I need to brew an Ordinary Bitter, recipe review

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An ABV of 3.2% isn’t a bitter in my opinion it’s a mild. I would never go below 3.8% for an Ordinary Bitter but the term isn’t used in the UK. Who is going to buy something called Ordinary.
Agree, if you want a pint of ordinary bitter just ask for a pint of cookin'
I would also say a pint of ordinary bitter drawn from a cask is a wonderful session beer and difficult to beat
 
Just an fyi, and I was surprised to hear this from the horse's mouth, but Coniston's Bluebird Bitter is BU:GU 1.0 (OG = 1.036, IBU = 36). I believe the bottled version of Bluebird is much lower - iirc, OG = 1.042, IBU = 26, BU:GU .62. That same individual indicated 1.0 BU:GU isn't unknown in English bitters - he mentioned Hepworths Sussex Bitter as an example.
Had a couple of pints in the Hepworth Brewery tap the other week. Didn't seem overly bitter or unbalanced.
Very good brewery tour of Hepworths on the get er brewed youtube. Head brewer used to be at the sadly long closed King and Barnes brewery.
 
Had a couple of pints in the Hepworth Brewery tap the other week. Didn't seem overly bitter or unbalanced.
Very good brewery tour of Hepworths on the get er brewed youtube. Head brewer used to be at the sadly long closed King and Barnes brewery.
Thanks for the experience points and for the link!
 
I've had a lot of beer in England over the last 14 years. I don't really ever remember many of them being designated as bitters.
I recall now a British brewer I really respect saying essentially the same thing.

On a general note on reflection I'd like to apologize to @Cheshire Cat and anyone else for whom my posts here have come off pretty arrogant, which I think they ultimately where. Helluva far cry from my reading Graham Wheeler or Roger Protz or other written sources, then opining, when guys like Cheshire and others with direct, long-time experience state what actually is in reality. I love British ales and British brewing traditions as best as I can know them - about 98% of what I brew. But it all pales in comparison to direct, lived experience. So - sorry guys for my "know it all" posts.

My intent really was to suggest might be worthwhile to take a look at sub-1.040 or 4% abv bitters. I've certainly not cracked the code and I myself prefer my everyday bitters to be up at the 1.046 OG range. But until I can get an ale as satisfying as that original taste of Bluebird, I know I've got miles to go before I sleep. Each to their own and happy brewing.
 
But until I can get an ale as satisfying as that original taste of Bluebird, I know I've got miles to go before I sleep. Each to their own and happy brewing.
I've posted this recipe elsewhere in the Recipe Forum but I'll put it here too. Bluebird is lovely stuff although I have only been exposed to the bottled import in the US. My take does bump up the OG from the real stuff but the balance and flavors are pretty good.

Do try brewing this with a 90 minute boil and just two hop additions. I mash this at 67C/153F for an hour.

10 US Gallons
Est OG 1.050, Est IBU 40

15.5 lb (95%) MO Pale malt
.75 lb (5%) Crystal 55L

2 oz Challenger (~7.5% AA) @ 90 min
1 oz Challenger @ 15 min

London Ale Yeast, White Labs WLP-013
 
I've posted this recipe elsewhere in the Recipe Forum but I'll put it here too. Bluebird is lovely stuff although I have only been exposed to the bottled import in the US. My take does bump up the OG from the real stuff but the balance and flavors are pretty good.

Do try brewing this with a 90 minute boil and just two hop additions. I mash this at 67C/153F for an hour.

10 US Gallons
Est OG 1.050, Est IBU 40

15.5 lb (95%) MO Pale malt
.75 lb (5%) Crystal 55L

2 oz Challenger (~7.5% AA) @ 90 min
1 oz Challenger @ 15 min

London Ale Yeast, White Labs WLP-013
Thanks Ed, that's actually pretty close to mine, though I keep to the draft gravity of 1.036. 95% MO, 5% C 55 (mine is Baird's), .76 oz. Challenger at 60, .33 oz Challenger at 30, .60 Challenger at 10 for IBU 36 and BU:GU .998. I did have lower late hopping but overall IBU the same. Just want more Challenger so upped the late hop and adjusted earlier additions to keep IBU's at 36.

I'm doing some yeast trials so have been using Cullercoats, N. English yeast. I actually have a slant of Wards, ostensibly the Bluebird strain, so it will be nice to try it with that again.
 
I recall now a British brewer I really respect saying essentially the same thing.

On a general note on reflection I'd like to apologize to @Cheshire Cat and anyone else for whom my posts here have come off pretty arrogant, which I think they ultimately where. Helluva far cry from my reading Graham Wheeler or Roger Protz or other written sources, then opining, when guys like Cheshire and others with direct, long-time experience state what actually is in reality. I love British ales and British brewing traditions as best as I can know them - about 98% of what I brew. But it all pales in comparison to direct, lived experience. So - sorry guys for my "know it all" posts.

My intent really was to suggest might be worthwhile to take a look at sub-1.040 or 4% abv bitters. I've certainly not cracked the code and I myself prefer my everyday bitters to be up at the 1.046 OG range. But until I can get an ale as satisfying as that original taste of Bluebird, I know I've got miles to go before I sleep. Each to their own and happy brewing.
I've recently brewed a very simple blonde bitter which fits your description. It is so light in colour and alcohol that you can easily have two without being tipsy and so delicious that you actually want at least three.

