Brewed an Ordinary Bitter...

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eshea3

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We even have that here in England with mild ales. If you call a beer a mild it doesn't sell. So breweries call them something else. So in Manchester we have Hydes Black and Holts Black. Both dark milds obviously.

But has anything better than English Bitter ever emerged form England?! I've hit my 60s and it's been my favourite English thing ever since I was a teenager.

What's your favourite thing to have come out of England?!

Like @Miraculix I like English and American pale ales and alternate between them but my American pale ales are mostly like English bitters with US hops, and around 4 to 4.5%. And I often use a blend of English and US hops in these beers, it works great for me.
My daughter has lived in England for 12 years and I visit there about 2-3 times per year. Bitter and milds are my favorites, but the influence of American hops has exploded over the last few years. Still love to find a Taylor's on cask in the vicinity of her home, most often Landlord. Was lucky enough last spring to find a pub with a freshly tapped cask of Boltmaker as well. Another highlight of my visits was the Fuller's tour (pre Asahi) which ended in the cellar below the brewery where the guide freely pulled samples for about 30 minutes.
 

TyTanium

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This is a great thread. What are your go-to recipes? The one above looked great.

There's a brewpub in my town (Texas hill country area) that focuses on British cask ales...bitters/milds, all with hand pumps. Apparently the owners spent some time in the UK and had the same reaction all of us had - these beers are amazing and amazingly drinkable. So they tried to bring that feel here. Just missing the accents and meat pies.

And ditto on the pub ale story. There's another brewery near me that made a special bitter, and it just sat. They changed the name to pub ale and it sold out that day.

+1 to Landlord. I seek that out every time I go to the UK. And Belhaven up in Scotland. So so tasty. Also a big fan of the half pints...good for sampling but still feels like a proper beer instead of a little taster glass.
 

duncan_disorderly

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My daughter has lived in England for 12 years and I visit there about 2-3 times per year. Bitter and milds are my favorites, but the influence of American hops has exploded over the last few years. Still love to find a Taylor's on cask in the vicinity of her home, most often Landlord. Was lucky enough last spring to find a pub with a freshly tapped cask of Boltmaker as well. Another highlight of my visits was the Fuller's tour (pre Asahi) which ended in the cellar below the brewery where the guide freely pulled samples for about 30 minutes.
There are lots of cask ales featuring American hops now. But still plenty that only use English. Boltmaker is good, ive had it a few times recently, I'm only about 30 miles from the brewery but on the right (left) side of the Pennines.

I had a couple of wonderful pints of Black Sheep bitter yesterday, very fresh cask ale. Another Yorkshire brewery. Some good Yorkshire ales out there.
 

duncan_disorderly

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This is a great thread. What are your go-to recipes? The one above looked great.

There's a brewpub in my town (Texas hill country area) that focuses on British cask ales...bitters/milds, all with hand pumps. Apparently the owners spent some time in the UK and had the same reaction all of us had - these beers are amazing and amazingly drinkable. So they tried to bring that feel here. Just missing the accents and meat pies.

And ditto on the pub ale story. There's another brewery near me that made a special bitter, and it just sat. They changed the name to pub ale and it sold out that day.

+1 to Landlord. I seek that out every time I go to the UK. And Belhaven up in Scotland. So so tasty. Also a big fan of the half pints...good for sampling but still feels like a proper beer instead of a little taster glass.
It hardly needs recipes I think. Bitters vary mostly due to three things I reckon:
Yeast: cleaner or fruitier, and attenuation.
Crystal: amount and colour
ABV: bitters are mostly 3.5 to 5 % here in the UK. And 3.8 to 4.5% covers the majority you'll see on tap.

Winter will see more dark bitters that use darker crystal malts. Summer sees pale/golden bitters with pale or no crystal.

Some bitters have no late hops. Just bittering. Most will have a late addition though and many have a small amount of dry hops added to the cask.

Landlord is all pale malt with a bit of colouring. Invert sugar iirc.

SNPA is kind of like an Americanised bitter made with Cascade hops and Chico yeast, I'd say. A strong bitter. Cascade appears in quite a few English bitters now.
 

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I was happy to see a bitter thread pop up. Excited about my upcoming 10g best bitter attempt. Is there a must-use crystal, particularly when using Invert? I put C60 in the recipe but have 80 and 120 also
 
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BongoYodeler

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I was happy to see a bitter thread pop up. Excited about my upcoming 10g best bitter attempt. Is there a must-use crystal, particularly when using Invert? I put C60 in the recipe but have 80 and 120 also
I'm not sure if there's a "must-use" crystal, but in mine (pictured above), I used 4.8% of crystal 120.
 

