Recipe Review - Bramling Ordinary Bitter

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Bithead

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I've been doing some lower gravity brews this summer and after picking up some Bramling Cross hops with my last hop order I decided to use them in my Ordinary Bitter. When researching using this hop I found little experience in the homebrew community although I did find a few experiences. Several posts mention very upfront and destinct, but not undesirable, flavour/aroma. I wanted to allow the Bramling to show but not in an obnoxious way and also stay within style.

I also found a brewpub, Oliver Breweries, that uses Bramling in their ESB so I emailed the brewer to find out how he uses them. His ESB has won several local awards and can be found in Michael Jackson's book, "Ultimate Beer". Steve Jones was kind enough to respond saying:

"Our regular (English style ESB) is bittered with a little cascade (start of boil), Kent Goldings (20 minutes) and Bramling Cross (40 minutes) and finished entirely with Fuggles." ..."to be honest you can't go wrong with any combination of Goldings & Bramling in your ESB to my mind (i use these two in
a couple of seasonal session bitters that I make). Personally I would split it 50:50 between the two with the Goldings as an early bittering addition and Bramling added half way through the boil and an equal split again for the finishing hop (or any dry hopping)."

I WILL be scheduling a stop at the Pratt Street Ale House on my next trip to Northern Virginia. With Steve's comments in mind I've arrived at this recipe. What do you all think?

Recipe: Bramling Bitter
Style: Standard/Ordinary Bitter

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------

Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Boil Size: 6.28 gal
Estimated OG: 1.039 SG
Estimated Color: 8.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33.4 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
7 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 89.57 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 6.40 %
4.0 oz Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3.20 %
1.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 0.84 %
24.0 g Centennial [5.65 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 19.0 IBUs
14.0 g Bramling Cross [4.70 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 6 7.1 IBUs
14.0 g Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 30.0 Hop 7 7.5 IBUs
7.0 g Bramling Cross [4.70 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
7.0 g Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 0.0 Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [0.13 Yeast 10 -


Mash at 154 F
 

cavemanbrew

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I have an APA that is in pri. for 1-1/2 weeks. I used citra for bittering and 29g bramling @15 min. for flavor, also used wlp005 yeast. This is the first time I have used bramling so I cant tell you much yet, but I will let you know what I think in a couple weeks.
 

GuldTuborg

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I have 4oz of these sitting in the freezer, too, but I've yet to make use of them. They're sometimes called Brambling Cross, if that helps your searching any. The Centennial FWH is an interesting twist. Not that I think it's going to be bad, it's just not a pairing of hops and technique I've used before. Let us know how this turns out.
 
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Bithead

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I have 4oz of these sitting in the freezer, too, but I've yet to make use of them. They're sometimes called Brambling Cross, if that helps your searching any. The Centennial FWH is an interesting twist. Not that I think it's going to be bad, it's just not a pairing of hops and technique I've used before. Let us know how this turns out.
Yea, when I was deliberating about bittering hops I decided to stray from the typical [email protected] I don't have any northern brewer which is a typical English bittering hop so seeing that the BJCP says "US varieties may be used" I started thinking cascade / centennial. I'm not sure about leaving them as FWH though.
 

BeerLogic

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I used them exclusively in an IPA once, and got a funky astringency that I've never had with any other hop. It eventually mellowed out after about six months of aging, but it was practically undrinkable after three weeks bottle conditioning. When it did finally mellow out, I would say the hop flavor was mediocre at best, and not particularly striking. (My favorite hop in general is Motueka, which has a lot of wild strong tropical fruit flavors and a lot of spice, so take that as you will.) I've found other English hops (challenger!) taste much better for bittering and other purposes.
 
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Bithead

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I used them exclusively in an IPA once, and got a funky astringency that I've never had with any other hop. It eventually mellowed out after about six months of aging, but it was practically undrinkable after three weeks bottle conditioning. When it did finally mellow out, I would say the hop flavor was mediocre at best, and not particularly striking. (My favorite hop in general is Motueka, which has a lot of wild strong tropical fruit flavors and a lot of spice, so take that as you will.) I've found other English hops (challenger!) taste much better for bittering and other purposes.
I'm hoping to avoid that sort of result. How'd you use the Bramling in the IPA recipe?
 

BeerLogic

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I think the og was around 1.080. I got half a pound of them cheap and used them all, something like:

1 oz @ 60
1 oz @ 30
2 oz @ 15
4 oz @ 5

That calculates to about 70 IBUs, since they were, I think, about 6% aa. Shouldn't have been astringent with that high of an og. Like I said, it mellowed out eventually. It's possible that they were mislabeled and the aas were much higher. I would go with something more reliable for bittering so as to avoid that possibility and just use them for flavor and aroma. Maybe you'll get something great!
 

GuldTuborg

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Astringency may have come from 6oz of hop matter in the last 15 minutes of your boil. Have you ever gone that heavy with late hopping on any other recipe? I'm assuming they were pellets, too - is that right?
 
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Astringency is used to describe Bramling flavor & aroma and could be part of the black currant flavor which is also described as astringent. I'm hoping to stay away this off flavor.

Thanks everyone for the input.
 
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I'm messing with the hop schedule. I removed FWH and split the 30 minute addition with Bramling and EKGs. Hoping to brew this next weekend.
 
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I brewed this up yesterday. Only had 5.5 lbs Marris Otter so added 2 lbs 2-Row. Also subbed WLP013 for the Wyeast 1968, wish I had gone to other LHBS. Tasted great going into the fermenter.
 
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Bithead

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Bottled this up today. Not as clear as I would like but the flavor is great. The black currant flavor is present, not overly so, and seems to pair well with the chocolate. I think it's going to be a great beer. I'll post tasting notes in a few weeks.
 

fastricky

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My experience with BC hops are they are very dark tasting - my impression was they lended a very woody flavor, almost like the beer was wood aged! But not quite as nice... one man's opinion y'all.
 
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Aroma: Mildly malty and slightly caramel.
Appearance: Amberish light copper color. An aggressive pour yields a slightly off white and lingering quarter inch head. Some lacing.
Flavour: Medium bitterness and slightly fruity.The Bramling currant fllavor is apparent but subtle. Plays well with the bitterness and malt. There is a dryness/astringency to the finish but is not harsh.
Mouthfeel: Light body and low carbonation.
Overal: A pleasant session beer.



 

SwampassJ

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Bumping, I have a few ounces on their way to me and I think I'm going to give them a whirl. Very few actual threads about using them so this is nice to find with a good taste and smell description.
 

GuldTuborg

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Go for it. I've used these hops twice now, after acquiring a bit more. They're interesting, and I like them well enough to want to use them again, though time will tell of they're preferable to other good British hops (northdown, first gold, and phoenix are lesser used ones I also like, though I suppose I'm similarly uncertain about first gold, now that I think about it).

I only used them by themselves once, and I didn't really get currant flavors. I did get a little twiggy/woodyness, and some darker fruit flavor, but if memory serves it was a bit more like juniper, overall, than currant. It was a bit more of a slight pungency than the darkly sweet/tart flavor I get from actual currants. These flavors were all pretty mild, though. I get the feeling BC hops would play nicely paired with some of the more tropical NZ hops.
 
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