MO as base with 10% invert no. 1 plus 10% carafoam (probably unnecessary, I wanted to experiment with it). OG 1.038, ibus 30 with the noble hop of your choice, preferably goldings or something else British. German hops also work well, I used a German Perle. Only 60 minute addition plus 15 minute addition.

Mash hochkurz (62c +72c, each 30 minutes) mashout 20 minutes at 77c.

Yeast safale 04, 3 gram in a two liter starter to remove the drying shock. Fermentation around 18-20c.

Man this beer is so good....
 
One of my favorites as well despite only having had the US import in the bottle! I have brewed many attempts but never quite equalled it.
I'd first had the bottle I don't know how long ago, 90's, then lucky enough to have it on draft when we went to England not much longer later. But like you, not even close. Don't suspect I will ever be (am I forgetting - is Coniston's a multi-strain yeast), but if I can get something as low an OG as that that is also as good as that, I'll be a happy brewer.
 
Ah - so many points to address.

But just to get the big one out of the way - Ordinary Bitter is like American football. The locals just call it "football", but to anyone from the civilised world who is looking to classify it among the wider family, it gets called American football. And even the BJCP now call it "Standard/Ordinary Bitter" - standard bitter is the more common phrase in the trade here, but punters always call it just bitter. Young's is an exception - Ordinary in their case was almost a brand name, like Fuller's having ESB.

And we just know what bitter looks like, it doesn't need to be spelled out on a label. Technically Budweiser is a lagerbier, maybe even a Pilsner lagerbier - but in the US it is just "beer". It's sort of like that.

And they are damned difficult to do well, truly one of the hardest styles to brew, in fact I know enough not to have even tried to make one, I'm just not that good a brewer. Whilst I'm not quite as ancient experienced as CC, I do have several decades of drinking bitters of all kinds, mostly on cask in a pub - and before Covid knackered my senses I have judged local stages of the Champion Beer of Britain.

What I would say is that something happens once a bitter gets above about 4.2% and they just work a lot better, there's enough mouthfeel to balance everything else - and balance is everything in these beers, it's about balancing all the ingredients from hops to carbonation to malt to minerals. That's how you get the sessionability, that keeps people in the pub and keeps the tills ringing.

So if people are new to British beers, I always suggest they start with a best in the 4.2-4.5% range, things just taste better there. Outside city centres pubs generally either have either a loose or explicit limit of 4.5% on cask beer as above that it usually doesn't get the turnover you need for cask. And if your best is in that range then 3.8% is a reasonable place for the ordinary to be - you'll find that's where the decent breweries tend to end up, whereas the ones below that are driven more by accountants than beer lovers. The latest vandalism has come from the taxman increasing the ABV of his low strength duty rate to anything below 3.5%. Previously it was less than 2.8% which was so low the big boys knew it wasn't worth chasing. Whereas <3.5% is close enough that it's very tempting to save £millions by nudging their ordinary bitters down from 3.7 or 3.8%, but it's going to be the death of classic bitter as they all taste like pish.

Anyway, if you're stuck with 8A then my tip for impressing the guys at the brew club would be - make it as close to a best as you can. So you definitely want to be up at the 3.8-3.9% end of things (personally I would say 4% is the dividing line between standard and best), mash high, maybe even sneak a little dextrin malt or similar in there for more body. Use the best malt you can, ideally floor-malted, ideally Otter or Promise. Personally I probably wouldn't use sugar - why thin it out when you're fighting for body?

There's a bit of a decision to whether you're going for more of a northern or southern style. Growing up in the Blessed Lands I acquired a taste for beer with less crystal, often around 7% torrefied wheat and more bitterness - but probably around BU:GU 0.85 is my ideal for something in bottle, anything higher is really designed to be served through a sparkler.

Whereas in the Degenerate Wilds you generally find more crystal (Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal in their partigyle, I wouldn't go much more than that) sometimes a bit of maize, and bitterness of 0.7-0.75-ish.

100ppm calcium is an absolute minimum for any British beer, you need it for cask beer to get the yeast to drop out. Play around with Cl:SO4 ratios to see what you like, somewhere around 120:180 is a good starting point but I wouldn't get too hung up on it, it's a very personal thing.

For your first one, the cost of hops is marginal so instead of a more authentic "cheap rubbish from Eastern Europe" just go with the best, EKG. In future you can play with Challenger or First Gold, maybe you will find one of them more to your taste, but just go with the classic for now. Everyone likes Goldings, not everyone like Fuggles. Oh, and vintage variation is a big thing in English hops, far more so than almost any other hopgrowing region.

Another not-quite-authentic cheat is just to be generous with the hops and spread them around, some in the whirlpool, some dry hop.

Yeast - use the most characterful you can, so not Lallemand London! If you're not going the authentic route of harvesting or buying Brewlab then 1469 is probably the best bet of the US lab yeasts, maybe Imperial Pub if you want the Fuller's orange thing (forget WLP002 and 1968). I must admit I have quite a soft spot for WLP041 Pacific Ale - it's not flashy, but it just produces a really drinkable pint.