WesBrew

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I'm a little afraid of raisin flavors which i hate but will switch to C80 for now. If I happen to be near the Distant Homebrew Shop i might pick up some UK dark crystal.
 

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I'm a little afraid of raisin flavors which i hate but will switch to C80 for now. If I happen to be near the Distant Homebrew Shop i might pick up some UK dark crystal.
You do not have to use crystal at all. Just use 5-10% medium invert, pale malt and if you like a dash of black malt or midnight wheat for colour adjustments. You can include 5-10% torified or flaked wheat for head retention. Keep the ibus around 30 and the abv at max at 4.3% and you'll have a nice British bitter with the right yeast.
 

Miraculix

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I was happy to see a bitter thread pop up. Excited about my upcoming 10g best bitter attempt. Is there a must-use crystal, particularly when using Invert? I put C60 in the recipe but have 80 and 120 also
Btw. There is a UK ale thread going on since some time, I would suggest to continue there to keep the information at one central place. Easier to find afterwards.

 

WesBrew

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Btw. There is a UK ale thread going on since some time, I would suggest to continue there to keep the information at one central place. Easier to find afterwards.

I'm on there. this was specific to bitters so i gave it a shot. I'm still pumped for a big batch of bitter.
 

Erik the Anglophile

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Just seconding what others have said, crystal very much has a place in bitters, but use it with moderation, around 5% and ~10% some quality darker variety cane sugar, maybe a few percent amber malt goes a long way in a darker bitter.
Only base and some sugar is enough in a lighter colored one.
If you want something along Tim Taylor, Samuel Smith etc(Northern Style Bitter), going easy on crystal and getting a decent high 70-low 80% AA and relatively high bu:gu ratios is recommended.
 

duncan_disorderly

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You do not have to use crystal at all. Just use 5-10% medium invert, pale malt and if you like a dash of black malt or midnight wheat for colour adjustments. You can include 5-10% torified or flaked wheat for head retention. Keep the ibus around 30 and the abv at max at 4.3% and you'll have a nice British bitter with the right yeast.
Indeed, plenty of bitters have zero crystal malt. I never go above 8% in my own bitters and I do 0% crystal bitters cos i was a big Boddingtons lover as a young man, and that's a great model for low abv refreshing simple bitters. There are Bodd recipes from various years on the Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog.
 

hout17

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Indeed, plenty of bitters have zero crystal malt. I never go above 8% in my own bitters and I do 0% crystal bitters cos i was a big Boddingtons lover as a young man, and that's a great model for low abv refreshing simple bitters. There are Bodd recipes from various years on the Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog.
When I attempt Ron's 71' Bodds again after this last iteration I am going to do 50/50 maris otter and chevallier and see how it comes out. I love the recipe as is but want to see what some Chevallier will bring to the table.

Just picked up some more turbinado sugar (6lb bag) to satisfy my invert needs.

PXL_20221205_193323110.jpg
 

Miraculix

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When I attempt Ron's 71' Bodds again after this last iteration I am going to do 50/50 maris otter and chevallier and see how it comes out. I love the recipe as is but want to see what some Chevallier will bring to the table.

Just picked up some more turbinado sugar (6lb bag) to satisfy my invert needs.

View attachment 807198
Do yourself a favour and use Chevallier on it's own. No MO. It is probably the greatest bitter malt to be, it deserves the whole stage for itself.
 

Miraculix

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I had never heard of Chevallier. I read up on it, and now I'm VERY intrigued!
It is the most flavourful base malt I know of. IF I would have to choose one base malt, it would be that one. it tastes basically like what we expect when we add a bit of crystal malt to a modern base malt. I just ordered 10 kg from the uk. My next two all grain beers will be a bitter and a london porter, the bitter will be 90% chevallier, rest wheat, the porter will be 30-50% Chevalier, rest imperial.
 

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There is an award winning ordinary bitter recipe in this site's BrewersFriend posted by @antmaniac. Herbal Joes Best Bitter


HOME BREW RECIPE:
Title: Herbal Joe's Best Bitter
Author: Ben Miller

Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: Ordinary Bitter
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.091
Efficiency: 73% (brew house)

Hop Utilization Multiplier: 1

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.015
ABV (standard): 4.52%
IBU (tinseth): 27.82
SRM (morey): 11.63
Mash pH: 0

FERMENTABLES:
7.5 lb - Finest Pale Ale Golden Promise (73.2%)
1 lb - Caramunich Type 1 (9.8%)
1 lb - Malted Rye (9.8%)
8 oz - Special Roast (4.9%)
4 oz - CaraAroma (2.4%)

