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Hoochin'Fool

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Going to attempt an ESB soon, looking for reassurance I'm not getting into the weeds!

water: London profile
OG: 1055
Bairds Maris Otter 90%
Bairds Medium Crystal 75L 10%
Bittered with EKG @60 to 25 ibu, and @5 for another 10 ibu
yeast: S-04
bottle carb to 2.0 vol

Questions:
A pinch ( <= 1% ) of wheat, or flaked barley for foam?
A pinch ( <= 1% ) of a dark roast for more color?
Should I mix up the hops? I've got some Magnum, Willamette, Saaz, Perle...

Thanks!
 
I'm currently drinking a very enjoyable strong bitter. Got another in conditioning.

1.050 40IBU
80% Fawcett Spring Pale
5% C65
5% Torrified Wheat
10% Invert
A bit of black for color
Goldings if I have it, currently drinking one with Saaz @FW, 60, 30
Imperial Pub
125 Ca, 30 Na, balanced Cl:SO4

With MO, I don't think you need anything to punch the maltiness. 10% is way too much crystal without balancing it with sugar.
 
My preference is to stick with the traditional flavors of UK hops in this beer. A pinch (.005%, maybe an Oz or so) of chocolate malt will give you a nice coppery color tweak. 1% of wheat or flaked barley isn't going to accomplish much. I'd go maybe 3-5% flaked barley or torrified wheat if you want to boost the foam viscosity. I'd also back that 75L crystal down a bit from 10% or switch it to 55L.
 
My experience on British Bitter is the yeast is critical to getting the right taste. I've never used S04, but the description sounds like it will be pretty non characteristic. I wasn't happy with my Bitters being what I wanted until I tried WLP002.

I absolutely stopped messing with yeast once I made one with that.
 
When I look at yeast substitution charts, it shows all kinds of yeast can be substituted for US04. All kinds of yeast that would never taste like a British Bitter in my experience. There's no way it tastes like all of those, so to me it seems like it must be pretty generic in flavor, which would turn it from a British Bitter to "a beer with British malts and hops that isn't distinct".
 
Can’t go wrong with MO, British crystal, and EKG. Well, you could go wrong if you put too much crystal in, so I wouldn’t go above 10%, but I don’t know if you need to go below. When you tweak the recipe you may need to cut back on the crystal or add some more bitterness. Depends on your taste.

I’d go with 10% wheat or more if you want to have an effect on foam.

Just to throw a few alternate ingredient ideas out there: Lallemand London (supposedly discontinued but still not hard to find), Simpsons DRC, and Boadicea.

I think of Boadicea as EKG with more farnesene. And I love farnesene.
 
1.055 ist pretty high for a UK ale. This means that the beer will be sweet. Now you throw in ten percent of crystal, we're getting into cloying territory now.

There's been a solid recipe posted above for a strong bitter by @DBhomebrew (there's no such thing as a esb beer style, ESB is a specific beer brewed by Fuller's), I'd copy that of were you. If you want to brew the real ESB, the recipe for that can be found online.

I've made really good experience with "waking up" s04 from dry state to liquid state. Just use 3g of the dry yeast in a two litre starter and when it's done decant the liquid and pitch the slurry.

But it still doesn't come close to imperial pub, which is my favourite UK yeast up until today. It's also supposed to be the Fuller's strain. It is different from w002. Imo better, I know both.
 
For an ESB 1.055 is fine, as is up to 10% medium crystal, but you will want your IBUs up around 40-45 to cut through that. Definitely no need for any roast, but you could add a little wheat if you feel like it. Any traditional English hops are good.

A flavourful yeast is probably the most important thing, and that's the hardest bit. I've grown up dregs from Fullers 1845 that have had wonderful flavour, but I've also had issues with it being a phenolic mess too, and I'd not rate your chances in getting anything good out of bottles that have made it to the USA. People reckon that White Labs 002 is Fullers yeast, but it doesn't taste like Fullers to me (and I have a Fullers pub at the end of my road).

The closest I've had commercially available is Imperial A09 Pub. Just don't under pitch it as it can be quite banana like.
 
The other things I've iterated to on my Bitter recipes are:

1. ABV in the 3.7% - 4.0%. This is less about trying to stick to a style as it is sticking to what my palate likes. In my mind, Bitter is successful when it is light enough you can drink large amount of it, but not so light that it tastes watery.
2. I use mostly MO malt, then play with Caramel malts to get the color I want, balanced by not making it so sweet it's overpowering. But I think the low ABV/OG target helps a high Caramel malt bill not be overpowering in sweetness.
3. 0.5% Amber malt. This gives just a hint of roast that I think turns out well. It sounds tiny, but you can still get a sense of it. At 1% it's too much (for me).
 
I've started and then cancelled an updated reply here at least a dozen times over the last few days. First, thanks for all the input, tho I'm taking most of it "under advisement" as my old "real job" boss used to say. 😂🤣

Anyways, I'm definitely cutting the crystal from 10% to 6%, and while I do have some Briess victory (not biscuit), think this first go 'round will stick to no extra malts besides the MO and crystal. If I decide it needs better foam or color, I'll tweak that next go-round. Also, the missus is already annoyed at how many beergredients I've ordered lately, and I already have the MO, crystal, EKG, and S-04! As for the yeast, I definitely prefer my yeast esters to be subdued, not in-your-face, and I really like S-04 in general, so sticking with that as well, may revisit in a future re-brew as well.