People tend to underestimate the carbonation of British beers, unless they've been squirted in the face whilst tapping a cask! And you seem to lose a bit in bottle, for me targeting about 1.7-1.8vol is about right - but you don't want to overcarbonate, it's all part of the balance. And of course don't serve too cold, it wants to be cellar temperature, somewhere around 50-55F. And do give it a bit of time to mature, it takes time for everything to knit together.
 
I'd first had the bottle I don't know how long ago, 90's, then lucky enough to have it on draft when we went to England not much longer later. But like you, not even close. Don't suspect I will ever be (am I forgetting - is Coniston's a multi-strain yeast), but if I can get something as low an OG as that that is also as good as that, I'll be a happy brewer.
I share your goals completely. And I am really struggling at the moment without a quality source for Challenger; In fact I am about to plant some to help with that problem. Regarding the yeast, I have not really ever found an answer to that question. But getting back on topic, to me the style is a great test of a brewer, and it is incredibly rewarding when it all comes together. And the suggestions here are all good, the “A team” is on the thread.
 
I will second Bongo's post - very much appreciate the substantial information, @Northern_Brewer . I'm going to sit with this one for a long while.

I will say - the "Bluebird" I brewed is "OK." It will pass. But I'd say not exactly an "I'll have another" and I'm putting the breaks on further "standard bitter" exploration for the time being. I'm returning to a best I enjoy a lot. Cask, and a sparkler. Shooting for 1.3 vCO2. Ca 128.5, 42 Mg, 49 Na, 304 SO4, 185 Cl, 25 alkalinity (my tap treated with H2SO4 and salts).

best bitter no dry.jpg


Northern, my "typical" bitter mash is 150 F x 90 minutes - unless it's in the low OG range, in which case I'll take it up to as high as 154. Also as you can see, this bitter is 82% MO, 5% torry wheat, 3% crystal, and 10% invert sugar. When you talked about avoiding sugar and mashing higher/using some dextrin malt, were you talking of a lower gravity bitter, or is this something you advocate for moderate-OG bitters in general?
 
I share your goals completely. And I am really struggling at the moment without a quality source for Challenger; In fact I am about to plant some to help with that problem. Regarding the yeast, I have not really ever found an answer to that question. But getting back on topic, to me the style is a great test of a brewer, and it is incredibly rewarding when it all comes together. And the suggestions here are all good, the “A team” is on the thread.
I got 1# Challenger from Northwest Hop Farms. Some bumps from them in terms of shipping but I'm going to try them again. I also just bought a pound from Michigan Hop Alliance. So far, so really good.

Good luck on your quest, too, Early. Would love to hear how things turn out.
 
And they are damned difficult to do well, truly one of the hardest styles to brew, in fact I know enough not to have even tried to make one, I'm just not that good a brewer.

- and balance is everything in these beers, it's about balancing all the ingredients from hops to carbonation to malt to minerals. That's how you get the sessionability, that keeps people in the pub and keeps the tills ringing.
I suspect you are selling yourself short in regards to brewing talent. Cannot agree more about the elusive "balance" that is one of the main attributes of these ales. I love the mellow but rich flavor of good UK malt with the support and accent of just the right amount of hops. I'm an advocate of keeping it simple. There's no need for a laundry list of ingredients. Everything in the grist bill should be there for a reason and nothing should be there if it isn't needed.

I have brewed bitters with additional ingredients like torrified wheat, maize, sugar and/or syrups, and multiple crystal malts. However, I always come back to an outline similar to my Bluebird homage with 95% pale malt and 5% crystal. That foundation remains my favorite.
 
Ah - so many points to address.

But just to get the big one out of the way - Ordinary Bitter is like American football. The locals just call it "football", but to anyone from the civilised world who is looking to classify it among the wider family, it gets called American football. And even the BJCP now call it "Standard/Ordinary Bitter" - standard bitter is the more common phrase in the trade here, but punters always call it just bitter. Young's is an exception - Ordinary in their case was almost a brand name, like Fuller's having ESB.

And we just know what bitter looks like, it doesn't need to be spelled out on a label. Technically Budweiser is a lagerbier, maybe even a Pilsner lagerbier - but in the US it is just "beer". It's sort of like that.

And they are damned difficult to do well, truly one of the hardest styles to brew, in fact I know enough not to have even tried to make one, I'm just not that good a brewer. Whilst I'm not quite as ancient experienced as CC, I do have several decades of drinking bitters of all kinds, mostly on cask in a pub - and before Covid knackered my senses I have judged local stages of the Champion Beer of Britain.

What I would say is that something happens once a bitter gets above about 4.2% and they just work a lot better, there's enough mouthfeel to balance everything else - and balance is everything in these beers, it's about balancing all the ingredients from hops to carbonation to malt to minerals. That's how you get the sessionability, that keeps people in the pub and keeps the tills ringing.

So if people are new to British beers, I always suggest they start with a best in the 4.2-4.5% range, things just taste better there. Outside city centres pubs generally either have either a loose or explicit limit of 4.5% on cask beer as above that it usually doesn't get the turnover you need for cask. And if your best is in that range then 3.8% is a reasonable place for the ordinary to be - you'll find that's where the decent breweries tend to end up, whereas the ones below that are driven more by accountants than beer lovers. The latest vandalism has come from the taxman increasing the ABV of his low strength duty rate to anything below 3.5%. Previously it was less than 2.8% which was so low the big boys knew it wasn't worth chasing. Whereas <3.5% is close enough that it's very tempting to save £millions by nudging their ordinary bitters down from 3.7 or 3.8%, but it's going to be the death of classic bitter as they all taste like pish.