HOPS:
1.5 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 16.06
1 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 20 min, IBU: 6.49
1 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 10 min, IBU: 3.88
3 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 1 min, IBU: 1.39

OTHER INGREDIENTS:
1 tsp - Gypsum, Time: 0 min, Type: Water Agt, Use: Mash
1 tbsp - Phosphoric acid, Time: 0 min, Type: Water Agt, Use: Sparge

YEAST:
Imperial Yeast - A09 Pub
Starter: No
Form: Liquid
Attenuation (avg): 69%
Flocculation: Very High
Optimum Temp: 64 - 70 F
Pitch Rate: 0.35 (M cells / ml / deg P)

PRIMING:
Method: co2
CO2 Level: 1.02 Volumes

TARGET WATER PROFILE:
Profile Name: Balanced Profile
Ca2: 0
Mg2: 0
Na: 0
Cl: 0
SO4: 0
HCO3: 0
Water Notes:

NOTES:
Mash at 158 for 30 minutes. Recirculate mash for 10 minutes then sparge.

Boil for 90 mins, with first hops in at 60. Cool to 67 then aerate for 2 minutes. Let fermentation temp rise to 72 after 5 days.

Cold crash and carbonate to 2.2.

Can add 2-3 oz of Fuggles at Day 5 and leave in for 2-4 days.

Gold Medal in 2022 NHA for Pale British Beer, 9B.

First brewed 9/18/22. Pre boils gravity was 1048 and post boil 1055! So 80% efficiency. Boiled 90 mins and had 5.1 gallons remaining so added .4 gallons distilled water to get to 5.5 gallons.

Used hop spider which retained some liquid with 6.5 oz of hops! That brought gravity down to 1050.

After 24 hours gravity was 1028 with temp at a constant 67f.
** Award Winning Recipe **

This recipe has been published online at:

Generated by Brewer's Friend - Brewer's Friend | Homebrew Beer Recipes, Calculators & Forum
Date: 2022-12-06 06:08 UTC
Recipe Last Updated: 2022-09-24 19:27 UTC
 

duncan_disorderly

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There is an award winning ordinary bitter recipe in this site's BrewersFriend posted by @antmaniac. Herbal Joes Best Bitter


HOME BREW RECIPE:
Title: Herbal Joe's Best Bitter
Author: Ben Miller

Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: Ordinary Bitter
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 5.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.091
Efficiency: 73% (brew house)

Hop Utilization Multiplier: 1

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.015
ABV (standard): 4.52%
IBU (tinseth): 27.82
SRM (morey): 11.63
Mash pH: 0

FERMENTABLES:
7.5 lb - Finest Pale Ale Golden Promise (73.2%)
1 lb - Caramunich Type 1 (9.8%)
1 lb - Malted Rye (9.8%)
8 oz - Special Roast (4.9%)
4 oz - CaraAroma (2.4%)

HOPS:
1.5 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 16.06
1 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 20 min, IBU: 6.49
1 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 10 min, IBU: 3.88
3 oz - Fuggles, Type: Pellet, AA: 4.5, Use: Boil for 1 min, IBU: 1.39

OTHER INGREDIENTS:
1 tsp - Gypsum, Time: 0 min, Type: Water Agt, Use: Mash
1 tbsp - Phosphoric acid, Time: 0 min, Type: Water Agt, Use: Sparge

YEAST:
Imperial Yeast - A09 Pub
Starter: No
Form: Liquid
Attenuation (avg): 69%
Flocculation: Very High
Optimum Temp: 64 - 70 F
Pitch Rate: 0.35 (M cells / ml / deg P)

PRIMING:
Method: co2
CO2 Level: 1.02 Volumes

TARGET WATER PROFILE:
Profile Name: Balanced Profile
Ca2: 0
Mg2: 0
Na: 0
Cl: 0
SO4: 0
HCO3: 0
Water Notes:

NOTES:
Mash at 158 for 30 minutes. Recirculate mash for 10 minutes then sparge.

Boil for 90 mins, with first hops in at 60. Cool to 67 then aerate for 2 minutes. Let fermentation temp rise to 72 after 5 days.

Cold crash and carbonate to 2.2.

Can add 2-3 oz of Fuggles at Day 5 and leave in for 2-4 days.

Gold Medal in 2022 NHA for Pale British Beer, 9B.

First brewed 9/18/22. Pre boils gravity was 1048 and post boil 1055! So 80% efficiency. Boiled 90 mins and had 5.1 gallons remaining so added .4 gallons distilled water to get to 5.5 gallons.

Used hop spider which retained some liquid with 6.5 oz of hops! That brought gravity down to 1050.

