Monday, December 19, 2011

Extra Special Bitter Tasting

If there is one beer style that has become the cornerstone (and reason) for my brewing existence, it is the humble English bitter. Yet, while I will occasionally stray from the brewing path, tempted no doubt by exotic American hops and those alluring Belgian styles, it is inevitable that I find my way back to the thing that started it all. There is something about the marriage of earthy hops, biscuity malt, and fruity esters so found in an English bitter that truly combines to make it the perfect pint for my tastes. Yet, brewing such a thing is never so easy. One could spend a lifetime trying to get it exactly right. Regardless, every once in a while, I brew a bitter that begins to show small glimpses of perfection. This beer is one of those.

Amalgamated Bitter : Extra Special Bitter                       
Appearance - Pours a lovely light amber/honey color with a two finger head that settles with fine, sticky lacing. Clarity is very good to excellent, but not quite brilliantly clear. Color is a bit lighter than what I was expecting/hoping (who doesn't love a ruby colored pint!?). 

Aroma - Flowery English hops followed by a sweet, biscuity malt aroma and complex yeast esters. A very pleasant smelling pint, you can almost reach in and pick out the individual ingredients. 

Taste - First impression is of herbal, flowery hops followed by a light caramel and biscuity malt character. You can really taste the individual layers of flavors here. The malt character is very clean and the yeast adds a wonderful 'rich' complexity and a slight tartness that smooths everything out. Though, the real kicker here is the invert syrup. The beer finishes with a wonderful, almost ethereal, landyfinger cookie type of flavor and it keeps me coming back. The hops are nicely balanced by the malt and the bitterness is firm but unobtrusive. Spot on.   
Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium, maybe a bit too high for the style, but fine for my palate. The beer has a pleasant, smooth mouthfeel.  
Drinkability & Notes - It is nice to finally achieve what you work so hard for. I won't say this is my perfect pint or that there isn't anything here to improve upon, but this is - definitely - the best ESB I've made to date. I won't be changing this recipe and I plan to re-brew it very soon. I only wish I had saved more  Bedford Bitter (wlp006) yeast... maybe try it out with the Fuller's strain? Lastly, my picture doesn't do this beer justice... but then again, not all good things need to be flaunted. 

O.G: 1.055, F.G: 1.012, 5.5% ABV, 45 IBU, WLP006 Bedford Bitter

1 comment:

  1. I have the same connection to bitters. Not being able to find any fresh examples was one of the main reasons I got into homebrewing. I probably make 75% bitters/pale ales. The other 25% are APA's to satisfy hop cravings and the occasional recipe from Barclay Perkins.

    Beer sounds tasty maybe I'll give your recipe a go.



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