Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Brew Day: Ordinary Bitter

Whereas a few months ago I would have gladly spent an afternoon cozied up to the bar of my local with a pint in hand, having a friendly debate about politics or philosophy, these days I'm just not feeling it. It might be that I'm not drinking as much as I used to (barely four pints a week) and that work has me running ragged, but a large part of my lack of enthusiasm for drinking out has to due with the state of our pubs. Shortly put, where there once was ten taps of good and honest beer, we now have sixty of the same damn thing. IPA, IPA, and more IPA clones that all taste the same. The quality and freshness of the beer goes down and the price goes up to support the ever growing selection.

Regardless, the recipe I have for today is a simple 'pub bitter' of sorts... just a low alcohol, malty beer that is full in flavor and perfect for the warming weather. I was originally thinking of making a Boddington clone, but I decided on something with a bit more dark caramel and sweet-malt character. To achieve this, the grist I am using is Golden Promise, dark crystal (75L), and a small amount of honey malt. While I don't normally use honey malt in my English style ales - it is almost never necessary if using good quality, UK base malts - in this beer, it should pair well with the natural sweetness of the yeast. Also, I am interested to see how the flavor of the honey malt compares in place of using a similar amount of invert syrup. Yeast will be WY1318, as it makes a terrific bitter and provides some candy-sweetness flavor in the finish. As I don't want a lot of fruity esters, I'll be fermenting this one no higher than 65F. I should have this beer ready for drinking by the end of the month.
Challenger Bitter

Pub Bitter : Ordinary Bitter

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5 
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.70
Anticipated OG: 1.038
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 20
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

89.5% - 6.00 lbs. Golden Promise
7.5% - 0.50 lbs. Dark Crystal (75L)
3.0% - 0.20 lbs. Honey Malt

0.75 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 16 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 10 min for 4 IBU

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London III
Brewed on 5 May


  1. I just brewed a more complex grain/hop bill recipe of a Best Bitter and used the 1318 yeast. I am very happy with it, but I am curious about brewing a much simpler version like yours.

    1. The 1318 yeast is a great choice for all sorts of bitters. This beer in particular turned out good, although it was quite different than what I expected. In all honesty, I probably wouldn't brew it again with this exact grist (i'd drop the honey for sure and go back to a lighter, 45-55L crystal.

      If you are looking to brew a simpler bitter, you can't go wrong with something around 95% pale and 5% medium crystal. Some torrefied wheat (5-10%) is fine too. In such a beer, the type of pale and crystal malts you use will have a big impact and I stick with UK maris otter/golden promise (fawcett, crisp, simpsons, warminster) and crystal malts. Almost any hops will work, although for UK hops, I prefer Challenger, EKG, First Gold.

      Of course, what will really make the beer is going to be your fermentation and water treatment.


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