After 24 hours gravity was 1028 with temp at a constant 67f.
** Award Winning Recipe **

This recipe has been published online at:

Generated by Brewer's Friend - Brewer's Friend | Homebrew Beer Recipes, Calculators & Forum
Date: 2022-12-06 06:08 UTC
Recipe Last Updated: 2022-09-24 19:27 UTC
Looks like a great recipe but the Caramunich, special roast and CaraAroma would not be found in an English ale in England. And rye doesn't appear often, if ever, in a bitter. Not knocking it, just trying to point people towards authenticity if that's what people want.
 

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I like beers that use barely any crystal, like the Timothy Taylor stuff. But my regular drink during my time in the UK was Ringwood Best Bitter (now called Razorback) that contains a decent amount of crystal. I think it really comes down to what you'd like to emphasize. Too much malt flavour will distract from the yeast, which is supposed to shine. Somehow British beers are a bit like German wheat beers, it's all about the yeast.
Landlord is all pale malt with a bit of colouring.
The only brewery statement I could find said that they add roasted malt to the sparging, thereby getting colour but not flavour.
I just ordered 10 kg from the uk.
How easy is it to order that stuff at the moment. Did you order from The Malt Miller? I saw that they are one of the few that offer a fixed delivery cost to get the products through customs. My goal is currently to use some friends' visit in January to get some stuff here and I only need 1kg British Chevallier to compare it to my German one. But ordering might be useful if I want more Chevallier in the future.

By the way, I had a similar experience as @Miraculix when first coming to the UK. I really did not like German beer because Pils was too bitter for me, so when I saw bitter on the labels, I went for something else. The first beer I tried was thus what I believed to be a refreshing summer ale, because it was called "Summer Lightning". Boy, was I wrong!
I also had the idea of calling bitters "Pub Ale" if I ever manage to open a brewery for British ales in Germany. Would be such a great thing to have, though my main inspiration is going to the food declaration office asking for exemption from the Reinheitsgebot for a "Meat Stout" 😁
 

Colindo

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Yeah my thought was also this recipe look like a rather Americanised understanding of English ale.
This might be a general danger than online recipes, which are largely American, pose to brewer's. I think it is fine to acknowledge a different taste in the US that such recipes cater to and I have previously used rye malt in an Irish Red Ale with satisfying outcome.

But to make a properly British beer is quite a challenging thing and one needs to stick to the British way of brewing (ingredients, fermentation profile etc).
 

Miraculix

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I like beers that use barely any crystal, like the Timothy Taylor stuff. But my regular drink during my time in the UK was Ringwood Best Bitter (now called Razorback) that contains a decent amount of crystal. I think it really comes down to what you'd like to emphasize. Too much malt flavour will distract from the yeast, which is supposed to shine. Somehow British beers are a bit like German wheat beers, it's all about the yeast.

The only brewery statement I could find said that they add roasted malt to the sparging, thereby getting colour but not flavour.

How easy is it to order that stuff at the moment. Did you order from The Malt Miller? I saw that they are one of the few that offer a fixed delivery cost to get the products through customs. My goal is currently to use some friends' visit in January to get some stuff here and I only need 1kg British Chevallier to compare it to my German one. But ordering might be useful if I want more Chevallier in the future.

By the way, I had a similar experience as @Miraculix when first coming to the UK. I really did not like German beer because Pils was too bitter for me, so when I saw bitter on the labels, I went for something else. The first beer I tried was thus what I believed to be a refreshing summer ale, because it was called "Summer Lightning". Boy, was I wrong!
I also had the idea of calling bitters "Pub Ale" if I ever manage to open a brewery for British ales in Germany. Would be such a great thing to have, though my main inspiration is going to the food declaration office asking for exemption from the Reinheitsgebot for a "Meat Stout" 😁
Yes, maltmiller it was. They are great guys there, really helpful. I always recommend ordering there. They even tried to fix things that were clearly not their fault (Brexit mess and German customs..... Don't ask).

If you order a bit more than usual and stay below 150 euro (no German customs below 150) including shipment costs, the higher shipment rates are kind of neglectable. They got fair prices there as well, malt is generally a bit cheaper than in Germany.
 

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Seems like it's getting a bit difficult to get chevalier heritage now. The supplier in Sweden, where I buy from, has been out of it for quite some time now. Not sure if it's just them or if it's globally as well.
 

bwible

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It's weird to me that this style hasn't been promoted in the US as a standard everyday drinking beer yet. Marketing teams can surely find a way to make it seem like an American style to the public, if that's even important. It's so easy to make and so very much more delicious than any Bud or Coors etc. product . I guess it's more expensive to produce than our pale lagers?
I know homebrewers LOVE to bash BMC and lagers. But the fact is it’s the #1 selling beer in the world. There’s a reason these companies are multi-billion dollar enterprises with global presence in every country around the planet. In the case of Budweiser alone, we’re talking value in excess of 600 billion dollars. With a b.

