Spike Brewing 12.5 Conical Fermenter Giveaway!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Recipes/Ingredients > Building a British bitter from the bottom up

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 09-13-2009, 11:42 PM   #1
Nugent
Session ale enthusiast
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Nugent's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 692
Liked 8 Times on 8 Posts
Likes Given: 15

Default Building a British bitter from the bottom up

Just back from the UK and fell hard for real ales, especially bitters. Had some fantastic, yet seemingly simple, light-coloured bitters, especially in Scotland (Kelburn's Goldihops, Caringorm's Trade Winds, Caledonian Deuchar's IPA (neither a bitter really, nor an IPA in the NA sense), etc.). Have decided that to get the British bitter/ale that I really want, I'm going to start from the basics. Here's what I brewed yesterday:

AG ESB malt/Goldings SMaSH

OG: 1.042
SRM: 5.6
IBU: 37.4
Batch size: 5.5 gals.
Mash: 60 mins. @ 154F (68% eff.)

8.5 lbs. of Gambrinus ESB malt
1.0 oz. Goldings (whole) (5.0%) @ 60 mins.
1.0 oz. Goldings (whole) (5.0%) @ 30 mins.
1.0 oz. of Goldings (whole) (5.0%) @ 10 mins.

1.0 tsp. Irish moss

Wyeast 1098

Water: Very soft Vancouver water - pH 6.7 (similar to Portland, OR, but even less dissolved solids)


Beyond what I like in a bitter, my question to you all is where you would go from here if you were me. Would you work with the malt side or hop side first? Would you keep what I have and monkey with ferm. temps, water profile or yeast?

All input would be appreciated. Thanks as always.

__________________
Nugent is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 12:31 AM   #2
WorryWort
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 741
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

If you're interested in changing only one thing at a time I'd start tweaking the malt bill. I find that these beers are very much defined by malt character.

However, water profile can have a big impact as well. Vancouver water is so pure. You need some salts in there to get the character you fell for. My best beers have all been made with salt additions, though they are also my most recent beers so this might be the other reason they are better. For bitter I would aim for something like:

Ca 50 - 100
SO4 100 - 200
Cl 20

I've never used that 1098 yeast myself, but 1968 is excellent and worth a try as well.

__________________
In Process - Russian Imperial Stout, Nelson Sauvin Rye IPA, Mild No.3

In Kegs - Barley Wine, Apfelwein, Wild BlackBerry Wheat, Coffee Oatmeal Porter

Gone - so many :(
WorryWort is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 01:09 AM   #3
jsullivan02130
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Posts: 205
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 9

Default

Nugent -- very interesting question. I would agree and go with tweaking the malt bill. Seem to me that EKGs are the quintessential UK hop and so I see no need to monkey with those.

I would however switch to Marris Otter as a base malt. This is another staple, can't-go-wrong ingredient.

Next, I'd add some dark crystal, perhaps .5 of 120 (less if you want to dial in and experiment).

You might then add Biscuit (or Victory, if you can't get Biscuit, pretty identical from what I've read here) and again you might start with .5 lb.

To WorryWort: I too have very soft water (Boston). What would you suggest as far as additions? 4-5 grams each of gypsum and chalk? I'd be keen on knowing specific suggestions.

__________________

"There is nothing in brewing so complicated that a little effort can't make even more complicated."

jsullivan02130 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 02:55 AM   #4
BigEd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,336
Liked 114 Times on 101 Posts
Likes Given: 15

Default

Nugent, I'll second the reply on water. Your water is almost Pilsen like so bumping up the ions as WW suggested is a good idea. I don't know anything about the malt you are using but British malt is going to make the best tasting British style beer IMO. A good UK pale malt should be the backbone of the recipe. I would go easy with the specialty malts. Dark crystal can be a little agressive. If you want a little color boost and background sweetness try some traditional Brit medium crystal in the 55L range at maybe 3-5% to start. As far as procedure goes I would use a basic British bitter hop schedule of one early (90 minutes) and one late (15 minutes). The three addition American style hop schedule makes a good beer but after years of using it without getting the results I wanted I switched to the two addition Brit style and found it really yields more of the Old World profile that makes a bitter a bitter. Personally I would drop the mash temp 2 or 3 degrees F to get a little more attenuation. The EKG hops are wonderful and one of my favorites although there are a number of other very nice UK varieties you may want to try. Fuggles, Bramling Cross, WGV and First Gold are all worth consideration.

__________________
BigEd is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 03:53 AM   #5
WorryWort
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 741
Liked 2 Times on 2 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jsullivan02130 View Post

I would however switch to Marris Otter as a base malt. This is another staple, can't-go-wrong ingredient.

You might then add Biscuit (or Victory, if you can't get Biscuit, pretty identical from what I've read here) and again you might start with .5 lb.