Anyway, if you're stuck with 8A then my tip for impressing the guys at the brew club would be - make it as close to a best as you can. So you definitely want to be up at the 3.8-3.9% end of things (personally I would say 4% is the dividing line between standard and best), mash high, maybe even sneak a little dextrin malt or similar in there for more body. Use the best malt you can, ideally floor-malted, ideally Otter or Promise. Personally I probably wouldn't use sugar - why thin it out when you're fighting for body?

There's a bit of a decision to whether you're going for more of a northern or southern style. Growing up in the Blessed Lands I acquired a taste for beer with less crystal, often around 7% torrefied wheat and more bitterness - but probably around BU:GU 0.85 is my ideal for something in bottle, anything higher is really designed to be served through a sparkler.

Whereas in the Degenerate Wilds you generally find more crystal (Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal in their partigyle, I wouldn't go much more than that) sometimes a bit of maize, and bitterness of 0.7-0.75-ish.

100ppm calcium is an absolute minimum for any British beer, you need it for cask beer to get the yeast to drop out. Play around with Cl:SO4 ratios to see what you like, somewhere around 120:180 is a good starting point but I wouldn't get too hung up on it, it's a very personal thing.

For your first one, the cost of hops is marginal so instead of a more authentic "cheap rubbish from Eastern Europe" just go with the best, EKG. In future you can play with Challenger or First Gold, maybe you will find one of them more to your taste, but just go with the classic for now. Everyone likes Goldings, not everyone like Fuggles. Oh, and vintage variation is a big thing in English hops, far more so than almost any other hopgrowing region.

Another not-quite-authentic cheat is just to be generous with the hops and spread them around, some in the whirlpool, some dry hop.

Yeast - use the most characterful you can, so not Lallemand London! If you're not going the authentic route of harvesting or buying Brewlab then 1469 is probably the best bet of the US lab yeasts, maybe Imperial Pub if you want the Fuller's orange thing (forget WLP002 and 1968). I must admit I have quite a soft spot for WLP041 Pacific Ale - it's not flashy, but it just produces a really drinkable pint.

People tend to underestimate the carbonation of British beers, unless they've been squirted in the face whilst tapping a cask! And you seem to lose a bit in bottle, for me targeting about 1.7-1.8vol is about right - but you don't want to overcarbonate, it's all part of the balance. And of course don't serve too cold, it wants to be cellar temperature, somewhere around 50-55F. And do give it a bit of time to mature, it takes time for everything to knit together.
Great post NB well done.
 
Ah - so many points to address.

But just to get the big one out of the way - Ordinary Bitter is like American football. The locals just call it "football", but to anyone from the civilised world who is looking to classify it among the wider family, it gets called American football. And even the BJCP now call it "Standard/Ordinary Bitter" - standard bitter is the more common phrase in the trade here, but punters always call it just bitter. Young's is an exception - Ordinary in their case was almost a brand name, like Fuller's having ESB.

And we just know what bitter looks like, it doesn't need to be spelled out on a label. Technically Budweiser is a lagerbier, maybe even a Pilsner lagerbier - but in the US it is just "beer". It's sort of like that.

And they are damned difficult to do well, truly one of the hardest styles to brew, in fact I know enough not to have even tried to make one, I'm just not that good a brewer. Whilst I'm not quite as ancient experienced as CC, I do have several decades of drinking bitters of all kinds, mostly on cask in a pub - and before Covid knackered my senses I have judged local stages of the Champion Beer of Britain.

What I would say is that something happens once a bitter gets above about 4.2% and they just work a lot better, there's enough mouthfeel to balance everything else - and balance is everything in these beers, it's about balancing all the ingredients from hops to carbonation to malt to minerals. That's how you get the sessionability, that keeps people in the pub and keeps the tills ringing.

So if people are new to British beers, I always suggest they start with a best in the 4.2-4.5% range, things just taste better there. Outside city centres pubs generally either have either a loose or explicit limit of 4.5% on cask beer as above that it usually doesn't get the turnover you need for cask. And if your best is in that range then 3.8% is a reasonable place for the ordinary to be - you'll find that's where the decent breweries tend to end up, whereas the ones below that are driven more by accountants than beer lovers. The latest vandalism has come from the taxman increasing the ABV of his low strength duty rate to anything below 3.5%. Previously it was less than 2.8% which was so low the big boys knew it wasn't worth chasing. Whereas <3.5% is close enough that it's very tempting to save £millions by nudging their ordinary bitters down from 3.7 or 3.8%, but it's going to be the death of classic bitter as they all taste like pish.

Anyway, if you're stuck with 8A then my tip for impressing the guys at the brew club would be - make it as close to a best as you can. So you definitely want to be up at the 3.8-3.9% end of things (personally I would say 4% is the dividing line between standard and best), mash high, maybe even sneak a little dextrin malt or similar in there for more body. Use the best malt you can, ideally floor-malted, ideally Otter or Promise. Personally I probably wouldn't use sugar - why thin it out when you're fighting for body?