Even in England, bitters and milds compete with lagers. Bitters and milds are seen by the younger generations as “old man beer” - whether that’s fair or not, it is what it is. They get a cloth cap reputation.

In addition to lagers, everybody everywhere is also competing with all the cloudy ipas that look like a glass of orange juice that get top billing now everywhere.

I love bitters and I have several blue ribbons for milds from years gone by. I agree they might sell better here in the US just because its something different. But they haven’t caught on. Again, multi-billion dollar companies do research and marketing and you’d think if there was a market they’d be selling them.

Every now and then I get a craving for them and we have very few available. I can usually find Fullers ESB, Boddingtons in nitro cans, and Sam Smith nut brown if I’m lucky. Some of our local breweries make similar styles sometimes.

But yes folks, this is why we homebrew. I guess its just human nature to always want what we can’t have. I had a guy from the UK tell me how lucky I was that I could buy Schlitz Malt Liquor because thats what he loves and he can’t get it where he lives. How funny is that - that he is in the land of cask ale on handpumps that I want and I’m in the land of 40 oz bottles of malt liquor that he wants?

There is a chain of British themed pubs here called Elephant and Castle that I love. There used to be one in Phila but it closed years ago and the closest one to me now is in DC. There is one authentic pub with handpumps maybe an hour and a half away but its in a small town with no parking and thats too far to drink and drive - which is always a bad idea. They usually have Bluebird bitter.
 
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duncan_disorderly

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I know homebrewers LOVE to bash BMC and lagers. But the fact is it’s the #1 selling beer in the world. There’s a reason these companies are multi-billion dollar enterprises with global presence in every country around the planet. In the case of Budweiser alone, we’re talking value in excess of 600 billion dollars. With a b.

Even in England, bitters and milds compete with lagers. Bitters and milds are seen by the younger generations as “old man beer” - whether that’s fair or not, it is what it is. They get a cloth cap reputation.

In addition to lagers, everybody everywhere is also competing with all the cloudy ipas that look like a glass of orange juice that get top billing now everywhere.

I love bitters and I have several blue ribbons for milds from years gone by. I agree they might sell better here in the US just because its something different. But they haven’t caught on. Again, multi-billion dollar companies do research and marketing and you’d think if there was a market they’d be selling them.

Every now and then I get a craving for them and we have very few available. I can usually find Fullers ESB, Boddingtons in nitro cans, and Sam Smith nut brown if I’m lucky. Some of our local breweries make similar styles sometimes.

But yes folks, this is why we homebrew. I guess its just human nature to always want what we can’t have. I had a guy from the UK tell me how lucky I was that I could buy Schlitz Malt Liquor because thats what he loves and he can’t get it where he lives. How funny is that - that he is in the land of cask ale on handpumps that I want and I’m in the land of 40 oz bottles of malt liquor that he wants?

There is a chain of British themed pubs here called Elephant and Castle that I love. There used to be one in Phila but it closed years ago and the closest one to me now is in DC. There is one authentic pub with handpumps maybe an hour and a half away but its in a small town with no parking and thats too far to drink and drive - which is always a bad idea. They usually have Bluebird bitter.
My view is that there a majority of people eat crap tasteless food all the time and a majority of people drink crap tasteless beer. The reasons are debatable. Cost, lifestyle, marketing, priorities etc.
 

hout17

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My view is that there a majority of people eat crap tasteless food all the time and a majority of people drink crap tasteless beer. The reasons are debatable. Cost, lifestyle, marketing, priorities etc.
I'm going to say it after working a long hard day where you are hot and tired one of the best beers I ever had was an ice cold Budweiser. Not because it was better but it just really hit the spot. I've only had that experience once though and a long time ago lol. I definitely prefer stouts and bitters. IPA's (not orange juice) have grown on me too.
 

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I'm not shy to call fizzy p*ss water fizzy p*ss water generally, but I do think it's a bit harsh to present a dichotomy between ale and lager styles when it comes to fizzy p*ss water. As a predominantly English ale drinker (who enjoys a Guinness served properly) I've had as many, if not more, commercial ales (especially 'craft') I'd call fizzy p*ss water as I have commercial lagers. Unless there are local breweries (brewers) who care, it's a problem. Beer doesn't travel well generally. It's like fresh liquid bread. My top tip for making a great lager, apart from repitching a shed load of fresh healthy yeast: mash high, 68°C 👈 The often cited mash temperatures around 62°C have much more to do with macro ethanol production 😉
 

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I'm going to say it after working a long hard day where you are hot and tired one of the best beers I ever had was an ice cold Budweiser. Not because it was better but it just really hit the spot. I've only had that experience once though and a long time ago lol. I definitely prefer stouts and bitters. IPA's (not orange juice) have grown on me too.
I've earned a number of BBQ awards including a state level championship in ribs. That journey has me convinced that taste buds play a lot less role in our enjoyment of food and drink. Not only do our eyes and nose impact our impression of taste, so do our thoughts, whether it be childhood memories of comfort food or a poetic description of an entree on a menu.

