Replicator December 2004 - Highland Heather Ale

Dear Replicator, Recently my wife and I spent several days in Asheville, North Carolina. While there we had the pleasure of sampling several brews from the Highland Brewing Company, and we were also given a wonderful tour. Their Heather Ale is one of the best, most original beer's I have had in quite a while, and was wondering if you had any ideas on the recipe. We tried to buy some of it for home, but they do not sell it in bottles. Could you help?? Chad and Rachel Matthews, Lexington, KY _____________________________________________________________________________ Chad, Heather ale is one of the world’s oldest beer styles, with the use of heather in beer pre-dating the common use of hops in beer as a flavoring. It is believed that Heather beers originated in Scotland, but were brewed throughout England and parts of Europe. Heather beers were nearly extinct commercially, but like many other foods and beverages, are finding a revival as we strive for a greater connection to our past. Highland brewing is making their Highland Heather Ale as a seasonal beer, according to John Lyda, their Brewmaster, and is available as part of their 10 year anniversary. Highland chose to make Heather Ale as a medium alcohol beer, as more of a session beer, rather than the higher alcohol beers that many Scotch ales are. John described Highland Heather ale as a beer with a brown ale color, but a floral sweetness and aroma from the use of dried heather. It has a thin to medium body, and due to the relative low hop bitterness and medium alcohol level, has a shorter than normal shelf life and is best as a “fresh” beer. John says that he adds gypsum and calcium chloride (commonly known as “ Burton water salts ” ) to harden their water to give the beer some more stability, and he suggests that homebrewers do the same if they have soft to medium hard water. This sounds like a fun beer to make and share with your friends or your local homebrewing club, as a contrast to the seemingly endless supply of excessively bitter beers that are popular today amongst homebrewers and craft brewers. For more information you can visit the Highland Brewery web site at: or by calling 828-255-8240. Highland Heather Ale 5 US. Gallons (19 L), extract with grains OG=1.048 FG=1.008 IBU’S = 22 SRM= 17.0 Alcohol 5.2% by volume Ingredients 3.3 Lbs. (1.5 kg) Muntons light malt extract syrup 2.0 Lbs. (.9 kg) Muntons light dry malt extract 1.0 Lbs. (.45 kg) British Marris Otter Malt 4 oz. (113 g) Roasted Barley 2.0 (56 g) Ounces Heather tips (boil 30 minutes) 2.0 (56 g) Ounces Heather tips (dry hop) 1 teaspoon (5 ml) Irish moss (boil 60 minutes) 3.5 AAU Kent Goldings hops (bittering hop, boil 60 min.) (0.75 Oz. (21 g) of 4.7% Alpha acid) 2.4 AAU German Hallertau Hersbrucker hops (bittering hop, boil 60 min.) (0.50 Oz. (14 g) of 4.7% alpha acid) White Labs WLP001 California Ale yeast or Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast O.75 cup (180 ml) of corn sugar for priming. Step by step instructions Steep the 2 crushed malts 3 gallons (13.5 L) of water at 150º (66 C.) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from wort, add the malt syrup and dry malt extract and bring to a boil. Add the Golding hops, Hersbrucker hops, Irish moss, and boil for 60 minutes. Add the first addition of Heather tips for the last 30 minutes of the boil. There are no finishing hops in this recipe. Now add wort to 2 gallons (9 L )cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons. (25 L) Cool the wort to 75º (24 C.), aerate the beer and pitch your yeast. Allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 65 ° (18 C.), and hold at this temperature until the beer has finished fermenting. Add the last 2 ounces (56 g) of the Heather Tips just as you would if you were to be dry hopping, by adding them to the beer when the fermentation is done. Let the Heather tips dry hop in the beer for about 5 to 7 days, then bottle and enjoy! All grain option: This is a single step infusion mash. Your grain bill will be 8.25 Lbs (3.75 kg) British Marris Otter Pale 2-row malt and 4 oz. (113 g) British Roasted Barley. Mash crushed grains together at 150 º (66 C.) for 60 minutes. Collect approximately 7 gallons wort (32 L) to boil for 90 minutes and have a 5.5-gallon yield (25 L). Lower the amount of the Kent Golding hops in the boil to 0.50 (14 grams) ounce to account for higher extraction ratio of a full boil. The remainder of the recipe is the same as the extract.