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First English Bitter - No Crystal?

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Omahawk

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I've been brewing for 5 years and never done an English Pale Ale. I get brewing ideas in my head (which often later turn out to wrong, and I change my opinion), and I'm currently thinking I will prefer a Special Bitter / ESB without any crystal malts. To compensate, I'm thinking a couple of different layers of light roasted malts. Here's what I've got so far:

English Beer Approximately
Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)

Type: All Grain
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.87 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00

Ingredients
10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 88.89 %
1.00 lb Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 8.89 %
0.25 lb Special Roast (50.0 SRM) Grain 2.22 %
2.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 30.3 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1 Pkgs British Ale (Wyeast Labs #1098) Yeast-Ale

Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG
Bitterness: 30.3 IBU
Est Color: 7.3 SRM

EDIT: Mash at 153F. If I use 1968, I'd probably mash at a little lower temp.

I think my final recipe will have a few more IBUs (35 or so) depending on the alphas on the EKGs that my LHBS has. Thoughts from those of you that have brewed a few of these? Would a little (%5) medium crystal make a difference?

Also, any experiences with 1098 compared to 1968?
 

DogStar

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I simply use pale malt and medium crystal in an English bitter. Providing you use a good base malt such as Maris Otter or Golden Promise you'll get all the flavour you need.

I've never used 1098 but I have used wlp007 which I understand is the same strain (whitbread dry). It starts quickly, attenuates well and clears easily leaving you with a good dry clear beer.

If you want the full, well rounded authentic taste try adding some fuggles at 10 minutes. Don't make it too bitter of you'll loose the balance. 30 IBU is bitter enough. Don't drink it too cold. 11 - 13C is about right.

However, I think you'll get a good beer with your recipe. I have used biscuit and didn't notice it in the beer. I've no experience of special roast.
 

BigEd

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I've been brewing for 5 years and never done an English Pale Ale. I get brewing ideas in my head (which often later turn out to wrong, and I change my opinion), and I'm currently thinking I will prefer a Special Bitter / ESB without any crystal malts. To compensate, I'm thinking a couple of different layers of light roasted malts.
What is it your are trying to compensate for? Crystal malt is a very common although not mandatory ingredient in a bitter. If you choose not to use any there's nothing wrong with that although I'm not sure what you are trying to achieve with the additions of biscuit and special roast.

Maybe the use of a little biscuit will provide extra aroma, but I'd cut back to 1/4-1/2 lb. Like DogStar says, a good UK pale malt really doesn't need any help in the flavor department. Special roast is similar in color to medium crystal but is not the same flavor. If you like it then use it but to me it has an odd, slightly burnt flavor.

Personally, I'd stick with tradition here and use a modest quantity of UK medium crystal (5-8%). If you want a beer lighter in color use something in the 10-25L range and if you want a darker brew mix the medium crystal 50/50 with a 75/90L and add an ounce of chocolate malt to deepen the tone. There's a reason why so many bitter recipes use a simple formula of 95% pale and 5% crystal or something close. It works.

Bumping up the IBUs to the mid 30s for a OG 1.052 beer is fine. I shoot for a .75:1 ratio IBU:OG in a bitter. Bear in mind this is for beers with a crystal malt addition for a touch of balancing sweetness. If you leave the recipe as is I'd stick with the lower IBU number.

Can't help you on the yeast choice, not a fan of either one. London Ale (WY1028/WLP-013) is my choice for UK ales.
:mug:
 

jeffjm

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I brew a lot of English pale ales and always use a small amount (5-8%) of an English dark crystal malt. This is one of the few beers where I'll use that much crystal.

A pound of biscuit malt might be a bit much. Although I don't use it personally, I hear it's close to Victory malt, which I use quite a bit, and can get overpoweringly bready in large amounts. I'd go with more like eight ounces in five gallons.
 

Qhrumphf

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You're in the same general realm that I usually use. My Bitters often use about a half pound of Biscuit and about a half pound of Special Roast. But I also use about 8% crystal.

The EKG I've been getting lately have been quite high AA. 7.2% is what I've got in the freezer now. So depending on who you get em from, they may well be higher than what you've got listed.

As far as yeast, I absolutely love Wyeast 1469, and I use it in absolutely every English beer that I brew. It makes a mean Bitter.
 