Bud has a place in my heart. I no longer buy 6, 12 or 18 packs of Bud and Bud light, but on a hot day and I am exhausted and dripping in sweat, IMO, there may not be a better beer than a Bud, plunging my hand deep into the ice and water in a cooler, the sound of the cracking open that tab, the cool can touching my lips and then that first cold crisp gulp. As a home brewer, I do hold them with respect with their quality control. Achieving their level of consistency year after year given the variation in ingredient characteristic brewing a style that is unforgiving is quite an achievement.

But enough of Bud, just like Koslch made it into to my annual brew rotation as a deviation from the IPAs, Trappist Ales and English Stouts I brew, I'm looking forward to experimenting with brewing English bitters and hopefully making it on a regular basis.
 
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Northern_Brewer

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I spent 6 months working in London, I have to reevaluate my thoughts on bitters. I like British beers. Sam Smith nut brown ale is one of my favorites and I've brewed many brown ales, porters and stouts. But the brew coming out of the warm tap at the pub nearest the office was "chewy" with a sharp bitter bite. I think it was just the combination of temp, thick mouth feel and that bitterness I wasn't accustom to threw me off. I think I will give the stye enough shot.

It's worth emphasising that cask beer is hugely dependent on the quality of cellarmanship in the pub, and for various reasons the average standard of cask beer in London pubs is some of the worst in the UK. There are some exceptions, and London generally has the numbers to allow high throughput so when it's right it can be great, but one imagines a lot of tourists are put off by drinking vinegar on a Tuesday lunchtime when they will get a so much better experience in a pub that cares on a Friday night.
Sounds like I should give the Muntons gold a try. Next bitter will be with liquid yeast though, if my parcel from UK with the chevallier malt makes it to my house.
Although the Malt Miller are great, folk in the EU may have better luck with www.geterbrewed.com as they can use the Northern Ireland exemptions to act as a wormhole through the Brexit border mess so may be your best bet for getting British stuff into the EU.
Do yourself a favour and use Chevallier on it's own. No MO. It is probably the greatest bitter malt to be, it deserves the whole stage for itself.
Less appropriate though for 1970s Boddies, which was the matter at hand. Boddies though is the perfect example of how the right amount of crystal can be - nothing, northern bitters generally use less crystal than southern ones but tourists tend to only see the Thames Valley versions and assume they're all like that. And then they assume that the colour comes all from crystal and other speciality malts when in reality almost all traditional British brewers add caramel or a touch of black malt to make the beer browner so that they have a consistent product. It's no wonder that US commercial bitters tend to be a bit of a mess that don't bear much resemblance to the real thing, at least on the evidence of what made it across the pond for GBBF this year (advisory, contains handpull porn) :

This year CAMRA had a homebrew competition at GBBF for the first time - not as well-regarded as say Brewcon , but this recipe for the section winner gives you a starting point.

Fuller's have tweeted some pages from their recipe book which I've collected in this thread, which led ESBrewer to what he claims is a good match for ESB. It's worth noting that Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal and that's more than enough for my northern tastebuds.

It gets exponentially more difficult to make great bitter as you go down the ABV scale, but pubs generally don't put on cask beers over 4.5% as they don't get enough turnover except in city centres, so if you're not a regular bitter brewer I would strongly recommend starting at a classic Best strength of 4.3% rather than 4% or lower. My personal taste is overwhelmingly in favour of Goldings and anti-Fuggles, but putting aside that bias, Goldings were traditionally used in the premium beers of Britain and I'd suggest you start with all-Goldings before experimenting with other hops.

