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Old 10-10-2013, 07:18 PM   #1
Skeptidelphian
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Default Best Bitter Formulation

Hey all,

I recently acquired a party pig and since I hear they're good for cask ales, was looking to put together a best bitter to show it off.

Efficiency is 70%, boil length 60 minutes, boil size ~7.25 gallons, and setup is all grain.

Grain
• 7.5 lbs Maris Otter
• 1 lb English Crystal 60L
• 1 lb Torrified Wheat

Hops
• 0.5 oz AAU Kent Goldings, FWH
• 7 AAU Challenger, Bittering, 60 minutes
• 0.5 oz Kent Goldings, Aroma, knockout

Yeast
• 1 Vial WLP 002

Other
• Whirlfloc
• Gypsum (I have good brewing water, just a little low on sulfate)

Fermentation
• Primary 66F until complete
• Condition 1 week in primary
• Overnight cold crash
• Rack to Party Pig/Bottle, 2.0 volumes of CO2
• Condition 1 week

The points I'm most concerned about are yeast choice and the grain bill. I've seen some more complex bitter recipes but from what I've seen the Brits are a little simpler in their bills. I'm trying to adhere to the 80/10/10 ration for the most part. What about yeast? Is there a better strain out there than 002? I like it primarily because it's so damn flocculent.

I'm trying to put my best effort, process, and ingredients into this beer so it's worthy of the appellation "Best".

Thanks!


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Old 10-10-2013, 10:58 PM   #2
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002 should work fine, provided you pitch enough of it. One vial is more than likely insufficient for 5 gallons.

Grist looks all right, but I have to ask for why the wheat? Are you having foam problems or something? If you are, and that's why you're adding it, you're using waaaaaaay too much. 4 oz is sufficient in 5 gallons.

If you're trying the 80/10/10, stick with sugar or, if you can't bring yourself to do that, flaked maize. Don't know why you wouldn't just use sugar.

Cheers,

Bob


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Old 10-11-2013, 12:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob
002 should work fine, provided you pitch enough of it. One vial is more than likely insufficient for 5 gallons. Grist looks all right, but I have to ask for why the wheat? Are you having foam problems or something? If you are, and that's why you're adding it, you're using waaaaaaay too much. 4 oz is sufficient in 5 gallons. If you're trying the 80/10/10, stick with sugar or, if you can't bring yourself to do that, flaked maize. Don't know why you wouldn't just use sugar. Cheers, Bob
Bob, the man himself! Thanks for responding.

I may end up going with S-04. I also have a vial of 005 lying around that I could make a starter for (I intended to make one with that vial of 002, if I bought it.

The wheat, well I read it was also a common adjunct and it also builds body. I'm not an expert on formulation yet, which I why I asked! I've not had any problems with head on a beer yet (well, too much in a dunkelweizen).

Would a dab of wheat for head/body do and then turbinado do as a replacement? I'm not opposed to kettle sugars on principle.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:41 AM   #4
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I did a best bitter recipe from Jamil Zainasheff's "Brewing Classic Styles" that I really liked. It used far less crystal malt (.5 pound of 120L), but added a dab of special roast (3%) and some aromatic malt for a stronger malt flavor and aroma than an ordinary bitter. It's quite a bit different than your grainbill, so it'd be a totally different beer but I really liked it.

I'd skip the torrified wheat, just because I don't know what good it would do for this beer.

I'm not a fan of S04, unless you can keep it pretty cool (like under about 64 degrees). The esters it throws are not pleasant to me like other English strains. I'd go with the Wlp002, if you can.
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:55 AM   #5
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Just did a similar recipe for a summer golden ale minus the crystal but with a touch of aromatic . I often use torrefied wheat mainly as its a common ingredient in many commercial UK brews. Seems to help with body but need to do a side by side i guess to get a real idea. Often used in recipes in Graham Wheelers book BYOBRA.
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:22 AM   #6
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The torrified wheat is fine. It's a common adjunct in UK ales and at 10% I'd say about the right amount. Torrified wheat adds a nice toasty/grainy note. My preference on crystal malt here would be about 5% or about half a pound. Overall it's a straightforward and simple recipe and for a bitter, simple is usually best. Yeast choice is subjective. The 002 will do just fine, especially if you have had success with it before. Next time try another strain for comparison.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptidelphian View Post
Bob, the man himself! Thanks for responding.