Qhrumphf

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Also, I've used both but never side by side, but 1098/007 is supposed to be roughly the same character as 1968/002, just much drier and more highly attenuated.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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A pound of biscuit malt might be a bit much.
I simply use pale malt and medium crystal in an English bitter. Providing you use a good base malt such as Maris Otter or Golden Promise you'll get all the flavour you need.
You're in the same general realm that I usually use. My Bitters often use about a half pound of Biscuit and about a half pound of Special Roast. But I also use about 8% crystal.
I'm so used to constructing American Ales with US 2-row, that I tend to add lots of Munich and Victory to add some complexity. I'll cut the Biscuit back.

As far as yeast, I absolutely love Wyeast 1469, and I use it in absolutely every English beer that I brew. It makes a mean Bitter.
Can't help you on the yeast choice, not a fan of either one. London Ale (WY1028/WLP-013) is my choice for UK ales.
:mug:
I'll do some more research on the range of yeast options. It seems like there's two different attenuation ranges - upper 60s or lower 70s.

Quesiton: What temperature is everyone mashing at for these two different attenuation ranges?

If you want the full, well rounded authentic taste try adding some fuggles at 10 minutes.
Would you use the 10 minute fuggles addition in place of the flameout EKG addition?

In general, I'm hearing folks say they use a medium or dark English Crystal. Most of the recipes I've seen use it as well. Perhaps that's telling me something. ;) Here's my adjusted malt bill:

10.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) Grain 88.89 %
0.50 lb Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 4.44 %
0.50 lb English Medium Crystal (60.0 SRM) Grain 4.44 %
0.25 lb Special Roast (50.0 SRM) Grain 2.22 %

Thanks for the input.
 

Qhrumphf

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As far as mash temp, it depends on the beer. I tend to target the 1.010-1.011 range for FG for low strength Bitters and 1.012 to 1.014 for strong Bitters. 1469 is also a fairly low attenuator. For my ESBs, I do maybe 152-153. For an Ordinary Bitter (my house one is about 1.033 to about 1.011) I go up to 157-158. My house ESB is 1.053-1.013. I ferment em at about 68.

Also, there's some wide variation amongst English crystals and maltsters, just like there are with everything else.

My preferences are Crisp "Light" Crystal (45L), Crisp "Dark" Crystal (77L), and Simpsons "Extra Dark" crystal (160L).

I think the adjusted grainbill looks good.
 

MindenMan

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I once made a brew with Canadian Pale Ale malt and Special Roast 50, and the judges were quite sure they were drinking Maris Otter. :) I'm just saying...
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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As far as mash temp, it depends on the beer. I tend to target the 1.010-1.011 range for FG for low strength Bitters and 1.012 to 1.014 for strong Bitters. 1469 is also a fairly low attenuator. For my ESBs, I do maybe 152-153. For an Ordinary Bitter (my house one is about 1.033 to about 1.011) I go up to 157-158. My house ESB is 1.053-1.013. I ferment em at about 68.
Thanks for the input on FG, yeast and mash temp. I'm targeting around a 1.050 SG and 1.014 FG. Still don't know what yeast yet. I'll adjust mash temp accordingly.

My preferences are Crisp "Light" Crystal (45L), Crisp "Dark" Crystal (77L), and Simpsons "Extra Dark" crystal (160L).
Holy cow - I've never seen the 160 L crystal. Must taste like dark toffee or scorched raisons. Sounds perfect for an Old Ale or Barleywine. I'll have to try it sometime.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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I once made a brew with Canadian Pale Ale malt and Special Roast 50, and the judges were quite sure they were drinking Maris Otter. :) I'm just saying...
Sounds vaguely like what I go for with my typical APA - 85% 2row, 10% Munich and 5% Victory. Perhaps I could just cut to the chase a do a Maris Otter grist......
 

Qhrumphf

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Holy cow - I've never seen the 160 L crystal. Must taste like dark toffee or scorched raisons. Sounds perfect for an Old Ale or Barleywine. I'll have to try it sometime.
That's pretty close. I use about 3 ounces in my ESB, and I use about 8 ounces of it in my Dark Mild.
 

RonPopeil

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I always use marris otter. I also always use a decent lovibond crystal. When I drink English bitters I always gravitate to that nice caramel flavor and the balance struck with the bitterness going against it. Some are more bitter and some less, of course, but there always seems to be that interplay.
 
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Omahawk

Omahawk

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Planning to brew this over Labor Day weekend. My LHBS has the following candidate yeasts:

1028 London Ale
1335 British Ale II
1968 London ESB
1098 British
1099 Whitbread
Gigayeast British II

Forgot to check their White Labs stash - I'm sure they have 002 and 007 at a minimum.

From reading up on them, I'll want a decent attenuator if I'm using the dark crystal. Thinking I'll go with WY 1028 or 1335 and a mash temp near 153.
 
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