Saturday, February 1, 2014

#32 - Best Bitter Recipe and Tasting

This is a replacement post for one that disappeared while I was creating it and will probably be a little short on detail.

I brewed this Special/Best/Premium Bitter in the Fall when my desires turned to beers which were fairly light in alcohol but had both moderate malt and hop characteristics, as displayed by the previous brewed Altbier.

The base of this beer was primarily English Pale Malt.  I had originally planned to use Maris Otter but they were almost out at the LHBS so I augmented with equal parts Golden Promise and a non-specified Maltster's British Pale Ale malt.  Part of this recipe design came from tasting a wort sample made with Victory malt and the craving for a traditional pint of bitter as I experienced in London, leading me to use .5 lbs of crystal 60 malt.  Hops were entirely East Kent Goldings to have a very traditional flare and Bedford British yeast was used after being unable to find the intended strain and reading rave reviews on The Perfect Pint.  Below is a tasting now more than 3 months after bottling.

A- Slightly hazy copper.  Pours with a thick off-white head that recedes to a half finger layer and leaves good lacing.  It certainly looks the part of a bitter.

S- Malts predominate on the nose giving toffee, cookie and fresh bread with the EKG aroma having fallen to just a touch of woodiness if you really search for it.  Hop aroma was certainly better when fresh, but it never exactly leaped out of the glass.

T- While malts again dominate up front with a toffee and biscuit character, the EKG hops shine through much more here with the characteristic flavors of light citrus, savory herbs and wood.  There's also the slightest peppery character that I don't recall being there when fresh.

M- One of the biggest changes in this beer over time is that it has unfortunately grown increasingly carbonated.  I had envisioned this beer having a very low carbonation to mimic the traditional cask ale.  While the beer was great at this level after a few weeks it slowly rose beyond that point to upper levels of carbonation that would be more fitting for a Belgian style than British.  The mouthfeel in the end comes out a bit overly spritzy and dry instead of the full bodied but sessionable body expected for the style.

O- This beer came out alright but not phenomenal.  When I first tasted it I thought I might have a contest entry, but over time the aroma and taste went down and the carbonation went up, leaving this one just an ok beer and not a strong representation of the style.  That said, it is nice to have a nicely balanced beer that I can have a few of without feeling the effects and to that end, its a fairly good beer.

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