Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brew Day: Special Bitter

In preparation for brewing this beer, I listened to the CYBI show for Well's Bombardier Bitter, hoping to find out about their fermentation process. Here are some of the things they mentioned. First, they ferment all of their beers in squat, conical fermenters and harvest their yeast from the bottom of the tanks. The brewmaster mentioned the Well's yeast is capable of top cropping under the right conditions and seemed to insinuate that it was once collected as such. Regarding their fermentation schedule, they pitch their yeast at 63F and let the temperature free rise to 68F over the course of 80 hours, before crash cooling at 32F for seven days. In comparison, my process is nearly the same, although I usually give the beer two weeks in the fermenter and don't crash cool so cold. The brewmaster also gave a few details of their water profile, mentioning the sulfate content of their water is 300ppm and amount of magnesium is around 20ppm. I was a little surprised at the amount of sulfate, as I would have never expected a brewery of that size to still use such highly mineralized water.

Therefore, to keep this batch of beer inline with what they are doing at the Well's brewery, given we are using the same yeast, I will be following a similar fermentation schedule and increase the amount of minerals to something comparable with what they are using. As for the recipe, I will be using TF maris otter and some Fawcett 40L and 120L crystal. To mix things up a bit, hopping will be modeled on a very famous Champion Beer of Britain, using Fuggle, EKG, and Styrian Goldings hops. Lastly, unlike my previous batch where I racked the beer to the keg early, this one will be kegged and served as normal.

The Bitter End : English Special Bitter

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.75
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 35
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

90.3% - 7.50 lbs. Maris Otter
6.5% - 0.50 lbs. Crystal 40L
3.2% - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 120

1.00 oz. Fuggles @ 60 min for 23 IBU
1.00 oz. EKG @ 15 min for 12 IBU
1.50 oz. Styrian Goldings @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs 006 Bedford Bitter
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 3 December

Tasting Notes


  1. This looks tasty!

    And is the Champion Beer in question TTL?

  2. Champion bitter is def. the TTL, the hopping taken right from Kris England's NB peddled kit. Awesome beer that kit made, and wyeast 1469 is killer also. Great looking recipe.

  3. Yes on the TTL. A local bottle shop got in a few and I bought them all up. Although the trip over hasn't done the hop character much good. Wish I could try it on cask again and compare.

    Another 'Champion' beer I would love to try (and brew) is Crouch Vale's "Brewers Gold." Heard lovely things about that one.

    1. Ask and you shall receive, assuming you haven't seen this already.

      Here is Kris' version clone of Crouch Vale's Brewers Gold. Look for the post by mashweasel with the recipe listed. I made it with Zythos hops (meh) and wyeast 1469. Fanf'ntastic beer that would easily work with any hop. The UK lager malt is neat stuff.

  4. I really enjoyed the CYBI ep. There were a lot of interesting things that came out. Every clone recipe I've seen is all malt but the actual recipe is 25% sugar. The mash schedule is crazy 50C-70C-75C if I remember right (maybe thats the reason it doesnt dry out to 1.004 despite all the invert). ...and then the water. Did they discuss the chloride level and I missed it?

  5. Very cool. Might have to try this soon. Just curious, how cold do you crash your finished beer at and for how long?

  6. From what I heard, they only mentioned the sulfate and magnesium. I went for 300ppm so4, 20ppm mg, and 35-40ppm cacl2 with 100% RO water. Single infusion mash.

    The amount of invert they use and their mash schedule is really bizzare... I would be interested to see how they brewed their beers before the merger.

    I usually crash cool in the kegerator, which stays around 42-45F, but I can go lower. Usually no more than a week, though its a pain in the ass moving everything around.

  7. This is my go-to blog on bitters. I wonder if you could share the recipe that you are most proud of with me? I want to make a fine bitter that will be ready when the weather breaks here in NH.

    Thanks! And great work on the blog!

    1. I'm actually working on a post now that should cover this in detail. If you can wait a day or two for the recipe and water/yeast particulars...

      Also, I grew up just south of lake winnipesaukee, so I can appreciate that sentiment when the ice melts and spring finally arrives. Cheers.

    2. No kidding? I moved here about 4 years ago. My well has really good brewing water.

      I look forward to your post.



  8. Im giving this recipe a go and trying Bedford yeast for the first time.
    Great nostalgia. Bedford is my home county. But I reside in Australia.
    The Fermentation is currently stuck around 1.018 so im ramping it up slowly to 22 and rousing.
    This happens to you too with Bedford?

    Just out of interest: Flame out Styrian vs Dry hop additions to the secondary. Comparison of flavour profile and quantity adjustments?

    1. Nice to hear you're giving the Bedford yeast a go! I haven't had problems with this yeast stopping early, it always seems to end some where around 1.010-12, even with a fair amount of crystal malts. That said, rousing the yeast should help, as with the increase in temp. One thing with this you do have to be careful with this yeast, is that it does need a fair amount of oxygen at pitching.

      As per the styrians, I haven't dry hopped with them in ages, although they have a very nice orange-spice aroma/flavor and would go great in a beer like this. I'd dry hop it around 1-1.5oz per 5 gallons. I think you get a better orange-marmalade character when they (and EKG/First Gold) are used late in the boil, compared to a similar amout for dry hopping.



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