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Burton Ale BIAB Recipe

Burton Ale BIAB Recipe

The grand Burton Ale, a style not discussed very often these days, unfortunately! The Burton Ale is named after the English town of Burton-on-Trent, which had a unique water profile. In this article, I’ll discuss my delicious Burton Ale BIAB recipe!

What is a Burton Ale?

The Burton ale is a very strong, rich, dark beer. Burton ales were first brewed in the 1800s in England. They are thought to predate the ever-popular IPA, which later replaced the Burton ale in popularity. They did have a fairly strong bitterness relative to other beers during their time, but not compared to IPAs that we think of today. These ales generally have nice dried fruit aroma and taste, derived from the malt as well as the yeast occasionally.

When Burton Ales originated, they were not always dark. They were originally brewed with 100% pale malt. Later on, when dark invert sugar was being used more often, the SRM increased.

Similar to British Bitters, they did come in several different strengths throughout their years of production.

These ales were popular until about the 1960s when they, unfortunately, fizzled out in popularity.

I got most of this information from this informative PowerPoint put together by Bill Schneller. I would highly recommend checking it out if you have more interest in learning about the style!

How to Brew a Good Burton Ale

Characteristics of a great burton ale include us of hard water, solid strength, use of English ingredients, and sufficient aging time.

As noted briefly above, Burton-on-Trent has a very ‘hard’ water profile. Specifically, it was very high in gypsum. To recreate the same overall impression of a Burton Ale, you will want to harden your brewing water. Fortunately for brewers these days, they do make Burton Water Salts. This blend specifically combines gypsum and papain. If you do not have access to these salts, you can use gypsum on its own with a small amount of calcium chloride.

Fun fact I learned while I was linking the burton salts: people have been using the salts in their home seltzer water to mimic San Pelligrino mineral water! I’m not going to lie, I still have yet to try San Pelligrino, but it sounds like quite a few people get down on it.

As much as possible, you will want to source English ingredients for this recipe. This goes for the malts used, as well as hops (Goldings), and yeast.

The Burton Ale does often require prolonged aging time to reach its full potential. Obviously, this is partly dependent on the strength of the recipe that you brew. You will want to let a stronger beer age longer than a weaker one. Ideally, I try to let these beers age for 8-12 months. You’ll see that the recipe below was in the moderate range as far as strength goes. This recipe was brewed for an upcoming Burton Ale competition, so I only had 4-5 months to let this one sit.

If brewed now (late winter), it would be pretty perfect timing to have a wonderful beer when it starts getting cold again (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).

This recipe is for a one gallon BIAB batch. It can be scaled up as much as you need to for a larger BIAB or all-grain batch!

Burton Ale Recipe


Volume: 1 gallons  (3.8L)
Predicted SRM 30.43
Predicted IBU 65.84
Original Gravity 1.072
Final Gravity 1.018
ABV- 7.09%


2.5lb (1.13kg) Maris Otter
8oz (226.8 grams) Special Roast Malt
2oz (56.7 grams) Chocolate Malt


0.75oz (21.3 grams) East Kent Goldings (60 minutes)
0.25oz (7.1 grams) East Kent Goldings (Dry Hop Day 5)

Other Additions:

3oz (90.7 grams) Brown Sugar
Irish Moss (10 minutes)


Flagstaff Tap Water
1tsp (4 grams) Gypsum
1/8tsp (0.43 grams) CaCl
0.5mL Lactic Acid

*** Can use Burton Water Salts (as discussed above)


Safale S-04 (1/3 packet)

*** Can use White Labs Burton Ale Yeast (will discuss in detail below)


Heat 5 quarts of strike water to 162°F (72.2C). Add brewing salts. Mill the grains and mix with strike water to reach a mash temperature of 152°F (66.7C). Hold mash temperature for 60 minutes. Sparge the grains with 170°F (76.7C) water until you reach a volume of 2 gallons (7.6L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, following the hop schedule. Add Irish moss at 10 minutes.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 64°F (17.8C). Aerate the wort and pitch the yeast. Ferment at 64-68°F (17.8-20C) for 2 weeks, then cold crash the beer to 35°F (1.7C). Bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes of CO2. Age until delicious.


Yeast Choice

To replicate the Burton Ale, you will want to use an English ale yeast. Safale S-04 is the one that I used, and I believe people are most familiar with. However, White Labs does make a specific Burton Ale Yeast. Interestingly enough, I have used this yeast very successfully in ciders due to the unique apple, pear, and honey notes that it lends.

If you have a favorite English ale yeast that you’ve had great success with, feel free to use that! Or better yet, experiment with some different ones.

Increased Boil Time

Many recipes for this style of beer use prolonged boil times in the 90-120 minute range. You will get increased caramelization and thicker mouthfeel with this prolonged boil time. If this is something you would like to experiment with, please make sure to adjust your hop schedule so you don’t end up with an overly bitter beer.

Invert sugar

As discussed briefly above, in the middle-to-latter days of Burton Ale’s popularity, invert sugar was used in the brewing process. Invert sugar is what lent the darker color to the ale.

As you can see in the recipe, I did substitute brown sugar for the invert sugar. If you would like to be as ‘traditional’ as you can with the brewing process, I would recommend using a small amount of invert sugar! Many times, brewers would keep additions of darker malt very low, and instead add up to 20% invert sugar!

Thank you for stopping by!

If you are interested in how to homebrew using the brew-in-a-bag BIAB method, please see my post here.

If you would like to see more small batch recipes like this, please follow this link.