There's a bit of a decision to whether you're going for more of a northern or southern style. Growing up in the Blessed Lands I acquired a taste for beer with less crystal, often around 7% torrefied wheat and more bitterness - but probably around BU:GU 0.85 is my ideal for something in bottle, anything higher is really designed to be served through a sparkler.

Whereas in the Degenerate Wilds you generally find more crystal (Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal in their partigyle, I wouldn't go much more than that) sometimes a bit of maize, and bitterness of 0.7-0.75-ish.

100ppm calcium is an absolute minimum for any British beer, you need it for cask beer to get the yeast to drop out. Play around with Cl:SO4 ratios to see what you like, somewhere around 120:180 is a good starting point but I wouldn't get too hung up on it, it's a very personal thing.

For your first one, the cost of hops is marginal so instead of a more authentic "cheap rubbish from Eastern Europe" just go with the best, EKG. In future you can play with Challenger or First Gold, maybe you will find one of them more to your taste, but just go with the classic for now. Everyone likes Goldings, not everyone like Fuggles. Oh, and vintage variation is a big thing in English hops, far more so than almost any other hopgrowing region.

Another not-quite-authentic cheat is just to be generous with the hops and spread them around, some in the whirlpool, some dry hop.

Yeast - use the most characterful you can, so not Lallemand London! If you're not going the authentic route of harvesting or buying Brewlab then 1469 is probably the best bet of the US lab yeasts, maybe Imperial Pub if you want the Fuller's orange thing (forget WLP002 and 1968). I must admit I have quite a soft spot for WLP041 Pacific Ale - it's not flashy, but it just produces a really drinkable pint.

People tend to underestimate the carbonation of British beers, unless they've been squirted in the face whilst tapping a cask! And you seem to lose a bit in bottle, for me targeting about 1.7-1.8vol is about right - but you don't want to overcarbonate, it's all part of the balance. And of course don't serve too cold, it wants to be cellar temperature, somewhere around 50-55F. And do give it a bit of time to mature, it takes time for everything to knit together.
Thanks for the great summary.

I'd really like to know your opinion about turning dry yeast into liquid yeast and its benefits.

As posted earlier in this thread, I've brewed a bitter with 3g of s04, that I multiplied in a 2l starter. So I basically made sure that the majority of the pitch was not from the dried generation of the yeast.

From my limited point of view, this technique improved the yeast. The resulting beer tastes like a great bitter. Clean but still English. I don't know if I would have had the same beer without this "reawakening" of the yeast.

Have you tried this? What are your thoughts on this?
 
Northern, my "typical" bitter mash is 150 F x 90 minutes - unless it's in the low OG range, in which case I'll take it up to as high as 154. Also as you can see, this bitter is 82% MO, 5% torry wheat, 3% crystal, and 10% invert sugar. When you talked about avoiding sugar and mashing higher/using some dextrin malt, were you talking of a lower gravity bitter, or is this something you advocate for moderate-OG bitters in general?
As I say, something seems to happen around 4.2% where the alcohol takes over the role of supplying body, so while it never hurts to do everything one can to maximise body, I was mainly thinking of <4%.

But the task at hand is to impress the brew club with an 8A, so we need all the tricks. So I'd probably go somewhat southern - heavier on the crystal, which will also play to US ideas of what bitter is. Although it's not the syrupy mess that seems to be the understanding there - in particular the one way you don't get body is through low attenuation. Bitter is made with house yeasts, and historically they were multistrains that yes, included Windsor-like low attenuators for flavour, but mixed with Notty-style high attenuators for brewing performance.

So 75-80% attenuation is pretty normal, you have 2006 Young's Ordinary at 82%, and northerners like Boddies and Tetley up over 90%. Again that dryness helps sessionability.
I suspect you are selling yourself short in regards to brewing talent. Cannot agree more about the elusive "balance" that is one of the main attributes of these ales. I love the mellow but rich flavor of good UK malt with the support and accent of just the right amount of hops. I'm an advocate of keeping it simple. There's no need for a laundry list of ingredients. Everything in the grist bill should be there for a reason and nothing should be there if it isn't needed.
You're kind, but to be honest it's also - why make something difficult when I prefer drinking around the 4.2-4.4% mark? But again I've never really tried to make a brown bitter as I grew up on Boddies so I'm good with SMASHes. Give me floor-malted Otter/Promise at that strength with generous amounts of EKG and I'm happy bunny.
+1 on simplicity, but sometimes these things can benefit from a smidge of chocolate or amber or something.
I'd really like to know your opinion about turning dry yeast into liquid yeast and its benefits.

Have you tried this? What are your thoughts on this?
It's a known thing that drying suppresses esters in the first generation, but 've never tried repitching dry yeast as I have more yeast than brewing time as it is!
 
As I say, something seems to happen around 4.2% where the alcohol takes over the role of supplying body, so while it never hurts to do everything one can to maximise body, I was mainly thinking of <4%.

But the task at hand is to impress the brew club with an 8A, so we need all the tricks. So I'd probably go somewhat southern - heavier on the crystal, which will also play to US ideas of what bitter is. Although it's not the syrupy mess that seems to be the understanding there - in particular the one way you don't get body is through low attenuation. Bitter is made with house yeasts, and historically they were multistrains that yes, included Windsor-like low attenuators for flavour, but mixed with Notty-style high attenuators for brewing performance.

