Wednesday, September 23, 2009

English bitter (brew #39)

Today I sampled the latest batch, an English bitter I brewed on September 7. I have been enjoying English beers lately and would like to find a really good recipe. I've never had it, but I have heard many good things about Timothy Taylor Landlord. When looking for clone recipes, I came across Northern Brewer's Innkeeper kit, which they sold to accompany Wyeast's special release West Yorkshire ale yeast, which supposedly comes from the Timothy Taylor brewery. The yeast and the kit are no longer available, but the recipe was still up at Northern Brewer's site. I adapted it for the malts I had and a different yeast strain:

English bitter:
  • OG: 1.047
  • 41 IBU
  • 5 gallons
Grains & sugar:
  • 6.45 lbs Maris Otter pale malt (Hugh Baird)
  • 0.27 lb Crystal malt (120 L)
  • 1.0 lb Demerara sugar
  • 1.0 oz Fuggle hop pellets (4.8% aa) @ 60 min
  • 1.0 oz E. Kent Goldings hop pellets (5.0% aa) @ 45 min
  • 1.0 oz Styrian Goldings hop pellets (3.5% era) @ 5 min
  • Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale yeast
This recipe has had rave reviews on the Northern Brewer forum. I was interested to see that it included a generous dose of sugar, since I have lately realized that many or most commercial English ales are brewed with sugar. I think this may be part of what gives them a distinctive mouthfeel and body relative to American beers. Ron Pattinson has several interesting blog posts about brewing sugar in Britain.

Although the brewing went pretty smoothly, I did miss my target mash temperature (153 F) by a few degrees. The mash started out around 150 F, and by the end of an hour was only 145-146 F. I usually don't have much temperature drop, but this could have been a result of the smaller mass of grain in this recipe. This (along with the sugar in the recipe) resulted in a pretty fermentable beer - the final gravity was 1.008. Next time I will definitely try to hit a higher mash temperature. The hydrometer sample tasted good, but would probably be better with a more malty body. I will also experiment with other English yeasts. The one I used seems to be pretty clean, without too much fruity English character. Regardless, it should taste great when kegged.

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