Finally the day arrived, the day to drink my recreation of a beer from 1877 - a beer which was commercially brewed 136 years ago. The beer in question was the Truman's No 4, from a brewery which was once the biggest in the world.
Number 4 was a Burton Ale, which in 1877 meant it was pale, bitter and sweet all at the same time. In 2013, my recreation looked like this:
The beer poured a rich amber, which surprised me given the grain bill of 100% pale malt (I wish I could get my bitter the same colour from a single grain). The nose was sweet toasted malt laced with traces of spice, toffee and a touch of boozy orange peel - think of a rum baba made with a pinch of white pepper and caramelised brown sugar and you are in the right ball park.
Tastewise, sweet malt juiciness dominates, kind of, balanced by a bitter tang that threatens to give balance to the beer but ultimately makes it like biting though the rind of an orange in your morning marmalade - marmalade was very much a theme running through this beer, specifically thick cut Seville orange marmalade, preferably from Marks and Spencer.
This is a full bodied, smooth, beer which fails to be either cloyingly sweet or overwhelmingly 'hoppy' - as in lots of late addition hops that make you feel like you are sucking your way through a grapefruit grove. As cheesy as it may sound, it really is very well balanced, the malt sweetness is there, and the hops play off it to perfection, giving a smoothness that belies its, calculated, 125 IBU.
In short, this is a very drinkable beer, especially given its strength and the amount of hops that went into it, and from a brewing perspective, one of the best beers I have made in quite some time.
This post is about another homebrewer who made the beer, thanks Derek for taking part! If you also brewed the beer, post a link in the comments, or tell us how it turned out!