So 75-80% attenuation is pretty normal, you have 2006 Young's Ordinary at 82%, and northerners like Boddies and Tetley up over 90%. Again that dryness helps sessionability.

You're kind, but to be honest it's also - why make something difficult when I prefer drinking around the 4.2-4.4% mark? But again I've never really tried to make a brown bitter as I grew up on Boddies so I'm good with SMASHes. Give me floor-malted Otter/Promise at that strength with generous amounts of EKG and I'm happy bunny.
+1 on simplicity, but sometimes these things can benefit from a smidge of chocolate or amber or something.

It's a known thing that drying suppresses esters in the first generation, but 've never tried repitching dry yeast as I have more yeast than brewing time as it is!
I think it is not just about the esters. It has now more flavour but it's also somehow cleaner in taste, if that makes sense. It just has this thing which makes you want to have another sip directly after the first one. I've never had this with 100% dry yeast beers, but I've had this with liquid strains.

Maybe pitch rate and the fact that the yeast was already active when pitching also play a role here.

I will continue to make big starters with small amounts of dry yeast from here on.
 
Well, I have a whole thing with hops. The hops we’re buying and using now are last year‘s harvest, right? Harvested when, packaged when, shipped how, stored how?

Even if they’re 6 months in the package they’ve most likely lost some. So when you’re getting hops that say 8%, are they really still 8%? And when your software is figuring 30 IBUs is it really 30 IBUs?

Not to mention that all the software packages have several hop utilization models. I think most of us use Tinseth. But short of sending our beers out for testing nobody really knows. It’s all a guess at best.
I use Brewfather and one of the tools is the hop calculation for age : https://web.brewfather.app/tabs/tools/hop-freshness
Makes life easier ;)
 
Finally, after a bunch of unforeseen delays, brewed this today. Made a couple of minor tweaks to the recipe, but kept things fairly simple. Hit all my Beersmith estimated numbers dead on. Post boil hydro sample looks beautiful.

View attachment 850755
Beautiful wort, congratulations on hitting your targets and getting this quality out man!
 
