A full glass of Bachelor Brew

Re-Refining A Classic: Bach(elor) Brew

As acclaimed chef Marco Pierre White is known for saying, “Perfection is lots of little things done well.”

To that end, I’ve been re-brewing several older recipes- hoping to find the last few missing tweaks to push them up into the upper echelons. That said, I am still quite experimental in my approach. I prefer to try a few large strides in several directions to find the best course, and than fine tune from there. With that in mind, I decided to revisit Bach(elor) Brew MK II.

Generally speaking, brown ales are an underrepresented category and with such a strong, simple base, I had lots of room to play. I figured the nice, mellow taste of the original recipe would pair nicely with something crisp and warm. It didn’t take long to flip through my previous creation to find the perfect partner: ginger. After all, ginger ales are a well-known and well-received staple.

So, I started with a lightly tweaked version of the old recipe:

  • Grains
    • 2.5 lbs Mild Malt
    • 2.5 lbs Crystal 20L
    • 1.0 lbs Crystal 60L
    • 0.75 lbs Crystal 120L
    • 0.5 lbs Crystal 160L
  • Extract
    • 3.3 lbs Pilsner Liquid Extract
  • Yeast
    • Safale US-56: American Ale
  • Hops
    • 0.5 oz Northern Brewer (60 minutes)
    • 0.25 oz Northern Brewer (45 minutes)
    • 0.25 oz Northern Brewer (30 minutes)
    • 0.25 oz Simcoe (5 minutes)

The minor variations to the grains was meant to learn further into the caramel flavors we loved so much, and we hoped the additional hopping would cut the sweetness back to where we had started. Once the beer was brewed, I let it coast for ~10 days in primary before adding ~1 pound of grated ginger (please buy a high quality microplane or grater before this step. It’s a surprising workout) soaked in good, old Icelandic vodka. I let the fermentation roll until it died out and moved it into the kegs- before running into another problem.

Due to the pandemic, travelling to my friendly “neighborhood” brew shop was more difficult than usual- given that it’s several miles away. Given that CO2 canisters don’t last all that long, I “decided” to let it mellow in the keg for an extended period.

After a long rest and a jaunt north, I was finally able to drink the newest take on Bach(elor) Brew- to mixed results. The base beer is as good as ever; however the ginger wasn’t quite strong enough to take lead. That said, it has enough of a presence that it’s almost overpowering the simplicity of the original. While I’m eager to try more variants, maybe some things really are better with simplicity.