I had a tap open on my kegerator, so I "had" to brew something quickly, so I came up with a recipe based on what I had on hand. Bitters are some of the fastest and easiest beers to make due to their low gravity and simple recipes, and since I hadn't brewed one in awhile it seemed like the perfect choice. I also wanted to get a big yeast cake for a Munich Porter and a Sour Mashed Old Ale that I've had on my brewing schedule for a while. What I got was a great, malty, balanced English ale that I was able to put on tap just 10 days after I brewed it.
This was my first time using Wyeast's London ESB - 1968. I was impressed not only by how quickly it completed fermented but also by the speed it dropped bright. I brewed on a Tuesday and by the following Sunday the beer was at its terminal gravity and crystal clear (and the following Friday I was drinking it). Luckily the flavor of the beer turned out to be just as impressive. Finally in this strain I've found an English yeast that I'm really happy with both for how it behaves and the beer it makes, hopefully the Munich malt based porter it is working on now won't let me down.
I went with a simple malt bill: mostly Maris Otter, with a bit of medium English crystal malt for sweetness/caramel, and some amber malt for that bready/toasty maltiness. The hops were all whole Goldings from Freshops. They are American grown, but they still provided a combination of herbal/earthy/fruity character that is a classic component of many English ales. I spaced the hop additions over the course of the boil to ensure a saturated hop contribution that isn't too heavy on the aroma so the malt and yeast will be able to make their presence known. I think session ale recipes should be pretty simple, if you want something to be drinkable don't muddle it up with more than a handful of ingredients, and make sure the ingredients you do select are all high quality and flavorful.
I did an all-day (~7 hour) mash while I was at work (which boosted my efficiency making this bitter Extra Special). A long mash is a nice way to shave some time off of a weeknight (or early morning) brew, but make sure to either do a mash-out or use very hot sparge water (180+) since your mash temp will most likely dip down 10-15 degrees. Despite better than expected extraction the beer still only ended up at 5% ABV. I decided to keg condition it with 2 oz of priming sugar both for authenticity's sake and because this beer only had 5 days in primary before I needed the yeast cake. I thought it would benefit from some extra time for the yeast to continue cleaning up before it was chilled down to 45 degrees for serving.
Golding Medal Bitter
Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.61
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 11.1
Anticipated IBU: 33.4
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 min
88.5% - 8.50 lbs. Maris Otter
6.3% - 0.61 lbs. Crystal 55L
5.2% - 0.50 lbs. Amber Malt
1.00 oz. US Goldings (Whole 4.15% AA) 48 min.
1.00 oz. US Goldings (Whole 4.15% AA) 24 min.
1.00 oz. US Goldings (Whole 4.15% AA) 12 min.
1.00 oz. US Goldings (Whole 4.15% AA) 6 min.
0.13 oz. US Goldings (Whole 4.15% AA) 0 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 9 min.
1.00 tsp Irish Moss @ 9 min.
WYeast 1968 - London Extra Special Bitter
Profile: Washington, DC (Carbon Filtered)
Sacch Rest 420 min @ 154
Made a starter 3/15/10 with 2.5 oz of light DME, 1 qrt of water, and 1/4 tsp of yeast nutrient. Good activity by the next morning.
Brewed 3/16/10 started mash before I left for work. Really hot sparge 180-185 to get the grain temp back up from ~138. Collected ~6.75 gallons of runnings.
Added 6 g of gypsum to the kettle during the sparge to up the sulfate content to ~200 ppm.
Boil was a bit weak for the first 30 min, so I switched to a different propane tank to finish out the boil.
Used whole Goldings from Freshops, adjusted AA% down from 4.5%.
1 tsp of Irish Moss, rehydrated, along with the Wyeast yeast nutrient.
Chilled to ~69. Pitched the already flocculating starter. Shook to aerate. Placed in the basement ~62 degrees. Good fermentation after 12 hours.
Fast start to fermentation, but the krausen never got more than a couple inches thick.
3/21/10 Gravity down to 1.015 (72% AA). Racked to a keg and added 2 oz of cane sugar.
3/27/10 Moved to the kegerator, and tapped. Good carbonation, nice head, great malty flavor. The amber malt "biscuit" flavor really comes through nicely.
5/04/10 First tasting, nice malt/hop characters, but it has an odd cocoa finish that must be from the Amber malt.