Bitter #5

Bitter #5

I have a friend who just turned 50.  His wife is throwing a big bash at his house.  He grew up just west of London, and “proper bitter” is one of the things he misses from home.  He will have several family members visiting from the UK as well, and my gift to him for the party is a “proper pint of bitter.”  He is part of my regular tasting victims, er, I mean panel, so I have a fairly good idea of what he likes.  Nice malt body, decent bitterness in the back and on the palate, nice subtle hop aroma, and “none of those catty, piney American hops.”

For the recipe, I went with a pretty straight forward 90/10 build on the malt bill of 2 row pale malt and crystal.  I also had run out of Kent Golding, so I used some Willamette whole leaf hops I had in the freezer.  There is a new home brew store in my town, and I popped in to grab some malt and check the place out.  Unfortunately, he is just getting started, and while the shop owner is a homebrewer, he extract brews and did not really grasp the importance of good base malts.  He did have some Crisp 2 row pale in a 10# sack, but it was pre ground.   I bought it anyway because I needed it, but I have no idea how long it has been in the bag.  He told me just a few weeks in the store, but at the distributor, no idea. I always grind my own grain, and have gotten used to how my mill works, but I had no idea how good the grind would be on this.  However, I was in a bit of a pinch, so I bought it and gave it a try.

8.00 lb       Pale Malt, Crisp                Grain        91.43 %
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt Muntons (60.0 SRM)           Grain        5.71 %
0.25 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt Dark Simpsons (150.0 SRM)     Grain        2.86 %
1.50 oz       Williamette [4.50 %]  (60 min)           24.8 IBU
0.50 oz       Williamette [4.50 %]  (30 min)           5.8 IBU
0.50 oz       Williamette [4.50 %]  (15 min)            3.7 IBU
1 Pkgs        London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)        Yeast-Ale

Simple infusion mash at 155F for 1 hour, finished at 152F.  Batch sparged with 6 gallons of 168F water in 2 stages.  The OG was 1.042, giving me a 73% efficiency.  I was not thrilled by this, but it was in the ballpark, I was shooting for 1.045.  This beer will have 33.9 IBU’s with a IBU/GU ration of 0.759.  I had made a 2 L start with London Ale III, and pitched that after aerating the wort with oxygen.  I let it ferment for 2 weeks, ambient was about 66F, and the FG was 1.012.  The beer ended at 3.8% ABV.  I then racked off the beer to a keg, and I added about 1/4 oz of Williamette leaf hop to the keg.

Tasting:

Color:   hazy orange color, has a nice head that just hangs on.

Aroma:  Nice, spicy and a bit earthy hop nose, with some of the dark fruit esters (cherry) in the back, along with some of the crystal malt.  On the back, you get more of the toasty aroma from the grain

Taste:  toasty malt up front, then you get a touch of sweetness that is quickly washed away by a firm bittering at the backend.  There is a spicy quality I think is from the Williamette.  Finishes with a mouth cleaning bitterness, and a slight prickly from the carbonation.  Medium mouthfeel, coats the mouth, but is not thick.

Critique:  I am pretty happy with this beer.  It is actually more bitter and hoppy then I had anticipated, but I really like the Williamette.  There is a nice spiciness and roundness to the hop, and a clean bitterness that makes it very easy to drink.  I did not get as much of the fruit from the yeast as I usually have, and I think it is because the beer was fermented at cooler temperatures then I usually do.  Overall, the net effect is the same, a very easy to drink, refreshing beer that is low gravity.  I will be curious to see how the Englishman take it, my guess it is going to be a touch hoppier then they prefer, but the Yanks will dig it!

Post-Mortum — The beer was universally well received at the party.  Probably 15 people tried it, and most went back for more.  This just cements for me that a nice Bitter is one of the best crowd pleasers out there.  I got the keg back with dregs.  The nice thing about that is, now I have to fill it again!

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