American Bitter

Bitter American

I thoroughly enjoy English style bitters.  Malty/toasty flavors combined with lots of fruity esters from the yeast with a nice hop balance, all in a low alcohol package that delivers tons of flavor.  They are the quintessential session beers.  I also enjoy American ambers/reds, which usually have the bite of a good dose of American hops seen in American pale ales, but more maltiness to balance it out.   Along these lines, I came up with a recipe that combines the base of the english bitter, but substituted an American hop, Centennial,  in place of the usual Kent Goldings that I use in my bitters.  I used a touch of roasted malt, in this case Carafa I, to help darken the color a bit without adding too much of a dark roasted flavor.  Please note, this recipe was for a 6 gallon batch, hence the lower gravity numbers.

9.00 lb       Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
1.00 lb       Carared (20.0 SRM)
0.50 lb       Melanoiden Malt (20.0 SRM)
0.13 lb       Carafa I (337.0 SRM)                      Grain
0.75 oz       Cenntenial Loose [9.20 %]  (60 min)       Hops         20.0 IBU
0.50 oz       Cenntenial Loose [9.20 %]  (30 min)       Hops         10.3 IBU
0.50 oz       Cenntenial Loose [9.20 %]  (Flameout)        Hops
1.00 items    Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)          Misc
1 Pkgs        English Ale (White Labs #WLP002)          Yeast-Ale

OG: 1.038, FG 1.014, ABV 3.12%

Tasting:  The beer is a nice, dark copper color, crystal clear from the time in the bottle.  The head is a solid white that fades over a few minutes, but did not disappear entirely until the bottom of the glass.  The aroma of the beer is a mild citrus from the hops, combined with mild fruit, and a toasty maltiness.  This beer is about 1 year old by now, so the hops have faded quite a bit on the nose, more in keeping with the English style vs the stronger hops of the American ambers it resembled when first brewed.  The malt you can taste right at the front, slightly toasty, followed by a mild hoppy bitterness, and finishing very clean with a bit more of the toasted malt in the background.

Critique:  It tastes like a bitter, with american hops, go figure.  I really enjoy this beer.  This is also probably my favorite yeast strain I have found to date for brewing beers with that “English” character.  It ferments fast, drops quickly, and leaves a ton of flavor behind.  Great for lower gravity brews.  A nice twist on the English bitter, I will probably try this again, but on draft and dryhopped with American hops.

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