Was planning on brewing this afternoon, but now I'm getting sick (two days after babysitting my niece's 3 little rugrats), so it'll probably be next week sometime.
 
The other things I've iterated to on my Bitter recipes are:

1. ABV in the 3.7% - 4.0%. This is less about trying to stick to a style as it is sticking to what my palate likes. In my mind, Bitter is successful when it is light enough you can drink large amount of it, but not so light that it tastes watery.
2. I use mostly MO malt, then play with Caramel malts to get the color I want, balanced by not making it so sweet it's overpowering. But I think the low ABV/OG target helps a high Caramel malt bill not be overpowering in sweetness.
3. 0.5% Amber malt. This gives just a hint of roast that I think turns out well. It sounds tiny, but you can still get a sense of it. At 1% it's too much (for me).
Good input on bitters, here’s my 2 pennies worth
1. The magic number for ABV in bitters is 4% or some would say 4.2%.
2. The major use for crystal malts is dual it adds sweetness and depending on the type colour.
3. Many bitters do not have any crystal at and use Biscuit, Amber, Chocolate or Black malts for colour.
4. I limit use of crystal malt to around 5% so not too sweet.
5. Wheat malt or Torrefied wheat is a useful addition at 5% +/- 2% for head retention.
6. I generally only use British hops the exceptions being Cascade and Willamette as finishing hops.
7. I generally use Nottingham yeast except for a few Scottish bitters.
 
All-malt beers usually don't have any problem with foam. Edge cases would include a ton of crystal, high ABV, or very low bitterness. And I suppose you could screw it up with willy-nilly protein rests. But other than that, you really shouldn't have to worry.
 
Going to attempt an ESB soon, looking for reassurance I'm not getting into the weeds!
Well you can see how Fuller's do it from their original brewsheets in this thead, which also has a homebrew version that claims to be a good clone of ESB in post #42 :
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/thread...imperials-neipa-from-the-horses-mouth.642756/

You're making the usual mistake of foreign brewers of putting way too much crystal in there, which puts the beer out of balance, and British beers are all about balancing every component of the beer. The colour doesn't come from crystal, but from brewer's caramel or small amount of chocolate/black malt etc. Some British beers don't use crystal at all, on a national scale the average is probably ?4%?, Fuller's use 7.2% of light crystal and for me that's plenty.

Can't go wrong with Goldings for British beers, especially if this is your first time then do it right and don't mess around with other hops.

Going back to the balance thing - carbonation is a vital ingredient, and 2vol is a bit high. I tend to aim for about 1.8 in the bottle.

As others have said, a more characterful yeast like Pub would be preferable, S-04 is OK but a bit dull.
 
Well you can see how Fuller's do it from their original brewsheets in this thead, which also has a homebrew version that claims to be a good clone of ESB in post #42 :
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/thread...imperials-neipa-from-the-horses-mouth.642756/
Thank you! I saw that thread a while ago and then when I couldn't find it again, found this recipe/thread instead, which is what I based the first post on...

You're making the usual mistake of foreign brewers of putting way too much crystal in there, which puts the beer out of balance, and British beers are all about balancing every component of the beer. The colour doesn't come from crystal, but from brewer's caramel or small amount of chocolate/black malt etc. Some British beers don't use crystal at all, on a national scale the average is probably ?4%?, Fuller's use 7.2% of light crystal and for me that's plenty.
Yeah, I am planning on cutting the crystal to 6% (75L), still think that's too much?

Can't go wrong with Goldings for British beers, especially if this is your first time then do it right and don't mess around with other hops.
Going back to the balance thing - carbonation is a vital ingredient, and 2vol is a bit high. I tend to aim for about 1.8 in the bottle.
I'll go with 1.8-ish volumes then, thanks!
 
Yeah, I am planning on cutting the crystal to 6% (75L), still think that's too much?
Depends what your aim is - are you trying to clone the Fuller's beer, are you trying to trying to create a beer of a similar style in the Thames Valley tradition, or are you trying to create something closer to the national average of strong bitters (in which case you'll probably have less crystal and more bitterness).

There's no right answer with this stuff - my personal taste is more northern, so I tend to have more bitterness.
 
My £0.02 for perfect Strong Bitters:

5-5.6% ABV
An FG of 1.012
40-45 IBU
90% Floor Malted Warminster MO
5-7% Crystal (Extra Light or T50)
3% Wheat
0-2% Biscuit or Amber Malt
Notty, Old English or WLP007 fermented coolish
Minimum 10 days after hitting FG in the fermenter before kegging.

EKG is solid but my favourite hop in Strong Bitters is First Gold. Small addition at 5m and the rest from bittering charge. I often do up to 2oz in the whirlpool and same as a DH. I've also had some very good success with Charles Faram experimental hops, like CF184.

This was the last one I brewed. It's a banger.

485a1b7194192cfd0a30fff71ee0301b.jpg
 
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