The Story of This Beer
“Pirate-in-Chief” is my 80 shilling Scottish export ale. It is the first recipe I designed myself, instead of using a clone recipe as a starting point. The name refers to Alexander Donaldson. I was reading Adrian Johns’ “Piracy” when I created this recipe. Donaldson, as a 18th century Scottish re-printer, played a role in the early common law around copyright. I may be overly romanticizing the man but kind of think of him as one of the first copy-fighters, trying to keep the incumbents, then the English printers, from using intellectual monopoly to exclude new opportunities and players.
This beer has a bit of a storied history. The very first batch didn’t quite turn out. It was fine up until bottling but then due to a lapse in my sanitization of the bottles picked up an infection. One out of four bottles was fine but that is too poor odds for sharing. I drank the good bottles out of that batch myself and poured the rest down the drain.
The third batch had a very slow start, taking almost two weeks to actually start fermenting. I was very worried I would have to pour that batch out, too. I rocked the fermenter for a couple of days and that seemed to do the trick. I think I both under pitched and didn’t fully aerate the wort. On bottling, it was a bit rough but has conditioned nicely since.
Recipe and Log
- 1st Version was a partial mash version and based on some very shallow research that got me surprisingly close to the style on the first try.
- 1st batch (1st recipe) – bottled 2011-04-23 (none left)
- 2nd Version of this recipe was an all grain conversion and a simplification. It is also one of the first beers where I did a bit more research to try to make the grain bill more accurate to the historical style. I am happy with this recipe and unlikely to change it further but we’ll see.
- 2nd batch (2nd recipe) – bottled 2012-10-02 (none left)
- 3rd batch (2nd recipe) – bottled 2015-05-02.
- 4th batch (2nd recipe) was brewed 2016-03-12 and packaged 2016-04-09. This was the 2nd beer I made with my new plate chiller and while it didn’t fail, it came up a bit short. The beer turned out wonderfully, despite that. Fining and kegging yield a bright, rosy version of the beer. The forced carbonation is noticeable smoother than any of the bottle conditioned prior batches. I am thrilled out how well I am able to craft this beer, even with considerable practice and equipment changes over the course of four beers.