I may end up going with S-04. I also have a vial of 005 lying around that I could make a starter for (I intended to make one with that vial of 002, if I bought it.

The wheat, well I read it was also a common adjunct and it also builds body. I'm not an expert on formulation yet, which I why I asked! I've not had any problems with head on a beer yet (well, too much in a dunkelweizen).

Would a dab of wheat for head/body do and then turbinado do as a replacement? I'm not opposed to kettle sugars on principle.
As BigEd notes, torrefied wheat is a common-enough adjunct in Real Ale brewing, though less common in Bitter than simple sugar and maize. I don't think it builds body at all, though it can impact flavor.

Wheat, as it has more protein than barley malt, is a useful addition in small quantities to aid foam. 4 ounces of wheat malt in 5 gallons is about right. But that shouldn't be an issue here.

View the above notes on "add a dab of this and a dash of that" or "that might be too much of that" with extreme caution. The 80/10/10 formula is proven. Not just by me, but by commercial brewers all over the UK.

That's not to say the commenters above are wrong, per se. It's saying something else entirely.

This is for the benefit of you other fellows, as Skeptidelphian has no doubt seen this lecture elsewhere: I've been brewing for twenty years. In that time, yeasts have gone from 3-4 types of dry packets to dozens of strains in multiple forms. Grist ingredients have expanded to dozens of grains. Hops varieties have gone completely STUPID. The knowledge base in the hobby has expanded exponentially. All of which change is a massive benefit to brewers everywhere.

One thing which unfortunately remains constant through this expansion is that brewers needlessly overcomplicate their recipes. I saw a recipe on here the other day with something like a dozen different grains in the grist. Then he had about seven hops additions. FOR A STOUT.

Yes, you can get a bit of biscuit if you put in 4-6 oz of Aromatic. But before you do that you should really examine what's at fault - the recipe, the style, or your expectations? Is there even a fault, or are you overthinking? Have you ever even tried to brew it simply? Overwhelmingly the answer is "No". If the answer is "No", put down the Beersmith database, do a little more research on the style than what other hobbyists are complicating their brewhouses with (i.e., don't look exclusively at homebrew recipes) and KISS.

Especially with such a simple beer as Bitter.

[/rant]

Now, as to yeast. As I said, 002 is perfectly acceptable, provided you've done your calculations and build a correctly-sized starter to pitch. Me, I hardly ever bother with that anymore, since dry yeasts have come so far. I'd use S-04 on this and have done. I think it'll do fine; I certainly don't think 002 will add anything more than the S-04. Now, if you were suggesting using one of the Wyeast artesinal British yeasts I'd support that over S-04 with jolly great knobs on.

Cheers,

Bob
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:25 AM   #8
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you can't go wrong with WLP002 (Fullers) or WLP005 (Ringwood). i'm sure dry yeast has come on a long way, but these two are certified classics for brewing this style.

My favourite best bitter recipe is just 90% Maris Otter, 10% Crystal, 1.044 OG, 30 IBUs from Challenger, Goldings, Northdown.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:41 AM   #9
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I like Ringwood too. I cut my professional teeth in a Ringwood brewery. That's why I advise hobby brewers to avoid it!

It is a yeast with some ... special ... characteristics. It can be difficult to manage unless you're very familiar with it. It is not a pitch-and-forget yeast.

Hell, lager brewing is easier than dealing with Ringwood.

I <3 what it brings to the table. I just can't stand dealing with it!
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:20 PM   #10
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I recently brewed a batch of Best Bitter and like Yooper based the recipe loosely on Jamil's. It's currently on tap and I like it a lot - I'm going to brew another batch soon, for bottles. Photo and recipe at http://www.singingboysbrewing.com/Best-Bitter.html

I used WLP005 British Ale - is that really the Ringwood strain? In any case, I fermented it at 64F and found it easy to work with and loved the results.


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