I'm going to have a second try at what I was attempting for last festival. This time I will order the correct grain and not mix it up with a second recipe. This is the Irish Red recipe from Classic Styles, with a few small changes. I've halved the amount of roast barley because the type I can get is darker than the one the recipe calls for. I've swapped out a little of the pale malt for smoked malt. I'm going very cautious on the smoked, don't panic. A proper rauch beer recipe has 33% beech smoked malt. I'm only using 5%.
Nods to 16/17th century brewing:
-Low levels of specialty malts. The old recipe I'm looking at just says "malt". I've read some things that suggest early malts were all dark. Others think it was paler but likely mixed in with some bits that got too hot. Wood smoke was almost certainly involved.
-a smallish amount of low alpha acid English hops, added only at the start of the boil.
I'm not using historical mashing technique though. I'm not set up for gravity mashing. So I'm aiming at a line somewhere between authenticity and a tested recipe. I also don't want to serve anything much higher than 5% alcohol for safety/health/limiting intoxication reasons. The old recipe has twice the malt, which would mean something less than twice the alcohol (efficiency of sugar extraction drops with higher grain to water ratio). Later, when not under pressure as the only brew for an event, I'll have a go with these ratios and see what happens. I'd like to know better how to imitate the old malt though.
I'm still evolving my plan for the small beer. I think I'll keep it simple and not use either honey or spices. If it comes out a bit tasteless, I can steep the orange and spice and add it in later.