Sunday, August 5, 2012

Brew Day: Extra Special Bitter

I finally picked up a few vials of Bedford Bitter yeast last week and I've been anxiously waiting to brew something with it. I had originally planned on making a malty session bitter, but instead I'll do a re-brew of my successful 'Amalgamated ESB' that I had first brewed back in October. To make things a little more interesting, I'll be hopping it rather aggressively with first gold, EKG, and fuggles for a nice hop kick. Aside, I tapped the keg of Gunsmith bitter that I had brewed not long ago - fermented with wy1335 British II - and while I like the hop and malt flavors, I find the yeast character to be a bit bland for my liking. So far, the yeast reminds me a lot of the Whitbread strains, which tend to be neutral, dry, and finish with a slight tartness. Probably won't use it again in a bitter, but it will be interesting to see how it did in my amber IPA.

Amalgamated ESB : Extra Special Bitter

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.75
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 45
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

83.9% - 6.50 lbs. Maris Otter
6.5%  - 0.50 lbs. Crystal 60L
3.2%  - 0.25 lbs. Amber Malt
6.5%  - 0.50 lbs. Invert No. 1

1.00 oz. First Gold @ 60 min for 35 IBU
0.50 oz. Fuggles @ 15 min for 5 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 15 min for 5 IBU
0.50 oz. Fuggles @ flameout
1.00 oz. EKG @ flameout
1.00 oz. First Gold @ flameout
0.75 oz. EKG @ dryhop for 7 days
0.75 oz. First Gold @ dryhop for 7 days 

Yeast: Whitelabs 006 Bedford Bitter
Mash 154F for 75 min.
Brewed 5 August


  1. Hi Will,

    This is only my second time commenting, but I’ve been reading all of your posts, and have learned a lot in the process. Based on your recommendations, I’ve ordered the WPL006, and will be brewing a session bitter with it real soon.

    One thing I haven’t tried yet is dry hopping. Could you please elaborate on your techniques and experiences with dry hopping? One concern I have is the risk of contamination. Thanks,

    George in Mount Kisco, NY

    1. Hey, glad to hear you'll be trying out wlp006. As for dry-hopping my bitters, I most often add the hops to fermenter once the fermentation has finished and the yeast has completely flocculated (say day 10-14). If the beer is still really hazy or I want to harvest the yeast from the primary, I'll often dry hop in a secondary. The hops stay in the beer for about a week, although it depends on how much hop character I want. For some beers, 3-4 days gives just enough aroma, whereas a longer dry hop will give more, but I've also encountered some grassy notes when I've gone as long as 10 days.

      As for the hops, I seem to get better aroma from pellet hops in general, although I have found using whole leaf hops has produced better results when dry hopping in the keg... as the hops remain in the beer until the keg kicks. I've never had any issues with the hops contaminating the beer, although I try to keep my hops and equipment as sanitary as possible throughout all the stages. Not rubbing them in my hands before putting them in, ect.

      Definitely give dry-hopping a try, it really makes these types of session beer's pop if you like hops! Cheers.


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