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Festival - Founding Fathers' Pale Ale

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StFlipper

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I noticed a new "limited edition" Founding Fathers' Pale Ale kit when placing a recent order with Hopshop. The description says "Crisp and refreshing with fruity hops flavours, orchard and tropical fruit aroma and an overlaying biscuit base" which sounds like my kind of thing. Hopshop reassured me that the fruit aroma part is poetic license, just the hopping rather than fruit extract or similar. Let's give it a go then:

Here's the box, which is the usual Festival packaging.

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Interestingly the side of the box has the kit name blacked out, and a label stuck on with a slightly different kit name - "English Hart Pale Ale" :

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Maybe Ritchies changed the kit name at the last minute or maybe it was sold under the "Hart Pale Ale" name previously, although I don't see any record of that on the Internet.

The kit contents are similar to most of the Festival kits - two malt pouches (3kg total), some dextrose/glucose (350g) to raise the gravity, 10g of yeast, a foil sachet of hop pellets (60g), a filter bag for use when siphoning, and some priming sugar (100g).

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A few comments about the contents:
  • Always preferable when a kit is all malt, rather than needing to be beefed up with dextrose. Wouldn't it have been nice to find two 1.7kg pouches and no glucose, but I suppose the pouches are made by the million to a single size.
  • Malt pouches rather than tins seem to be the norm now, but I don't really understand why. With a tin it's much easier to see if there's any malt left in the tin and to wash it out with a bit of hot water, whereas with a pouch it always feels like there's a bit more that could be squeezed out. Also tins are recyclable, whereas pouches are plastic lined and destined for landfill.
  • The malt pouches say "English Pale Ale", the yeast is "British Ale Yeast", and the hop pellets are "English Pale Ale". This seems to be quite common, to have component parts which sound rather generic, and likely to be included in any number of the company's kits.
  • I assume the fruity aromas are largely down to the hop pellets, but I don't see any mention of the hop varieties used in this kit. Again the hop pellets being labelled "English Pale Ale" suggests they might be common to various kits. Surely not.
  • I very much like the hop filter bags included with the Festival kits, which make a big difference in terms of removing the majority of the hop mush when siphoning. I always give them a good wash after use, then use them again with other non-Festival kits.

I started the kit today following the Festival instructions, which in brief are:
  • Sterilise everything.
  • Soak the malt pouches in hot water for a while then squeeze them out into the FV (as best you can give they're pouches rather than tins, mumble mumble, mutter, mutter).
  • Add 3L of boiled water to the malt and stir vigorously to dissolve the malt.
  • Add the 350g of dextrose and stir vigorously again.
  • Top up to 23L with cold water.
  • Check temperate is below 25C.
  • Measure the original gravity.
  • Tip in the yeast and stir it in a bit.
  • Stick the lid and airlock onto the FV.
The OG measured as 1.044 - 1.045. The kit instructions estimate the final gravity to be around 1.009 which would make the ABV around 4.5% rather than the quoted 5%. Maybe down to the traces of malt remaining in the pouches, or maybe it'll end up lower than 1.009.

I will post a follow up in a few days when the main fermentation is done.
 

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cushyno

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I purchased two Festival kits recently, Landlord and Razorback IPA. Contents of your Founding Fathers kit looks almost identical to the Razorback kit. Landlord kit doesn't have the dextrose/glucose.

Pouches were labelled similar on Landlord, if I recall correctly it was labelled English Bitter rather than pale ale.
I expect the methods and quantities of all kits are similar but vary in contents of sachets.

Landlord OG was 1039, finishing at 1008 giving 4.1%abv and took 14 days to ferment out.

Good luck with yours.
 

StFlipper

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I've also made a few of the other Festival kits (Old Suffolk Strong Ale, Pilgrims Hope, Belgian Pale Ale, Golden Stag Summer Ale, and Razorback IPA) and as you say some have the extra dextrose and some have only the malt pouches. The Old Suffolk Strong Ale has 1kg of dextrose, and even then the OG wasn't high enough to bring the final ABV up to the quoted 6%. Richie's said that they'll up it to 1.2kg in future. My favourite Festival kit so far is the Golden Stag - lovely light floral hoppiness, around 4.5% ABV, and malt only (no dextrose).

The Founding Fathers kit is the first one where I've made a note of the labels on the pouches, so I don't know if those "English Pale Ale" malt pouches are used in many of their other kits. It would be rather disappointing if there were really only 2 or 3 different malt pouch types and maybe only a couple of yeast types and hop combinations across all the Festival kits. Unfortunately the generic labels on the pouches suggests that probably is the case.
 

Clint

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Ag now but must say the Festival range is good. If you are careful you can still rinse the pouches out....
 

StFlipper

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Day 6 today and the SG is down to 1.010 so added the hop pellets.
The instruction leaflet says to expect a final SG of 1.009 for the Founding Fathers, so it's already almost there.
 

StFlipper

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4 days after adding the hops (10 days total from the start) fermentation had apparently completely stopped, and the airlock was "balanced", ie. pressure inside and outside had equalised. I left it a couple more days because there was no time to do the bottling rituals. Tonight was day 12 (hops in for 6 days), and the SG was pretty much 1.009 as per kit instructions so batch primed and bottled.

A few observations:
  • The kit includes 100g of priming sugar, which is a bit higher than usual for a 23L kit.
  • It also includes the standard Ritchies/Festival hop straining bag, which it pretty effective at removing the coarse hop gunge when siphoning.
  • I brewed this during the 2018 summer heatwave, when the temperature in the kitchen was between 21 and 22.5C. Maybe that's why it fermented completely so quickly, and possibly also why it struggled to get down to the suggested 1.009.
  • The dead yeast layer at the bottom of the FV was really thick with this kit, maybe 2 or 3cm deep.
The beer is a fairly light amber colour, with quite a delicate hoppiness rather than a full-on American IPA style, but no point judging it at this stage really.

Will report back when it's had a chance to bottle condition and settle down.
 

StFlipper

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Drank the last bottle of this last night, which had been sitting on its own for a couple of months. Quite an impressive head from this last bottle, certainly more than they were back in September.

The Ritchies description of this Founding Fathers Pale Ale is "fruity hops flavours, orchard and tropical fruit aroma and an overlaying biscuit base" and certainly there's some sort of distinct pineapple (and maybe apple) taste to it. There's no fruit extract in the kit so any fruitiness is presumably due to whatever malt extract blend and hops (unspecified) the makers have used. To my mind the acidity and fruit flavours mask the dry hop aromas too much, but that's just a matter of personal preference. I'd say it's worth a punt if you want a break from the currently ubiquitous American style IPAs or English style bitters, but it's not quite to my taste.

For the record:
Starting OG=1.044 / 1.045
Day 6: SG=1.010 - hops in
Day 12: SG=1.009 - batch primed with the included 100g of dextrose and bottled

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