz (.25oz for  a half batch) of Target hops. The alpha acid for Target is typically in the 9-12% range. In the original recipe the hops I used had an alpha acid value of ~10%.

So when I came to re-brew 6 weeks ago I noticed my new batch of Target hops were 11%. So I decided to go back to BeerCalculus at Hopville (and my spreadsheet) and recalculate the IBU’s.  At 11% alpha acid for the bittering hops I calculated I needed to reduce the amount of the Target hops from 0.5 to 0.4oz. Good job I did because the ale is in the keg and it tastes absolutely fantastic 🙂



08 January

Recipe: Flowers Original (version 1.0)

Flowers Original AleI have decided not to give this brew my own BritishBrewer name, it is a special ale with a rich history, similar to many of the classic British Ales covered on this blog.  But the recent history around Flowers is becoming more and more common with the growth of mega-breweries, such as InBev, as many local cask brewers are acquired and then shut down to cut costs and reduce the number of brands. I don’t know what a “brand” of ale tastes like but I do know that Flowers is one of the the classic ales which unfortunalely has a very uncertain future under its new owners.

Flowers Brewery opened in 1831 as Flower & Sons on Brewery St in Stratford Upon Avon, home of the British Bard William Shakespeare. In 1954 the brewery was acquired by J.W. Green and changed its name to Flowers Breweries and then shortly after acquired again by the growing Whitbread empire in 1961.  As part of Whitbread’s cost cutting they closed the original brewery in Stratford and moved the operations 45 miles SW to Whitbread’s Cheltenham Brewery (previously known as West Country Brewery Ltd before also being acquired by Whitbread in 1963 and becoming the Flowers Brewery). I wonder the effects the move had on the quality of the original ale given the changes ground water, equipment, and possibly ingredients.

In 2000 Whitbread, along with the large Bass empire, sold all its brewery holdings to the Belgium brewing conglomerate, InterBrew, who consolidated all of its cask brewing operations into the home of Boddingtons Beer at the Strangeways Brewery in Manchester, some 130 miles to the North (founded in 1778 and eventually sold to Whitbread in 1989 by the Boddington family), becoming the only remaining cask brewery in the Interbrew empire.  In 2004 InterBrew merged with another global mega-brewer, the Brazilian AmBev, to become InBev, the largest brewer in the world by volume.  In Sept 2004 InBev announced it was closing Strangeways and brewing for the brands they retained moved to either Glasgow, Scotland or South Wales (except Boddingtons which moved to Hyde Brewery in Manchester).

So now Flowers is an orphaned ale with no home, its heritage a tale driven by corporate cost cutting and shareholder value rather than quality and taste. It is a very popular ale with a strong following, a point not lost on InBev, who recently revived the Flower lineup (Original and IPA) and commissioned Badger Brewery (owned and operated by Dorset independent brewers and pub owners, Hall and Woodhouse, makers of the exceptional Badger ales and Tanglefoot cask ale) to brew both IPA and Original for the UK market.  So for now the ale is safe, it is a classic and maybe its heritage is something we can retain by recreating the recipe for homebrewers for generations to come.

Researching the ale was hard as InBev does not post ingredients or even acknowledge the existence of the Flowers Original on any of its web properties.  I had to rely on a couple of dedicated all-grain homebrewer’s and Roger Protz “The Real Ale Almanac” to piece together the recipe. (ingredients and process can be found here)

The Almanac provides the following tasting notes:

A strong, fruity bitter with some acidity… Fat malt in the mouth with hop edge, dry finish with some hop character with raisin and sultana notes.

The almanac lists the hops as Stryian Goldings and Target, Pale Ale base malt with Crystal and cane sugar. OG 1044.  I found the ABV listed by online retailers as 4.3%. So we should be able to calculate the FG using a brewing calculator.  SRM is up in the air.  The homebrewer’s I found who had tried an all-grain version listed the SRM as 9. This seems a little light to me, the colour reminded me more of a Fullers London Pride, i.e. a burnt gold, giving more of a 13 SRM.  I have decided to use Wyeast Thames Valley yeast for this batch given its proximity to Cheltenham and high attenuation to provide the dry finish. I used the recommendations of 2 online homebrewers for IBU and will use the hops specified in the almanac.

So given this is the least we have ever had to go on here is the recipe. (We will be following the same logic used in the previous recipes tp calculate the specific quantities of DME, hops etc to save on the words)

Flowers Original Bitter (BJCP Beer StyleSpecial/Best/Premium Bitter, category: English Pale Ale)

  • 2.5 Gallon, 60 min boil
  • OG 1043, FG 1010
  • 4.4% ABV
  • 30 IBU
  • 13° SRM (Burnt Gold)
  • Ready to drink in 6-7 weeks

Base Malt and Fermentables:

  • 1 lb 12 oz Light Dry Malt Extract (60 mins)
  • 4 oz Cane Sugar (at the end of the boil)

Specialty Grains:

  • 6 oz Crystal Malt – 120L
  • 4 oz Torrified Wheat


  • Bittering Hops – 0.25 oz Target, 0.125 oz Styrian Goldings (60 mins)
  • Flavour Hop – 0.125 oz Styrian Goldings (15 mins)
  • Aroma Hops – 0.25 oz Target, 0.125 oz Styrian Goldings (1 min)


  • Wyeast Thames Valley Ale (#1275) (Attenuation 77%, Flocculation: Medium Low)

Other Additions

  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (30 mins)
  • Packet of Isinglass Liquid (to help remove any lingering proteins given the low flocculation level of the yeast)


  • Please follow the process guidelines outlined in my post here.  You will require all the equipment specified here.
  • Primary Fermentation: 5-7 days at 65-75°
  • Secondary Fermentation: 1 week in the same location as the primary
  • Prime and store in the bottle for at least 2 weeks before consuming
  • Peak flavour will be reached after 4 weeks in the bottle