Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Brew Day: English Bitter(s)

With a kegerator full of dark and hoppy beer and nary a session beer in sight, I am feeling a bit ashamed that I haven't got around to brewing a proper English bitter in what seems like ages; especially since my favorite English yeast was released back in July (WLP006 Bedford Bitter) and I haven't brewed a damn thing with it. Well that is soon to change. Today I am brewing two beers, a rather standard special bitter and an interesting, hoppy bitter that uses a resurrected yeast and Brewers Gold hops. Can you guess which beer this one is going to be?

The first beer of the day is another variation of my standard special bitter recipe, consisting of Maris Otter, English dark crystal (75L), and a small amount of biscuit malt. Hopping is all EKG and the yeast is, of course, Bedford Bitter. Two things worth noting about this one. First, I have always been a rather vocal proponent of NOT adding aromatic, biscuit, or special roast to English bitter recipes, as I feel they are not needed in recipes that make use of high quality base malts, but alas, I am breaking my own rule for the sake of trying something new. I actually wanted to use some home-toasted malt, for a bit of that crackery/toasted flavor, but I didn't have any on hand. Secondly, this beer will be brewed with a moderately soft water profile, using around 125ppm of sulfate and low amounts of everything else. The goal here is to end up with a well balanced beer; slightly hoppy and biscuity/honeyed in flavor, with a crisp and clean finish. I am very much looking forward to getting this one on tap!

If you couldn't guess, the second beer is the somewhat legendary Crouch Vale Brewers Gold. Ever since I first came across this beer while browsing through a list of GBBF champions, years ago, I knew I had to brew it. Well, I finally found some Brewers Gold hops and after a bit of back-and-forth about what I wanted to do for a recipe, I settled on something that I hope will get me close enough to the real thing. While the very popular Kris England recipe (found here and here), calls for using only lager malt and adding all of the hops at 15 minutes from flameout, I decided to take a different approach. Having asked a few people that had brewed the recipe what they thought of it, it seemed like the general consensus was that it made a pretty tasty and moderately hoppy beer... but is quite bland compared to what most craft beer drinkers are accustomed to. I decided to use Golden Promise and divide the hopping into two equal parts, one at 15 min and another at flameout. The goal here is to end up with a beer that has more malt character than what the lager malt provides and is also a tad more floral/hoppier. However, I will be using the actual Crouch Vale yeast... the ex-Ridley's... WLP022 Essex Ale. I restarted the yeast from the bottom of my keg of English IPA and it looks to be in great shape.

Saving the yeast
Creek Bitter II: English Special Bitter

Recipe Specifics: 
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Batch Size (Gal): 4.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.75
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 30
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
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88.9% - 6.00 lbs. Maris Otter
7.4%   - 0.50 lbs. Dark Crystal (75L)
3.7%   - 0.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt

Hops:
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0.75 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 22 IBU
0.50 oz. EKG @ 15 min for 8 IBU
1.50 oz. EKG @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs 006 Bedford Bitter
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 2 September

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Brewers Gold: English Golden Ale

Recipe Specifics: 
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Batch Size (Gal): 4.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.5
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 5
Anticipated IBU: 28
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
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100% - 7.5 lbs. Pale Malt, Golden Promise

Hops:
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1.50 oz. Brewers Gold @ 15 min for 28 IBU
1.50 oz. Brewers Gold @ flameout

Yeast: WhiteLabs 022 Essex Ale
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 2 September
 
The water profile for the Brewers Gold beer is a big change from the norm, using low sulfate (38ppm) and high chloride (70pmm). I wanted to see what type of effect this will have on a yeast that produces a fair amount of mineral character by itself. Will it be minerally or not? Nearly 100% RO water was used for both beers.

11 comments:

  1. My Brewer's Gold - with Bedford yeast, went down really well with my beer loving buddies, but I have to say it wasn't a big hit with me. I think changing to Golden Promise (Mine was lager malt) will be a big improvement. Can't wait to read your tasting notes on it,

    Sean

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    Replies
    1. I figured Golden Promise would be a good subsitution, clean with more character than lager malt. It's been a while since I've done a sMaSh beer.

      How did the Bedford yeast work for you?

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  2. My city water is very soft and slightly alkaline (CaCO3 ~ 30ppm) with a pH of around 9. (Ca 10, Mg 2, Na 17, Cl 6, S04 28). This is nice since I can get my mash pH and brewing number in line with a relatively small about of brewing salts (CaS04, CaCl2, MgS04) + acid.

    I find when I push Chloride numbers higher in attempts to enhance maltiness, I get a salty taste to the beer. Na never exceeds 18ppm though. I've found my preference is for a Sulfate:Chloride of ~2:1 (as per your Creek Bitter II profile) with the Chloride typically ~50ppm. 4:1 for IPA's. Looking forward to your results.

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    Replies
    1. Should have read, "...I can get my mash pH and brewing water numbers in line..."

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  3. Out of interest how did your Gales HSB winter warmer recipe turn out, didn't see any tastings from the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sadly, it didn't turn out very well. The main problem was that the yeast overattenuated (FG: 1.006) and left the beer with a very thin mouthfeel, which paired with the high amount of sugar/crystal malt, gave the beer a somewhat thin and cidery aftertaste. I think I drank maybe two full pints and dumped the whole keg out as I had another beer that needed to be kegged.

      I've actually been feeling pretty bad about this one and I have plans to do a proper HSB brew sometime soon, although this time with no crazy sugar and the Bedford yeast. I will most likely using the HSB recipe posted here, or something close: http://www.jimsbeerkit.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=61665#p648580



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    2. Sorry to hear that. I'll probably try to brew one soon for Christmas. Seems like there are two versions out there, the Graham wheeler and the Dave Line recipes. I think I'll go for the dave line for sentimental reasons, his was one of the first homebrew books i bought and since he lived quite close to the brewery before his untimely early death am hoping it might be authentic. Link below has both grahams and Dave line recipe
      http://www.ukhomebrew.info/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=394&sid=1ec53eb515b23b892d326db17c463d94

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  4. Hi Will, ever tried WY1026 in a bitter? I have a pack an am planning to drop it in a beer just like Creek II above.
    Cheers
    Chris

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    Replies
    1. I have used this yeast, although it has been a few years. From what I remember of it, it made a pretty good bitter, although it certainly lived up to its reputation for being a finicky yeast. It seems to taste better at low temps (Marstons supposedly ferments this one at 62F) and it is often said this yeast needs lots of head space and rousing, but that shouldn't be a worry with a homebrew setup.

      Moroever, at warm temps this yeast can get pretty fruity (apple/peachy) and it does often need some type of finings to get clear. As a Burton yeast, it supposedly does well with high sulfate, although I've not tried doing so. As for comparisons, I'd say it tastes similar to WY Thames Valley, although less muddy/minerally. Given the fruity character of this yeast, you might want to consider using a smaller amount of a lighter crystal malt, maybe 5% of a 55L/110EBC. Good luck!

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    2. Hi Will - this beer with 1026 turned out great, if not so clear. Very satisfying to have a bitter in the keg that's better than the $10 craft beers loaded with passionfruit hops.
      I'm minded to have a crack at the crouch vale next, particularly as i've just imported 6 brewlab yeast slants. Keep blogging, its great.
      Chris

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    3. Hey, glad to hear the beer turned out well. I really need to give 1026 another go, its been a while.

      Also, very cool about the brewlab slants. I'm always tempted to buy a bunch, that is, until I see the shipping costs!

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