... People tend to underestimate the carbonation of British beers, unless they've been squirted in the face whilst tapping a cask! ...
You of all people know that wasn't exactly accurate! Getting squirted in the face hasn't much to do with "carbonation", more a case of treating the mallet as if it was going to spontaneously detonate if it touched anything, or the pillock responsible for "venting" the barrel hadn't done the job properly (at all?). At least you didn't say it should be carbonated to 1.7-1.8 volumes ... WHAT! .... ah, that was bottles: Better make that clear, it reads as if you meant cask.

~~~~~~~~~

"Interesting" discussions about what is a UK "bitter" and "mild". A subject I'd stumbled on not long ago. Wadworth's, a southern England brewer, used to brew a "XXXX". An X-ale, which followers of Ron Pattinson will know as a "mild ale", although with four Xs you'd expect a bit more (a Stock Ale perhaps, but this Wadworth one wasn't much stronger than their more lowly X-Ales). As WW1 caused the strength of beers to decline, Wadworth started producing another XXXX which kept up its strength. Later, the guys at Wadworth decided they couldn't have two XXXXs, so it was renamed "6X".

Later still, 6X was sold as Wadworth's prime bitter! As it still is today (just celebrated its centenary).

Now how many other British mild ales transformed into "bitters" in the same way? Certainly, parts of Britain have fairly light hopping, and some areas have high hop amounts (e.g. Yorkshire). "6X" was/is only 22-24IBU. Warning: Low hopping rates isn't a defining feature of "Mild Ale", but WW1 ravaged hop rates just a certainly as alcohol strength. And recovery of those higher rates didn't happen much to "Mild Ales" ("X-ales" as was).
 
Yeah, so then I guess I'm not entirely sure just what I brewed after reading all the discussion in this thread. Since I've had very little experience drinking British milds or bitters I'll never have to worry about being called as an expert witness ;) . Hopefully I'll have brewed something that I enjoy drinking, which, in the end, is what's most important to me.

BTW, here's the recipe I ended up going with...

Screenshot from 2024-06-14 11-09-13.jpg


OG: 1.040
IBU: 29.4
SRM: 9.9
Est. FG: 3.7%
IBU/SG: 0.743
Sulfate to Chloride ratio: 1.6

I'll update with my impressions in a few weeks.
 
Yeah, so then I guess I'm not entirely sure just what I brewed after reading all the discussion in this thread. Since I've had very little experience drinking British milds or bitters I'll never have to worry about being called as an expert witness ;) . Hopefully I'll have brewed something that I enjoy drinking, which, in the end, is what's most important to me.

BTW, here's the recipe I ended up going with...

View attachment 850789

OG: 1.040
IBU: 29.4
SRM: 9.9
Est. FG: 3.7%
IBU/SG: 0.743
Sulfate to Chloride ratio: 1.6

I'll update with my impressions in a few weeks.
Don't worry about it and enjoy your beer as you said. There's a lot of history with the British mild, bitter, IPA lol and never ending debate.

I do recommend if you get a chance to read some of Ron Pattinson's books and/or his shut up about Barclay Perkins blog. @patto1ro

There is also Graham Wheeler literature as well.

Edit: If you drink it as soon as it's ready let's call it a mild or a mild bitter. If you let it age for a while then we'll let's call it a bitter lol or a pale ale or some combination :bigmug:.

There is a TON of gray area in my opinion.
 
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Get your calcium up to 100-150. Some torrified wheat is nice. 10% invert, or even Turbinado for lazy's sake.
I'm supporting this.
5% or so of wheat: flaked, torrified, malted, whatever, to help with the head is a good idea.
More calcium is good.
30 ibu will be balanced towards bitterness but would be within style.
Lose the roast malt and chuck in 10% brown sugar.
Too much crystal malt for my taste. 2% is more than enough.
A small amount of EKG dry hop, something like ½g/litre, works wonders.
Mash at 69 celcius.
 
There's no point in the debate about what constitutes a light Ale, bitter, mild, PA, IPA. The distinction is within the range the brewer puts on sale.
For example, a brewer might have had an existing strong beer called Pale Ale and might see a market for a lighter beer. They would keep the PA because people know it and sell a weaker beer called IPA. There were quite a few watery IPAs.
It's perfectly common that one brewer would have a light bitter stronger than another's best.
There were some milds that were indistinguishable from bitters to look at and might have been stronger and hoppier than a beer marketed as bitter from a different brewer but would have made sense within the range.
 
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Two things I've learned by reading Pattinson:

1) British beer styles (the actual beers and the names applied) morphed through time.

2) As a general rule, British brewers cared not one wit about defined styles.

10% brown sugar

I believe "brown sugar" means two different things on either side of the Atlantic. Here, brown sugar typically refers to refined white sugar from cane or beet with molasses added. Lots of processing. Your brown sugar is less refined cane sugar such as turbinado, demerara, muscovado, etc?
 
Yeah, so then I guess I'm not entirely sure just what I brewed after reading all the discussion in this thread. Since I've had very little experience drinking British milds or bitters I'll never have to worry about being called as an expert witness ;) . Hopefully I'll have brewed something that I enjoy drinking, which, in the end, is what's most important to me.

BTW, here's the recipe I ended up going with...

Screenshot from 2024-06-14 11-09-13.jpg


OG: 1.040
IBU: 29.4
SRM: 9.9
Est. FG: 3.7%
IBU/SG: 0.743
Sulfate to Chloride ratio: 1.6

I'll update with my impressions in a few weeks.

Don't worry about it and enjoy your beer as you said. There's a lot of history with the British mild, bitter, IPA lol and never ending debate. ...
He (@BongoYodeler) does sound a bit worried about it? Can't think why, it looks a fine recipe. Could get some "negative" comment about the amount of crystal malt, but I'm fine with lots. And I don't mind Fuggles either, which some believe they don't like? Probably the same folk who insist you don't get any flavour from the long boil hops, only bitterness (eh? ... 'naanas). Fairly moderate hopping, which I prefer (less than 29.3 IBUs if you allow for some aging too).

If anyone says they wouldn't like it, can I have their share?


"IPA" gets a mention: That stuff was really rubbish in 1970's UK. Usually bottled, weak as weak could be, extra fizzy, fit only for kiddies, not for us grownups (mid-teens in mid-1970s 🤨). Spoils it for us oldies now, with the "IPA" name resurrected and connected with some "all right" beers ... just can't shake off the expectation it's going to be p***.
 
Edit: If you drink it as soon as it's ready let's call it a mild or a mild bitter. If you let it age for a while then we'll let's call it a bitter lol or a pale ale or some combination :bigmug:.
You jest? But it won't be far from the truth. Bit of gravy browning if you want to be sure people see it as "Mild".

There is a TON of gray area in my opinion.
Now you are jesting! There will be NO gray hairs! All us gray haired oldies stopped drinking it ages ago (many lost all their hair before it could drop in the beer anyway).
 
