Ale Recipes

A wide range of recipes are available on The Cat's Meow WWW Page.

When brewing, I follow a number of principles:

Here are a list of adjuncts which are acceptable to me:

I brew with herbs other than hops, primarily because I am interested in trying ales which were popular before the introduction of hops into UK brewing in the 16th century. Here are some that I have tried with positive results (*) or I think are worth trying:

Pictish Ale

Here's the recipe. I only brewed two pints but, unlike most AI programs, it "scales up" so just multiply all the quantities by the same factor to make more.

(to make two pints)

In this quantity, you can do the first fermentation in a 2 litre plastic bottle. Boil the heather blossoms in some water. Add the malt extract and honey. Add enuf water to make up 2 pints. Reboil. Wait for it to cool down to about blood temperature, activate yeast and add it to the wort. Add to 2 litre plastic bottle. Screw on top but not tight: you must allow the CO2 to escape. After about 4-5 days, transfer to bottles, taking care not to transfer the sediment. Cork bottles and store in a cool place until it clears (about 4-5 days). It is then ready for drinking. Pour carefully to avoid disturbing the sediment (it doesn't taste as good as Chimay sediment).

Braveheart Ale

A slightly stronger brew uses

Bottle after one week, and wait four weeks before drinking.

There's a very similar recipe in Food for Free by Richard Mabey. Look under heather.

There's a commercially available version which has hops as well as heather, called Fraoch. The draught version is excellent, but the bottled version is disappointing. IMO it's better without hops. Heather itself is bitter, and ales were brewed in Britain without hops for centuries.

Next time, I might brew a bramble-flavoured version of this.

Henquet Nightmare

For Egyptologists, that's [hnqt nyt m], "beer of the owl".

This is based, very loosely, on what's known about Ancient Egyptian brewing and on a Sumerian recipe.

I brewed three pints. Here are the ingredients (to make 3 pints):

Boil the wort for at least one hour.

Ferment for 5-6 days in a 2 litre bottle, prime with 1/2 teaspoonful date syrup per pint and store in a cool place for 2 weeks. Transfer to a warmer place and leave for 2-3 weeks before drinking.

Serve warm (20 degrees Celsius).

There's a beer brewed by Scottish and Newcastle which uses emmer instead of barley, no malt extract, and juniper instead of rue in the above recipe. It sells for £50 abottle. You might get a similar flavour for a lower price by adding a little gin to some Hoegaarden Wit.

Elderflower Champagne (spontaneously fermented)

This is fermented without added yeast. It makes use of a small quantity of wild yeast present on the elder flowers. The object of the fermentation is to produce carbon dioxide, not alcohol, though a small quantity of alcohol is undoubtedly present too.

The ingredients are (for 2 litres):

Boil the water, and then add the sugar, malt extract and lemon juice to it. Let the water cool. Remove as many thrips as possible from the elderflowers by shaking them, but do not wash them. When the water is tepid, stuff the elderflowers into a 2 litre bottle with a chopstick and then add the water. Put a cap on the bottle. Leave in a warm (not hot) dark place for a day. Then, strain into another 2 litre plastic bottle, and add water to the 2 litre mark. Put a cap on the bottle (tight) and store in a warm (20 degrees C) dark place for a few days, during which time periodically check the pressure by squeezing the bottle. When the bottle becomes difficult to squeeze, refrigerate.


This may not work at all, but I look at it as the brewing equivalent of betting £1 on a 1/10 chance of winning £100. It depends on wild yeasts, which need to contain Saccharomyces, Pediococcus and Brettanomyces for it to work. Fermentation can only start in autumn or spring, and takes a year to produce a mature lambic.

The ingredients are (for 2 litres):

Mash the wheat for 90 minutes, sparge, add the hops and malt extract, and water to 2 litres, and boil for 3 hours.

I poured the hot wort in a wok and left it exposed to the outside air overnight in the greenhouse, protected from insects by netting. The next morning, I tranferred the wort to a 2 litre bottle. During the first week, I inspected the bottle frequently, and removed any Penicillium mould as soon as it appeared. At the end of the week, I transferred the contents to another 2 litre bottle. About 9-10 days after inoculation, primary alcoholic fermentation was detectable. This soon became quite vigorous, but subsided during the fourth week.

Holy Belgium!

This is an imitation trappist ale.


You can buy aged orange peel in Chinese supermarkets.

The Chimay starter was made by adding a malt extract solution to the dregs in a Chimay bottle, swirling it around to aerate it, covering it and placing it in a warm airing cupboard.

Dry hopping should be done when primary fermentation abates, i.e. two weeks into the fermentation. Wait another week before bottling.

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