The thing about bitter is that it's all about balance - every component makes a contribution, but not overwhelming the other components. That starts with water, see these suggestions from one of the main British brewery suppliers - traditionally British brewers particularly in Yorkshire were obsessed with the hugely mineralised well waters of Burton (up to 1000ppm sulphate) and would load their water with gypsum. That's changing, you're seeing generally less minerals and more of a balance towards chloride, but British brewing liquor is still far more mineralised than USians are used to :

Yeast really matters and is a big part of the difference between different family breweries. The first choice is getting an actual brewery yeast - Brits can usually scruonge some cask dregs from a pub, or harvest from the few bottle-conditioned beers that use a primary yeast such as Fuller's 1845 or St Austell Proper Job. Second choice would be Brewlab in Sunderland who have an extensive collection of the real thing and after various ups and downs are now selling direct again :

I don't know how it works now, but in the past they were happy to take specific requests. Don't embarrass them by asking for eg "the Black Sheep yeast" as that gets into all sorts of trademark problems, but historically if you asked them for "a yeast suitable for a Black Sheep clone" then they would send you yeast labelled "HH". Which is a bit of a coincidence given that Black Sheep got their yeast along with some of their squares from the old Hardy & Hanson brewery....

You will also notice that about half the Brewlab descriptions include some mention of phenolics - phenolic yeast are far more common in the UK than US labs make out. But they tend to be awkward at a homebrew level, usually needing a lot of oxygenation - hence fishtails. WLP037 Manchester is slightly phenolic and meant to be great if you can find it, WLP036 Yorkshire Square is a bit of a handful that can get very clovey if you don't give it enough oxygen. The Ringwoods and Whitbreads from US labs all have their fans, as I say I quite like WLP041 for an unfussy strain that gives a nice drinkable pint, and some of the WLP02x strains are worth a play.

But it's no good having a lovely yeast if you let it clean up after itself too much, see this epic thread on fermentation profiles for British yeasts :

Just as some light reading, folk here will enjoy Jeff Alworth's series of articles on his impressions of British beer "in the wild" in 2019 - it's not all Fuggles and Goldings....

And his earlier paean to cask beer
If we ever wanted to exalt a beer type that requires the most hands fussing over it, a beer resistant to making at large scale, one that can’t really be put in a bottle, one that is as likely to wilt from environmental conditions as freshly-plucked lettuce, it is cask ale. When you’re served a pint at the right temperature, poured properly, that is perfectly fresh and well-handled, it’s a marvel of coordination. There’s a reason Americans picked the bones of British brewing while leaving its cask soul behind: it’s just too hard to make.
 

CaddyWampus

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My latest brew is a mild that I could literally sit and drink all evening. I've been saying this my last couple of beers, but this is definitely the best beer I've ever brewed.

In the span of this year I started wanting to brew nothing but lagers and now I don't want to brew anything but English beers. They just scratch such a specific itch that nothing else will when the mood strikes.

Cheers!
 

BongoYodeler

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My latest brew is a mild that I could literally sit and drink all evening. I've been saying this my last couple of beers, but this is definitely the best beer I've ever brewed.

In the span of this year I started wanting to brew nothing but lagers and now I don't want to brew anything but English beers. They just scratch such a specific itch that nothing else will when the mood strikes.

Cheers!
I kind of felt the same way when I brewed a best bitter a few months ago. I'm going to try to make sure to (almost) always have it on tap now.
 

Miraculix

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It's worth emphasising that cask beer is hugely dependent on the quality of cellarmanship in the pub, and for various reasons the average standard of cask beer in London pubs is some of the worst in the UK. There are some exceptions, and London generally has the numbers to allow high throughput so when it's right it can be great, but one imagines a lot of tourists are put off by drinking vinegar on a Tuesday lunchtime when they will get a so much better experience in a pub that cares on a Friday night.

Although the Malt Miller are great, folk in the EU may have better luck with www.geterbrewed.com as they can use the Northern Ireland exemptions to act as a wormhole through the Brexit border mess so may be your best bet for getting British stuff into the EU.

Less appropriate though for 1970s Boddies, which was the matter at hand. Boddies though is the perfect example of how the right amount of crystal can be - nothing, northern bitters generally use less crystal than southern ones but tourists tend to only see the Thames Valley versions and assume they're all like that. And then they assume that the colour comes all from crystal and other speciality malts when in reality almost all traditional British brewers add caramel or a touch of black malt to make the beer browner so that they have a consistent product. It's no wonder that US commercial bitters tend to be a bit of a mess that don't bear much resemblance to the real thing, at least on the evidence of what made it across the pond for GBBF this year (advisory, contains handpull porn) :

This year CAMRA had a homebrew competition at GBBF for the first time - not as well-regarded as say Brewcon , but this recipe for the section winner gives you a starting point.

Fuller's have tweeted some pages from their recipe book which I've collected in this thread, which led ESBrewer to what he claims is a good match for ESB. It's worth noting that Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal and that's more than enough for my northern tastebuds.

