When I started brewing I used to look for kits that would possibly taste like my favourite beers. One of the reasons I moved on to partial extract brewing was so that I could tailor beers to my taste. So with an air of inevitability I ended up all grain brewing. It goes without saying with all grain brewing you can make any beer you like. So what to make next? Well I love Spitfire ale from Shephard Neame and always pick up a bottle or two when in the supermarket. Spitfire is an English pale ale 4.5%ABV with a nice earthy hop aroma with a hint of caramel malt and citrus. The taste is like the aroma with a taste of caramel up front then a nice bitter hoppy after taste. The body is medium with a light carbonation.
The challenge with making this clone, as with most, was to get the distinctive aroma and taste of this famous Kentish ale. I searched for a recipe in the usual places and as usual ended up with a hybrid recipe of my own.
3.75Kg Maris Otter
400g Torrified wheat
250g Amber Malt
200g Wheat malt
30g Target hops 90 mins
28g Kent Goldings 60 mins
10g Kent Goldings 15 mins
Irish moss 15 mins
Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale Yeast
To start I heated up 13 litres for a strike temp of 72°c and mashed for 75 mins. Mashed out with 9 litres at 100°c for a target temp of 78°c and rested for ten mins. The mash was then sparged with 12 litres at 77°c.
The boil was then carried out for 90 mins with the hop schedule as above. The kettle had to be topped up before the boil. The wort was then cooled and added to the fermenter. The yeast used was previously washed and a starter made the night before which was then added to the wort after aeration.The fermentation was vigorous and the beer was bottled and kegged after being batch primed with 140g of DME. The OG was 1.049 and FG 1.011 which gave 5.0% abv and the beer should of been 39IBU.
Well the first thing you have probably noted is that the ABV was a little higher than the original but i think most of us can live with that. The beer cleared and looked in the bottle a very good clear amber colour and identical to the original, which I was pleased with. On pouring into the glass the beer was nicely carbonated with a white head. The aroma was bob on with nice earthy hop and caramel toffee notes, which again was very pleasing. The taste was close, very close but not exact, damn. It did have a sweet malty taste with a bitter hop after taste. A number of friends have tried it and agree that it is an exact copy of spitfire, maybe I’m being too picky, who knows? The bottles and keg didn’t last long as it is a really nice ale and one I will make again. Conclusion – Cracking ale that emulates the original and is as close as damn it.