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Old 05-11-2010, 08:08 PM   #1
red96jeep
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Default next brew...a bitter?

hello all in celebration of finals week being over i'm looking to brew! i've been wanting to brew an English ale for ages now but have no real base to construct a good bitter from, so i think i am going to start with Northern Brewers British Bitter all grain kit. However i read on the comments that it seems to be watered down, and it doesn't have any crystal malts in the grain bill. i feel like this would be a good base for me to add too. i was thinking about adding somewhere from a half to 3/4 pound crystal 40 for a slight darkening and sweeter taste. thoughts? i would also like to play around with hops, what are some traditional english hops to use and how should they be used?

6lb-morris otter
.75lb-caramalt
.5lb-crystal40
1oz-EKG 60min
10z-EKG 1min
mash-153

any recommendations would be appricated

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Old 05-11-2010, 08:30 PM   #2
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A Bitter definitely needs some crystal and 1/2 lb is about right. A Bitter is better without an aroma add. Resist the urge to turn it into a Pale, a Bitter is a low-ABV session beer with a light malt finish. "Watered down" means the poster doesn't know how to evaluate a session beer.

As you posted, the IBUs are definitely on the low side for the style. There are a number of British bittering hops you could try. Target, Brewer's Gold, Progress, Fuggle.

3/4 oz Target 60
1 oz EKG 30
1 oz EKG 15

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Old 05-11-2010, 08:41 PM   #3
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I would also mash higher. You don't want to be left with a low gravity session beer that is "watered down". I mash my bitter at 158 YMMV.

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Old 05-13-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlpred55 View Post
I would also mash higher. You don't want to be left with a low gravity session beer that is "watered down". I mash my bitter at 158 YMMV.
I second mashing higher.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:26 PM   #5
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I did the following for a 2.5 gal batch of a Bitter that I recently brewed:

4 lbs 2-Row
4 oz Crystal 60L
4 oz Munich Malt
4 oz Cara-Pils

60 mins .75 oz Willamette pellet 4.8%
20 mins .25 oz Willamette pellet 4.8%
15 mins .5 oz Northern Brewer 8.5%

Mashed at 155 for 60 mins

OG=1.052
FG=1.013
IBU=47.0
ABV=5.2%

I know that this is a more American version of an ESB, but the grain bill may help you. I just had my first bottle and it turned out pretty good. It has a nice copper color and is nice and refreshing.

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Old 05-13-2010, 03:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
6lb-morris otter
.75lb-caramalt
.5lb-crystal40
1oz-EKG 60min
10z-EKG 1min
mash-153
I just recently bottled the first batch of what I hope is going to become my standard session beer, a special bitter. My recipe looked very close to yours, with a couple of minor alterations:

7 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb Crystal 60*L
Mash at 154*F for 60 minutes, batch sparge

1.5 oz Fuggles 60 min
1.5 oz Fuggles 10 min
1 whirlfloc tab at 10 min
1.5 oz Fuggles 5 min

As an aside, my Fuggles, while having been kept frozen and sealed, are from the 2008 crop, and BeerSmith calculated them as being 2.82% AA as of right now. So I made my additions based on that, for a total of about 29 IBU in the final beer. My OG was 1.045, projected FG was around 1.011. I used S-04. My actual FG was 1.006. A bit on the low side. Still excellent, but needs a bit more sweetness. I'm thinking of moving to 6.5 lbs MO and 1.5 lbs crystal for the next batch, or just fermenting colder and mashing higher (or something).

Your recipe looks excellent. I would certainly drink that beer. Maris is an excellent malt for British ales (DUH). And bitters of all sorts have crystal malt. It adds a bit of sweetness and the color that they're known for. You're definitely in the right range with your recipe. Maybe a tad more on the hops, or just move your 1 min addition to 10 min. However, I know nothing of caramalt. I've never used it and have no idea what it is, so I have no clue whether it goes well in a bitter or not. But everything else is spot-on.
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Old 05-13-2010, 03:52 PM   #7
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I don't have the recipe handy, but the Best Bitter recipe from Jamil's book, Brewing Classic Styles, is excellent. I've brewed it twice in the past 6 months, and it is one of my go-to session beers. I just add some gelatin finings in the keg and, after force carbing and letting it settle for two days, the thing is crystal clear and so so good.

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Old 05-13-2010, 04:07 PM   #8
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hey guys thanks for all the input, very helpful indeed. so i've decided to make a few changes based on your recommendations and here's what i've come up with.

6lb morris otter
.75lb caramalt
.5lb crystal 40
1oz EKG at 60min
1 oz EKG at 10 min(or first wort hop, i've been wanting to play around with that for a while but haven't had the brew time to do so)

mash around 156 for 60 mins, and give it a kiss for good luck.

also to address shadow's question about caramalt, i also have no idea what that is, it's included in the Northern Brewer kit that i am going to be altering, i figure i'll go with it this first time and if i dont like it i'll take it out for subsequent brews.

also still looking for a good hop pairing for my east kent goldings, as i am very unfamiliar with english hops i'm going to be spending some time researching them shortly but any input from the community would be helpful too.

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Old 05-13-2010, 07:00 PM   #9
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add 2 oz of crushed rye malt, gives nicer flavour and the colour is reddish.

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Old 05-14-2010, 10:58 PM   #10
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If you are used to American beers, this style will seem "watered down." If you carbonate it properly (1.5-2.0 volumes), enjoy it at the appropriate temp (about 45-50 F...I think, I usually pour and let it sit for 10 minutes), and appreciate the complexity of the beer...you will really enjoy it.

Eric

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