English Bitter #3

English Bitter #3

English Bitters are some of my favorite beers to brew and drink.  High in flavor, low in alcohol, you can have a few pints and make it to work the next day bright and early no worse for wear.  I first encountered these beers when I traveled through the UK after college.  I was able to sample many a pint from various casks, and just loved it.  A good friend of mine is an Englishman, and when you talk with him about food and drink, it always comes back to bitter.  His hometown brew is Brakspear, and he speaks of it fondly.  I started trying my hand at these when I invested in a draft system.  I like having lower alcohol beers on tap, and have rotated around to various styles, but keep coming back to these.  My wife loves them, and I have found that most of our friends who come over for dinner, even those that are not really “beer drinkers” seem to really enjoy these beers.  I have made several versions, tweaking the recipe each time.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any left from the first batch.  The second I made the horrible mistake of brewing in the heat of summer when even my basement was  73 degrees (a real rarity here in Maine) and it just was not drinkable.  I learned to stick with the Belgians in August until I get a cooling system.  The yeast went crazy, it tasted like beer mixed with instant iced tea, so I scrapped it, and went on to recipe #3 when September hit and the weather cooled, which is the one below.   This was for a final 5.25 gallon batch:

6.00 lb       Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
0.75 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM)
0.75 lb       Special Roast (50.0 SRM)
1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (60 min) (First wort hops)         21.0 IBU
0.25 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (30 min)    Hops         3.7 IBU
0.50 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (20 min)    Hops         5.8 IBU
0.25 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (10 min)    Hops         1.7 IBU
1.00 oz       Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %]  (1 min)     Hops         0.8 IBU
1 Pkgs        English Ale (White Labs #WLP002)          Yeast-Ale

OG: 1.041, FG 1.012, ABV 3.77%.  This was an infusion mash at 154F.

Tasting:  A note, the beer was originally kegged.  As it was getting low, I decided to bottle off the remaining beers, of which I have 6, to free up the keg for the next batch.  The tasting is from one of those bottles.  Color is a deep orange/copper color, with marked carbonation.  The aroma has an earthy dampness, which is some of the hops, but it also has a musty cardboardy note, the beer has likely oxidized some.  I suspect this happened when I bottled.  The beer a nice, toasty malt flavor with fruitiness, kind of appley and a bit of spiciness from the hops.  The beer has a medium body, and a nice toasted malt aftertaste with a good, balanced bitterness that gives it a nice dry finish.

Critique:  A crowd pleaser, a simple beer, easy to make and drink, what is not too like.  It was better when it was fresh, having had some more hops on the nose and it did not have the cardboardy note.  The taste is nice, lots of flavor for a low gravity brew.  I have brewed with Marris Otter for all of my bitters, and I am going to try some new base malts in the future, first up is optic.  I am also going to switch over to using nothing but dark crystal malts for specialty malts.  I think the English base malts will give enough toasty flavor, I don’t need to add more by using stuff like Special Roast.  I also really like this yeast, and will likely use it again.  A work in progress, but off to a good start.

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