He (@BongoYodeler) does sound a bit worried about it? Can't think why, it looks a fine recipe. Could get some "negative" comment about the amount of crystal malt, but I'm fine with lots. And I don't mind Fuggles either, which some believe they don't like? Probably the same folk who insist you don't get any flavour from the long boil hops, only bitterness (eh? ... 'naanas). Fairly moderate hopping, which I prefer (less than 29.3 IBUs if you allow for some aging too).

If anyone says they wouldn't like it, can I have their share?


"IPA" gets a mention: That stuff was really rubbish in 1970's UK. Usually bottled, weak as weak could be, extra fizzy, fit only for kiddies, not for us grownups (mid-teens in mid-1970s 🤨). Spoils it for us oldies now, with the "IPA" name resurrected and connected with some "all right" beers ... just can't shake off the expectation it's going to be p***.
Hi @Peebee I'm not "worried" about the beer, I hope I didn't come off that way. Just mostly that I am a bit miffed at the gray (grey) area @hout17 and others refer to that surrounds this style, and the various styles close to it. In the end I'm fairly certain I'll like it, and extremely certain I'll drink it, as will the folks I serve it to. Will it approach something that can be found and enjoyed in British pubs? Well, probably not, but mine certainly won't be served to anyone who would know the difference anyway. :D
 
He (@BongoYodeler) does sound a bit worried about it? Can't think why, it looks a fine recipe. Could get some "negative" comment about the amount of crystal malt, but I'm fine with lots. And I don't mind Fuggles either, which some believe they don't like? Probably the same folk who insist you don't get any flavour from the long boil hops, only bitterness (eh? ... 'naanas). Fairly moderate hopping, which I prefer (less than 29.3 IBUs if you allow for some aging too).

If anyone says they wouldn't like it, can I have their share?


"IPA" gets a mention: That stuff was really rubbish in 1970's UK. Usually bottled, weak as weak could be, extra fizzy, fit only for kiddies, not for us grownups (mid-teens in mid-1970s 🤨). Spoils it for us oldies now, with the "IPA" name resurrected and connected with some "all right" beers ... just can't shake off the expectation it's going to be p***.
I agree the recipe looks great.

It's incredible how the definition of an IPA has changed for a couple centuries.Some of those 19th century british recipes don't mess around with the hops or ABV even comparing them to let's say a current American Double IPA.


You jest? But it won't be far from the truth. Bit of gravy browning if you want to be sure people see it as "Mild".


Now you are jesting! There will be NO gray hairs! All us gray haired oldies stopped drinking it ages ago (many lost all their hair before it could drop in the beer anyway).
It is definitely a British ale to be sure! I've got plenty of gray hairs to cover it for now lol.
 
Two things I've learned by reading Pattinson:

1) British beer styles (the actual beers and the names applied) morphed through time.

2) As a general rule, British brewers cared not one wit about defined styles.



I believe "brown sugar" means two different things on either side of the Atlantic. Here, brown sugar typically refers to refined white sugar from cane or beet with molasses added. Lots of processing. Your brown sugar is less refined cane sugar such as turbinado, demerara, muscovado, etc?
Yes. Never seen turbinado. Muscavado/demerara is less refined sugar. White sugar with molasses added, called (unsurprisingly) light brown, dark brown sugar also exists. Not sure there's much of a functional difference as far as brewing is concerned but I use muscavado. I imagine the kind with molasses added would be a more consistent product.
 
Yes. Never seen turbinado. Muscavado/demerara is less refined sugar. White sugar with molasses added, called (unsurprisingly) light brown, dark brown sugar also exists. Not sure there's much of a functional difference as far as brewing is concerned but I use muscavado. I imagine the kind with molasses added would be a more consistent product.
I never thought to use piloncillo until coming across a British brewer's Russian Imperial Stout adapted from Ron Pattinson. It is an incredible sugar, and at 3 months in secondary, this RIS is is extrarordinary.

I use turbinado extensively - in fact it's what I use typically to make inverts. However I would like to try another method (blending in muscovado, according to Graham Wheeler's suggestions, themselves based on Ragus, I believe - this, too, I got from a community of British brewers). Just a few examples of inverts using turbinado.

invert 1.jpg
invert 2 11-25.jpg


invert 4.jpg
 
Oh, oh. Descending into another "sugar" debate. Better chuck my bit in early:

Turbinado appears to be like demerara, largish cuboid crystals, but different colour? I couldn't work with demerara because it's so variable, the stuff I was using was quite strongly flavoured but light in colour. Go very far down that route and arguments will begin, because people aren't comparing like with like. Muscovado sugar seemed the best bet (similar around the world). What @Drinking Sensibly was saying:

Muscavado/demerara is less refined sugar. White sugar with molasses added, called (unsurprisingly) light brown, dark brown sugar also exists. Not sure there's much of a functional difference as far as brewing is concerned but I use muscavado. I imagine the kind with molasses added would be a more consistent product.

... seems right. Is sticking to the "most ethical (ish)" best policy or going for consistency (in that quote above: "I imagine the kind with molasses added would be a more consistent product"). After all, that's what Ragus do with their emulations of 19th C. "Invert Syrup" (i.e. flavour highly refined inverted syrup with a molasses - just go to their Website and they show you how it's done!).

And we're entering the realm of "Invert Syrups/Sugars"! Yikies, help us! I make a speciality of annoying people about this. Most people refer to the 19th C. "brewing products" when talking about this on brewing forums. Then descent into instructions to boil refined sugar syrup for hours to caramelise the colour into it. It never used to happen back then! There was no such thing as "refined sugar", the Invert Syrups" were a product from attempting to refine sugar, and they were most certainly not intentionally caramelised. But you can see the attraction behind "caramelising sugar" ... it makes much tastier additions to beer! Dozens of caramelised sugars (anonymous seemingly) for brewing appeared in the early 20th C. Then there's the quagmire of early 20th C. Belgian brewing sugars.

@Colindo, who has done loads on caramelised sugars for beer, identified some good looking European (Dutch) caramel syrups (just sugar and water) but shipping was prohibitive to the UK, dread to think what it's like to USA. There's a Jamaican product "Tru Jamacan - Burnt Sugar". More widely available but has E150C (Ammonia Caramel) for some reason. These are "burnt sugar" type caramels (E150A), used mainly for colour in beers but add flavour too (E150C adds nothing but colour) ... very useful for emulating early 20th C. London Stouts and Porters, etc. (maybe even later ones like Sam Smith's "Imperial" Stout, an excellent British Stout example. which clearly tastes of caramel). Some of the lighter coloured "Dutch" caramels (still just sugar and water) might be fine additions to bitter.

I wish I could come across any accessible caramel syrups (just sugar and water) too.
 
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