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Old 04-24-2009, 03:46 PM   #1
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Default Special bitter recipe critique?

Hey All,
I've been away for a while, left in January and now I am back to a point where I can brew one or two more batches before I have to leave again. So seeing as this is my first brew in a while, I was wondering if y'all could critique this recipe I came up with for a special bitter. I had the Coniston Bluebird Bitter the other day and just had to brew one. Let me know what y'all think. Thanks.

Recipe: Corgi's Bitter
Brewer: AJ Lott
Asst Brewer: Kate Lott
Style: Special/Best/Premium Bitter
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 3.00 gal
Boil Size: 3.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.047 SG
Estimated Color: 12.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
4 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 77.97 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 9.75 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 9.75 %
2.1 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 2.53 %
0.75 oz Fuggles [4.70 %] (60 min) Hops 21.4 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (20 min) Hops 9.2 IBU
0.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (5 min) Hops 2.7 IBU
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) Yeast-Ale


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 5.13 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Step Add 7.70 qt of water at 164.0 F 154.0 F



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Old 04-24-2009, 03:57 PM   #2
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I would replace the chocolate malt with dark caramel malts like Crystal 120 and/or Special B (about 10% of the grain bill), and back off on the Carapils a little.



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Old 04-24-2009, 04:12 PM   #3
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Not to sound like I don't respect your opinion, but why? I'm sorry if I sound like an asshole, but I like to know why I am making changes and I think when someone gives advice like this, they should back that advice up. Cheers

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Old 04-24-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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ROFL... ok

In an English Pale Ale, you usually want substantial crystal malt flavor with no roastiness. Even though you use only a little bit of chocolate malt, I'd prefer to do the color adjustment with darker crystal malts for a bit of added complexity that blends harmoniously with the light crystal as well as the fruity esters produced by the yeast instead of competing with those flavors, as a light roastiness might - you may well end up with a Pale Ale/Mild hybrid otherwise. For instance, I use 4% Pale Chocolate in my English Mild (inspired by Orfy's), and that one definitely has distinct roasty notes (not overpowering, but definitely noticable).

As for the Carapils, I just think that 10% of the grainbill is a lot for medium-gravity beer that is mashed at a perfectly acceptable temperature for producing decent mouthfeel. It's an English Pale Ale, so you don't need to worry about head retention, either.

I hope this helps!

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Old 04-24-2009, 05:43 PM   #5
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I would probably do the following: drop the carapils alltogether and mash high, around 154-156 (you're going to get plenty of dextrins and unfermentables with the 20L crystal and mashing higher), replace the chocolate malt with some crystal 120L, or english dark 135L if you can find it (I really don't think the chocolate malt taste belongs in a bitter at all), bump up the bittering fuggles addition to 1oz, then move that and the goldings addition to First Wort Hop (this will smooth the bittering a bit, as well as give flavor), and the aroma addition to flameout. This would make the recipe look more like this:

4# MO (86.4%)
8oz Crystal 20L (10.8%)
2oz Crystal 120L (2.8%)

1oz Fuggles@FWH
.5oz EKG@FWH
.5oz Fuggles@Flameout

OG: 1.043
IBUs: 30.7*
Color: 8.5

This looks pretty tasty, I'd drink the heck out of it. IMHO. YMMV. HAND.

*general consensus seems to be that FWH should be calculated as a 20 min addition in terms of bitterness, so this was factored in when IBUs were calculated.

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Old 04-24-2009, 05:49 PM   #6
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Hi there....

I don't have my recipe calculator handy, but it seems like the color will maybe come out darker than you might want. 12.8 seems low - just a hunch.

I just brewed a nice ESB and was pretty pleased how it came out. I kept the grain bill pretty simple. Here is what I would suggest:

Remove the chocolate and replace with Cara/Caramel 10 or 20. This will reduce the roast flavor and add to some subtle sweetness.

Reduce the carapils by 50%, and add that to the base Pale malt. I am not sure that much body and head retention is needed for the style, and you may be better off adding a little to the base malt to get the gravity to around 1.052. Bitters are typically less carbonated and don't benefit from as much carapils/malto dextrine as a more typical ale might.

I like the hops. Depending on what you like in a bitter, you may just push the last hop addition back to the last minute to give more aroma - but that is just a personal preference.

Bottom line - I think your recipe looks great. If you are shooting for a classic ESB type, maybe you might think of modifying it a bit. If you are more interested in the taste and body profiles that pointed you to developing this recipe - go for it! I am a big fan of chocolate and roasted barley ( I like American Stouts), so I would love to hear how this recipe tastes.

Good brewing!

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Old 04-24-2009, 05:58 PM   #7
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*shrug* I think it looks good as-is.

That's only 2 ounces of chocolate...there will be a slight hint of roastiness, but it will just round out the character of the beer. Probably be a good color, too. I'm not a huge fan of carapils and I might cut that in half but it's to style and will work fine if you want a lot of body. I would NOT mash high, as those dextrins have always been unpleasant in my experience. I'd go 154°F MAX.

The hops look great...that's pretty much how I did my last ESB, which is currently fermenting.

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Old 04-25-2009, 01:45 AM   #8
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I'd drop the cara pils and the chocolate entirely, replace the 8 oz crystal 20 with 4 oz crystal 55, and make up the shortage with more M.O. I think that this would more accurately match the description of the beer (a hint of color from the dash of crystal) given on the Coniston Brewing web site, although it will have a higher ABV and lower IBU than described.
Reducing the crystal and eliminating the cara-pils will also reduce the body, but mashing thick with only 1 qt water per lb grain at 150 to 152F (a traditional english mash thickness and temperature) will make up for that.
For the hops, you may want to up the bittering addition a bit. (The web site says 36 - 38 IBU's), and with a small batch, your hiop utilization may be a bit low.
Finally, I would not use the 1028 for a bitter as it ferments too dry. I think the 1968 would be a better choice if you want the character of a bitter.

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Old 04-25-2009, 01:50 AM   #9
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I don't mind 2 ounces of chocolate for a 5 gallon batch, but might be too much for 3.

Cut the cara in half.
Take 2 pounds of your base malt and toast at 350 for 30 minutes.
Take the choco to 1 ounce.

Moce your flameout hops to 15 minutes.

Mash at 156-158 for 45 minutes.

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Old 04-25-2009, 04:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukebrewer View Post
Not to sound like I don't respect your opinion, but why? I'm sorry if I sound like an asshole, but I like to know why I am making changes and I think when someone gives advice like this, they should back that advice up. Cheers
Well you do sound like an asshole, don't be sorry. You asked for critiques and you got one. That said here's my critique: Too much specialty malt, this is going to give you a "flabbly" beer, overly sweet and lacking a clean finish. It is also going to be on the dark side with the chocolate malt addition. Back the crystal malt down to 5%, maybe 7% if you want it on the sweet side; one TBS or about 1/2 oz of chocolate malt will give you a little color boost if you are looking for that perhaps giving the beer a similar color to Fuller's ESB. I like dextrine malt but 9.75% in a British bitter is way too much IMO, especially with a mash temp of 154F. Either eliminate it entirely or at least lower the percentage to a maximum of 3%. Replace the reduced specialty malts with more pale malt. I would also suggest a traditional British hop schedule of one 90 minute addition and one late additon of 15/10 minutes. After trying every possible hop schedule for this style of beer over the years that one makes the best bitter.


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