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Old 01-24-2013, 10:03 PM   #1
SkiNuke
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Default ESB Conundrum

This probably should be two separate posts in two separate sections, but here goes.

I have been on a British beer kick for a little while, and have come to the realization that I don't really know what a true ESB or Bitter tastes like! I make a darn tasty something, but I don't know how close to style I am actually getting. What all can we get in the states (specifically CO) that I could taste and train my taste buds (Microbrews that are authentic tasting, imports from England, etc).

Second, here is an ESB recipe I am thinking of doing. I have done similar ones in the past that have turned out pretty good, but I always like to improve.

Batch size: 5.5 gal
Boil volume: 7.3 gal
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.014
Bitterness (IBU): 40.3
Color (SRM): 11.1
ABV: 5.6%

10.00 lb Maris Otter Malt, 90.9%
0.50 lb Crystal 40L, 4.5%
0.25 lb Special Roast, 2.3%
0.25 lb Crystal 120L, 2.3%

0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 60 min, 24.2 IBU
0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 20 min, 14.7 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 1 min, 1.4 IBU

Wyeast 1968

Please pick it apart. The only thing I am really set on is using Northdown since I just bought a pound of them and want to see what they taste like.

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Old 01-25-2013, 12:08 AM   #2
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The recipe looks great- love northdown. In my experience, ESB's and bitters in the UK are vastly different from what we make here in the US, even as homebrewers, and I just can't figure out what the difference is.

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Old 01-25-2013, 12:10 AM   #3
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The standard for ESB's would probably be Fuller's ESB from England which is widely available in the states. Others available from the UK include Wychwood Hobgoblin, Young's Special London Ale, Wells Bombardier; and US versions include Redhook ESB, New Belgium 2 Below Winter Ale, and Lefthand Sawtooth.

Can You Brew It did clone recipes for Fuller's ESB, Wychwood Hobgoblin, and there is a recipe for Bombardier as well on their webpage/podcast but the recipe isn't on the thread's database yet. Hope this helps

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Old 01-25-2013, 01:58 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiNuke View Post
This probably should be two separate posts in two separate sections, but here goes.

I have been on a British beer kick for a little while, and have come to the realization that I don't really know what a true ESB or Bitter tastes like! I make a darn tasty something, but I don't know how close to style I am actually getting. What all can we get in the states (specifically CO) that I could taste and train my taste buds (Microbrews that are authentic tasting, imports from England, etc).

Second, here is an ESB recipe I am thinking of doing. I have done similar ones in the past that have turned out pretty good, but I always like to improve.

Batch size: 5.5 gal
Boil volume: 7.3 gal
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.014
Bitterness (IBU): 40.3
Color (SRM): 11.1
ABV: 5.6%

10.00 lb Maris Otter Malt, 90.9%
0.50 lb Crystal 40L, 4.5%
0.25 lb Special Roast, 2.3%
0.25 lb Crystal 120L, 2.3%

0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 60 min, 24.2 IBU
0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 20 min, 14.7 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 1 min, 1.4 IBU

Wyeast 1968

Please pick it apart. The only thing I am really set on is using Northdown since I just bought a pound of them and want to see what they taste like.
If you want to know what an English Bitter tastes like, you really want to visit England, and try them in the pubs. The bottled versions that you get in the States are really nothing like the naturally conditioned real ales that you can get in England.

As regards your recipe, the Maris Otter is great.
I use 5% English crystal (60L Muntons), to complete the grain bill. No need for special roast or crystal 120.

I've never used Northdown hops, but your hopping schedule looks good to me.

-a.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:19 AM   #5
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I agree with ajf on both points. Fuller's and Bombadier are as close as you can get, but not true cask ale. If you get BYO Magazine, they had a Fuller's feature, and the recipes for the export version differed slightly esp. the ABV, but it had some great recipes right from the source. Also, a bitter recipe should be pretty simple, 95% MO and 5% Crystal.

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Old 01-25-2013, 02:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post
As regards your recipe, the Maris Otter is great.
I use 5% English crystal (60L Muntons), to complete the grain bill. No need for special roast or crystal 120.
Are you mashing high or using an under-attenuating yeast to keep the FG out of the single digits with that type of grain bill?
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:31 AM   #7
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I think that technically, as ajf pointed out, the special roast and the dark crystal moves it a little bit outside of typical ESB range, but certainly not impossible.

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Old 01-25-2013, 03:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiNuke View Post
This probably should be two separate posts in two separate sections, but here goes.

I have been on a British beer kick for a little while, and have come to the realization that I don't really know what a true ESB or Bitter tastes like! I make a darn tasty something, but I don't know how close to style I am actually getting. What all can we get in the states (specifically CO) that I could taste and train my taste buds (Microbrews that are authentic tasting, imports from England, etc).

Second, here is an ESB recipe I am thinking of doing. I have done similar ones in the past that have turned out pretty good, but I always like to improve.

Batch size: 5.5 gal
Boil volume: 7.3 gal
OG: 1.056
FG: 1.014
Bitterness (IBU): 40.3
Color (SRM): 11.1
ABV: 5.6%

10.00 lb Maris Otter Malt, 90.9%
0.50 lb Crystal 40L, 4.5%
0.25 lb Special Roast, 2.3%
0.25 lb Crystal 120L, 2.3%

0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 60 min, 24.2 IBU
0.75 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 20 min, 14.7 IBU
1.00 oz Northdown (AA 9.6%, Pellet) 1 min, 1.4 IBU

Wyeast 1968

Please pick it apart. The only thing I am really set on is using Northdown since I just bought a pound of them and want to see what they taste like.

SkiNuke, I'm going to start out by saying that I agree with ajf and sasky7777 on their points. Keep the recipe simple. UK pale malt doesn't need the flavor help from a lot a specialty malts like domestic pale. The 95/5 ratio of pale/crystal is a good start. Small point but use the UK crystal in the 45-60L range. Munton's, Baird's and Simpson's are all good choices. Fuller's ESB, the prototype of the style, has a beautiful deep dark amber color. I've found a couple of TBS of chocolate malt can add a nice tone to the color. Northdown is a good hop but I'd suggest using a low alpha British noble variety for the late addition. Kent Golding, Fuggles, or WGV would all be good choices depending on your taste preference.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GinSlinger View Post
Are you mashing high or using an under-attenuating yeast to keep the FG out of the single digits with that type of grain bill?
I mash both ESB and Special Bitter at 150F with a mash thickness of 1 qt / lb.
I use WLP002 which gives me ~75% attenuation for the first generation, and ~80% for subsequent generations. For a Special Bitter this usually gives me a FG of 1.008 - 1.012, and for an ESB, a FG of 1.010 - 1.014.
I don't like using a first generation yeast for an ESB, as occasionally I get a higher FG than I am used to.

-a.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:15 AM   #10
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Thanks for the responses! I think I'll try slimming down the grain bill.

Also, I have a bar/grill near me that tries to go along with the theme of being a British pub, and I think they might have Bass Ale on tap. Would this be a good representation of what the style actually is?

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