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Standard Bitter

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I’m starting to fall in love with low gravity beers, and I really want to keep one on tap regularly. To accomplish that, I’m going to start brewing a low gravity batch each time I switch yeast strains. The nice benefit to this is, I get enough healthy yeast for 2-3 subsequent ferments. Since, I have a couple batches on deck that are going to use WLP002, we’re brewing a standard bitter today.

 

This is a style that I’m mildly familiar with, as I’ve brewed a few special bitters in the past. I went with a pretty simple recipe here. Since I’m too lazy to buy Marris Otter, I used American 2-row, but with a healthy dose of Victory to replace that crackery, toasty quality of MO. There’s some C120 for color and flavor, and EKG for flavor and aroma. I’m again breaking style using Apollo to bitter the beer. It shouldn’t have a big impact, especially at around 1/3rd of an ounce.

 

I brewed this on a Sunday night after a particularly productive weekend. Despite being in a hurry so I could go to bed, everything went fairly smooth. I did underestimate how cold my mash tun was, and the infusion came in at around 141*. The HERMS quickly raised the small mash to 152*, and chugged along for 60 minutes. That was followed by a 60 minute boil and quick chill to 64* (I’m loving that the ground water temps are finally <70*).

 

I pitched a single vial of WLP002, and let it rip at around 17.5C. After 48 hours, I let the wort free-rise to 68, and held it there until it finished out. Not a ton to report on after that. Kegged, crashed, gelatined, and carbed.

Brewed: 01-06-13
Kegged: 01-16-12
OG: 1.038
FG: 1.011
ABV: 3.6%
IBU: 27
6 Gallons


6lbs 2-row
12oz Victory
8oz C120
Mash @ 152
11g Apollo @ 60
.5oz EKG @ 20
.5oz EKG @ 0
WLP002 – English Ale Yeast

 

Alright, it’s been on tap for almost two weeks now, and it turned out really nice. It smells like toasted malt and earthy/floral hops. There’s a nice caramel note that holds it together. Some esters in the flavor, but not to the point it’s out of style. Mouthfeel is a little thin, but not to the point you’d call it watery. It just turned out to be a really nice beer that goes down very smooth. The beer could have used a touch more bitterness though. I could tackle that through more sulfates in the water, or more bittering hops. I’m not sure which direction I’ll go next time.

 

I’m really getting on the session beer bandwagon, as I very much enjoy being able to knock back a pint or two and still be productive afterwards. That pretty much sums it up. Great beer, nothing terribly special, but I’m enjoying it.

14 thoughts on “Standard Bitter”
  1. HALF WIT 01.30.2013 on 3:12 AM Reply

    I'm on board the session beer bandwagon. I've been brewing a Bitter American clone as my go to session beer on tap. I love that it's only 4.4% ABV, but has that nice firm bitterness and dry hop character. I can have a few pints and still function the next day, which is key.

  2. Scott 01.30.2013 on 3:15 AM Reply

    Exactly. I love being able to drink a pint or two and not be drunk.

    I'm brewing a tiny American Pale in a month or so, definitely looking forward to it!

  3. HALF WIT 01.30.2013 on 3:32 AM Reply

    Cool – I'm already looking forward to the write up! Off topic, but I know you've moved away from US-05 lately, but when you were using it were you re-hydrating? Also you said the flocculation wasn't quite where you wanted it, but your gelatine trick has been clearing my beers up awesome – thanks so much for that tip!

  4. Scott 01.30.2013 on 3:45 AM Reply

    Yes, yes, and kind of.

    I've mostly moved away from US05. Great yeast though; I have no qualms with it. Lately I've just found that WLP001 clears up faster for me, and subsequently tastes better quicker.

    Definitely re-hydrated. I'd stir the yeast into 90-100F water, then come back in 5 minutes, and stir again. Usually that was enough to give a creamy, even mixture.

    Gelatin definitely drops out a TON of crap, and it does get beers clear in a hurry, but I've found it only gets them 90% there. Time and temperature have to make up that last 10%. US05 was starting to take 2-3 weeks to clear up brilliantly (as well as taste super clean). WLP001 gets there in 1-2 weeks. It doesn't sound like much, but I only have room for 3 kegs in the Keezer. I brew lots of beer for parties and events, so flocculation is pretty important to me. I'm actually using English yeasts much more as a result.

  5. Aaron Ouellette 01.30.2013 on 2:46 PM Reply

    I'm loving the low abv stuff too. The two styles I want to nail are low abv hoppy wheat, and session pale.
    Half Wit, did you use the BYO recipe for the bitter american clone? I took a swing at that, I like it, but I missed my numbers by too much to consider it a clone. It's a solid beer.

    I really like the idea of working through a yeast by re-pitching, I haven't been brewing frequently enough to make it work, but maybe I'll try it next time I plan on brewing.

  6. Scott 01.30.2013 on 3:52 PM Reply

    Ya, it's a nice bonus, I get enough yeast for around 3 batches, and I get a nice session beer.

    I think the low gravity american pale is going to be tough to get perfect. Lots of balance needed there. I'm shooting for a 3.5% beer, so we'll see.

    Bitter American is great beer btw, I just want to drop the ABV another full %

  7. Douglas 01.31.2013 on 3:29 AM Reply

    You should really switch to an English Malt (Halycon, Maris, etc) and use English hops exclusively. Adding more sulfates is never a bad idea. I think you will find the addition of more hops (lower AAs on the English hops) and gypsum very pleasant.

  8. Scott 01.31.2013 on 4:52 AM Reply

    I added a good amount of gypsum to the water for this beer. Sulfates were probably around 250ppm or so. It was Burton-on-Trent hard, but still.

    As for the base malt, ya, Marris has a distinct flavor, and it's more noticeable on beers like this. Im really lazy though, and a big dose of a victory gives a passable alternative. If I was submitting this to a competition, I would go to the trouble of buying English base malt.

  9. HALF WIT 01.31.2013 on 2:11 PM Reply

    I did use the clone from BYO – I thought it was very close, at least in the few side by sides I did.

  10. Paul Blatz 01.31.2013 on 8:40 PM Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Paul Blatz 01.31.2013 on 8:40 PM Reply

    Scott – I know you like to devise your own recipes, as do I, but the San Diego Session Ale in the back of Stone's recent book, AKA Kelsey McNair's American Bitter is pretty fantastic and right up your alley, based on your other brews.

  12. Scott 02.01.2013 on 5:54 PM Reply

    I'll have to google the recipe for that. I remember having that beer a couple years ago. Great hop character.

  13. JupiterJesus 03.02.2013 on 3:40 AM Reply

    I've been crazy about english pale ales lately, and went with the special bitter from Brewing Classic Styles. Great flavor so far, and doesn't knock me on my ass. Hard to find something below 8% ABV here on the west coast. Personally, I'd raise the bittering hops and focus more on calcium chloride additions. I feel like gypsum tends to lead to that lingering, mouth-coating bitterness, whereas just raising the IBUs provides more of a subtle balancing to the sweetness. It doesn't jump out at you, but you'd notice it if you tried two beers of different IBUs side by side. I think the latter is what you want, and the cacl really gives a Bitter a nice roundness. I bittered to around 30 IBU and threw in an extra 10 min addition by accident and it tastes pretty damn balanced. Super crackery though – used Crisp MO, C120 and Aromatic. Wish I knew what the purpose of the Aromatic was.

  14. Scott 03.03.2013 on 6:20 PM Reply

    Ya, I definitely want more bittering hops next time around, I think it'll help bring the beer together a litter better.

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