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-   -   Randar's Best Bitter - 2011 British Bitter Brew-Off (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f64/randars-best-bitter-2011-british-bitter-brew-off-254195/)

Randar 06-29-2011 09:30 PM

Randar's Best Bitter - 2011 British Bitter Brew-Off
 
Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 13.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 18.5
Anticipated OG: 1.041
Anticipated SRM: 8.1
Anticipated IBU: 29
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grainbill:
16.00 lbs Golden Promise
1.25 lbs. Victory Malt
0.625 lbs. Crystal 50L
0.625 lbs. Crystal 68L

Hops:
3.80 oz. EKG (pellet) 4.50% 60 min - 25.3 IBU
1.50 oz. EKG (pellet) 4.50% 10 min - 3.6 IBU
2.00 oz. EKG (pellet) 4.50% flame-out - 0.0 IBU

Yeast:
WYeast 1318 - London Ale III (1 smack-pack)
WYeast 1026 - British Cask Ale (1 smack-pack)
WYeast 1469 - West Yorkshire Ale (1 smack-pack)

Mash:
Single Infusion Mash @ 1.0 qt/lb to hit 153 for 60 min
Mash-out to 170
Fly Sparge for roughly 1 hr

Collect 15.5 gallons pre-boil volume

Fermentation:
- Chill to 64 degrees and aerate (I use pure O2) and pitch holding at 64 degrees for the first 24 hours
- allow fermentation to rise to 68 degrees and hold for 4 days
- drop temp to 64 degrees for ~2 more days
- Cold Crash for 1 week (my ferm chamber can only get down to 50 degrees)

MISC Notes:
- I over-modified my water a bit and ended up with an overly-aggressive Cl:SO4 ratio approaching 0.50. This contributed to an overly harsh hop note that was noticeable in all 3 beers although it was more noticeable in 1026 and 1469 than the 1318 variant.
- Bottle primed with DME (boiled in just enough water to dissolve) to 1.25 volume target carbonation.

This batch was evenly split to 3 carboys and fermented simultaneous with the 3 yeasts listed above with a single smack pack of yeast (fully revived, no starter). The follow outcome was observed:

Initial tastes at bottling:
- 1026 is very clean, and the bitterness is assertive. Did not have the esters of the others
- 1318 was a smooth fruitiness that balanced well with the hops. Will have to taste again to see if I detect specific esters. More pleasantly balanced than 1026 and no tartness of the 1469.
- 1469 has a tart fruitiness to it. Interesting but not what I was really looking for per se.


The judging sheets from the British Bitter Brew-Off as judged by KingBrianI and friends are at the following links in Google Docs:
1026 (scored 28 and 39): https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_vHhnN Wiu9VMzE0MDg3MjAtYWU2My00NTljLTk0ZWItNWI3ZmUzOWU3Z TYy&hl=en_US&authkey=CPzKgdYN
1318 (scored 34 & 35): https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_vHhnN Wiu9VYTJhOTRmMWQtOWZhMS00MTM3LTk3MmYtNzVlNjQwNzk5Y jE4&hl=en_US&authkey=CLXYqcYO
1469 (scored 33 & 37):https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_vHhnN Wiu9VYzk0MDkzYTItYzBkZi00NGYzLWI4N2YtM2U0MDg4ZTVkM mVh&hl=en_US&authkey=CIrXm7AP

My comments on the 3 variants:
- 1026: This yeast formed little to no visible krausen and dropped out of suspension like a fine powdery silt. Flavors really seemed flat and muted with this yeast. Esters were nearly non-existent although the malt did show through a little (although a bit muted, in my opinion). None of the hop flavor or aroma really came through, although the bitterness was still evident. Overly-clean for the style. This yeast seems to elicit divergent opinions. People have either found the clean profile to be very nice and others found it very "blah". Seems Brian and Scott had the same view of it in their tasting (although I have no idea where the cocoa powder comments come from in Scott and Erin's notes)
- 1318: Ester profile was most evident and most "to-style" in my view. It was balanced with the malt although the harsh bitterness due to my over-modification of the water profile made the hop harshness drown out a bit of the lingering ester characteristics. Overall, this was my favorite of the 3. Yeast had a rocky krausen that required agitation to dissipate and drop out.
- 1469: Ester profile had some tartness that I do not think was infection-related, but created an almost kolsch-like yeast character in this batch. The harshness of the bitterness was most evident here (perhaps the tartness of the yeast's esters were accentuating it?). Again cocoa powder was noted by Scott and Erin in their notes, although I have not noted this in my tastings. I don't know if the unique Victory malt flavors are being perceived as cocoa or if it was simply the C68 UK crystal's toasty notes. Yeast had a rocky krausen that required agitation to dissipate and drop out.

In the end, 1318 was my favorite, as it had the most balanced profile and most interesting ester characteristics (1469 may have competed here if not for the accentuated harshness). I hope to post a picture as this was a lovely copper colored bitter that has been pretty well received despite the slightly harsh bitterness (due to my muck-up on the water modification). It is still a very drinkable bitter even 2 months later. I am still sort of amazed at the differing opinions on the 1026 variant. I don't think I will use it in a bitter again, but it might work nicely in a more malt-forward English style like a Brown Ale, Porter, or Stout.

cwhouston 11-26-2011 11:39 PM

Great comparison Randar - I'll take note when purchasing these yeasts.

Sock 08-17-2013 01:59 AM

To Randar
Do you find that the Victory set of grain leaves a ..... overly grain/earthy note to your Bitter?


I'm trying to figure out if it's the Victory that I don't care for or something in my brew practices. The one glaring thing is the flavour only shows up when I use that grain. I use in a bitter recipe and a Pale ale. It's not off putting just something that I notice.. No one else get's it.


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