It gets exponentially more difficult to make great bitter as you go down the ABV scale, but pubs generally don't put on cask beers over 4.5% as they don't get enough turnover except in city centres, so if you're not a regular bitter brewer I would strongly recommend starting at a classic Best strength of 4.3% rather than 4% or lower. My personal taste is overwhelmingly in favour of Goldings and anti-Fuggles, but putting aside that bias, Goldings were traditionally used in the premium beers of Britain and I'd suggest you start with all-Goldings before experimenting with other hops.

The thing about bitter is that it's all about balance - every component makes a contribution, but not overwhelming the other components. That starts with water, see these suggestions from one of the main British brewery suppliers - traditionally British brewers particularly in Yorkshire were obsessed with the hugely mineralised well waters of Burton (up to 1000ppm sulphate) and would load their water with gypsum. That's changing, you're seeing generally less minerals and more of a balance towards chloride, but British brewing liquor is still far more mineralised than USians are used to :

Yeast really matters and is a big part of the difference between different family breweries. The first choice is getting an actual brewery yeast - Brits can usually scruonge some cask dregs from a pub, or harvest from the few bottle-conditioned beers that use a primary yeast such as Fuller's 1845 or St Austell Proper Job. Second choice would be Brewlab in Sunderland who have an extensive collection of the real thing and after various ups and downs are now selling direct again :

I don't know how it works now, but in the past they were happy to take specific requests. Don't embarrass them by asking for eg "the Black Sheep yeast" as that gets into all sorts of trademark problems, but historically if you asked them for "a yeast suitable for a Black Sheep clone" then they would send you yeast labelled "HH". Which is a bit of a coincidence given that Black Sheep got their yeast along with some of their squares from the old Hardy & Hanson brewery....

You will also notice that about half the Brewlab descriptions include some mention of phenolics - phenolic yeast are far more common in the UK than US labs make out. But they tend to be awkward at a homebrew level, usually needing a lot of oxygenation - hence fishtails. WLP037 Manchester is slightly phenolic and meant to be great if you can find it, WLP036 Yorkshire Square is a bit of a handful that can get very clovey if you don't give it enough oxygen. The Ringwoods and Whitbreads from US labs all have their fans, as I say I quite like WLP041 for an unfussy strain that gives a nice drinkable pint, and some of the WLP02x strains are worth a play.

But it's no good having a lovely yeast if you let it clean up after itself too much, see this epic thread on fermentation profiles for British yeasts :

Just as some light reading, folk here will enjoy Jeff Alworth's series of articles on his impressions of British beer "in the wild" in 2019 - it's not all Fuggles and Goldings....

And his earlier paean to cask beer
If we ever wanted to exalt a beer type that requires the most hands fussing over it, a beer resistant to making at large scale, one that can’t really be put in a bottle, one that is as likely to wilt from environmental conditions as freshly-plucked lettuce, it is cask ale. When you’re served a pint at the right temperature, poured properly, that is perfectly fresh and well-handled, it’s a marvel of coordination. There’s a reason Americans picked the bones of British brewing while leaving its cask soul behind: it’s just too hard to make.
Lots of great information, thanks. And yes, for Boddington's (only based on what I've read about it, never had one I think), Chevallier would probably be the wrong malt to start with. But otherwise.... It's simply the bestest of the bestestest.

Did I mention that my parcel went through German customs yesterday AND WILL BE DELIVERED TODAY?!

No I did not?

My parcel went through German customs yesterday and will be delivered today!
 

hout17

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Lots of great information, thanks. And yes, for Boddington's (only based on what I've read about it, never had one I think), Chevallier would probably be the wrong malt to start with. But otherwise.... It's simply the bestest of the bestestest.

Did I mention that my parcel went through German customs yesterday AND WILL BE DELIVERED TODAY?!

No I did not?

My parcel went through German customs yesterday and will be delivered today!
Sorry, I didn't mean to stir the pot by mentioning using chevallier in a 71' Boddingtons Recipe lol. When I brew it I'll leave any relation to Boddingtons off of it lol. Enjoy your Chevallier!

Here is my most recent brew of Ron's 71' Boddingtons Recipe using Maris Otter. Came out good as it did last time. The #2 invert gives it the color it needs.

PXL_20221212_205646419_copy_913x1790.jpg
 

Miraculix

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Sorry, I didn't mean to stir the pot by mentioning using chevallier in a 71' Boddingtons Recipe lol. When I brew it I'll leave any relation to Boddingtons off of it lol. Enjoy your Chevallier!

Here is my most recent brew of Ron's 71' Boddingtons Recipe using Maris Otter. Came out good as it did last time. The #2 invert gives it the color it needs.

View attachment 807835
Looks gorgeous. I'd have one! And another one! And another one! And....
 
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