To WorryWort: I too have very soft water (Boston). What would you suggest as far as additions? 4-5 grams each of gypsum and chalk? I'd be keen on knowing specific suggestions.
I agree with all of this. Unfortunately, we can't easily get Marris Otter in Vancouver. Gambrinus is a very good maltster though, and their ESB is the closest thing we've got at LHBS. (Ordering grains via mail can be a b!tch, in cost and timing. The closest place I know is in Toronto. US web suppliers don't ship here cheaply)

Same goes for Victory. Biscuit is easy though,and it's a great substitute. I'm assuming Nugent goes to Dan's for supplies.

Jsullivan - It isn't just softness, but also sulfur to chloride ratio that is important. So I couldn't necessarily tell you without a water report.

This is a very simplified explanation but alkalinity influences the pH mostly. So 'soft water' doesn't necessarily mean you need to change. But you do need to adjust if you are brewing darker, or lighter beer. Generally speaking higher alkalinity favors darker beer. I don't know what you need without a water report.

However, in terms of the beer's flavour profile or character, more sulfur will make the hops and bitterness more pronounced, while more chloride will up the malt presence, or perception thereof.

See these:
How to Brew - By John Palmer - Balancing the Malts and Minerals
The Brewing Network.com - :

Both are great resources, and the brewstrong show has 2 follow up shows on the topic. Very, very helpful. I am just starting to experiment with water though, but it is already making a difference.
__________________
In Process - Russian Imperial Stout, Nelson Sauvin Rye IPA, Mild No.3

In Kegs - Barley Wine, Apfelwein, Wild BlackBerry Wheat, Coffee Oatmeal Porter

Gone - so many :(

Last edited by WorryWort; 09-14-2009 at 04:03 AM.
WorryWort is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 04:06 PM   #6
14thstreet
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Posts: 399
Liked 11 Times on 9 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

BigEd, is it your opinion that the 90 minute addition contributes anything other than bitterness? I've heard that some hop flavor or other characteristics come through depending on the hop. I'm not sure if that depends more on the amount or type of hop used or the style of beer.

__________________
Fermenters: Old Peculier w/ Xmas Pudding, Czech Dark Lager, Dopplebock
Bottled: Old Peculier
Kegs: JW Lees Best Mild
On Deck: Kumquat Kolsch
14thstreet is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 08:12 PM   #7
Freezeblade
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Oakland, California
Posts: 1,415
Liked 21 Times on 13 Posts

Default

If you're wanting to tweak little bits at a time, I'd say water profile first, as your water's really soft, then some crystal malt, about 10% 55L is what I use. To add some extra breadyness, you could start toasting some of your malt, or doing longer boils (90-120 mins) which will increase the mallard reactions and caramel tones.

__________________
Primary:Russian River Redemption clone, Kelly's Melomel, Graham's English Cider 22-23
Clearing:Apple Wine
Aging:Public House Dry Stout, Procrastination Porter, Mr. Brown Ale, Westvleteren 12 Clone, Mead, Duvel Clone, Graham's English Cider 6-21, Belgian Draak Strong Ale, Fig Melomel, Acerglyn, Restorative Tonic Metheglyn
Freezeblade is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 08:42 PM   #8
jlpred55
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 423
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 1

Default

If I am not mistaken bitters use a bittering addition and an aroma addition 0 min. I was not aware that they used a late addition or 15 min like BigEd is suggesting?

__________________
jlpred55 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 10:34 PM   #9
BigEd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,336
Liked 114 Times on 101 Posts
Likes Given: 15

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 14thstreet View Post
BigEd, is it your opinion that the 90 minute addition contributes anything other than bitterness? I've heard that some hop flavor or other characteristics come through depending on the hop. I'm not sure if that depends more on the amount or type of hop used or the style of beer.
I don't know what it is but I beat my head against the wall for years trying to re-invent the wheel with UK bitter hop additions. After trying all kinds of combinations based on the basic US three hop addition method the beers just never had the same kind of hop flavor that all the Brit beers I tasted drank. Once I tried the old UK profile of the two additions and a 90 minute boil it all fell together. I can't explain it but it certainly seems to work.
__________________
BigEd is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 09-14-2009, 10:37 PM   #10
BigEd
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 2,336
Liked 114 Times on 101 Posts
Likes Given: 15

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlpred55 View Post
If I am not mistaken bitters use a bittering addition and an aroma addition 0 min. I was not aware that they used a late addition or 15 min like BigEd is suggesting?
Not necessarily. A lot of recipes I looked at, many from UK brewing forums, seemed to have a late but before end of boil addition. This is the one I prefer although you could certainly use a 0 minute addition. Better yet might be to substitute dry hopping for a 0 minute addition.
__________________
BigEd is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
British Mild/Ordinary Bitter w/ Pacific Northwest. (NW) Ingredients Picobrew Recipes/Ingredients 46 08-01-2009 09:12 PM
British bitter tastes like a Belgian finn_ethan Extract Brewing 6 05-07-2009 02:30 PM
3rd Batch - British Best Bitter Brett3rThanU Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 3 04-22-2008 01:08 PM
British Ordinary Bitter jpsloan Extract Brewing 17 05-21-2007 11:04 PM
high temp for british bitter? fihzy Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 4 07-31-2005 12:03 AM