Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Amber Special Bitter Recipe

Audrey invited her coworkers over for a mini-Oktoberfest in our backyard. In preperation, she brewed a batch that most of them would enjoy, a low-ABV ESB-ish malty ale that looks a bit like an Oktoberfest. As you can tell from the drop in post-frequency, more of my time is being sucked up by Sapwood Cellars (we're reviewing the lease now). Someone is going to have to keep the taps filled at home!

Her plan was to ferment with White Labs 002 English Ale. The Fuller's strain is a quick fermenting and flocculating yeast perfect in low-gravity ales given its low attenuation (for example). Mild enough yeastiness that it shouldn't be off-putting to casual craft beer drinkers. When we stopped by the local homebrew store they were down to a single tube, enough of an excuse for a split-batch. The description of WLP013 (London Ale) with an "oakey ester character" appealed to Audrey, and I had never used it before. I have used the Wyeast equivalent in name and origin (WY1028) in batches of Courage Russian Imperial Stout, but not for anything similar to this.

The shop was also out of East Kent Goldings, so we swapped to Challenger for the aroma addition. Challenger isn't as orangey as EKG, but they have a wonderfully mellow herbaceous quality. Out of flaked wheat too, so we opted for torrified "puffed" wheat (something Dan Paquette of Pretty Things suggested to Nathan and I for bitters years ago). Torrified grains requires milling, but are gelatinized like flaked wheat and thus can be added directly to the mash without pre-cooking. It contributes a slightly toasty flavor too. Given substitutions for yeast, malt, and hops it likely isn't a surprise that I usually do my homebrew shopping online!

Fall Special Bitter: WLP002

Smell – Caramel maltiness leads. Clean, lightly estery, classic English without being minerally. Faint tea-like hop aroma.

Appearance – Mild haze in the copper/amber body. Terrific retention, thanks to the torrefied wheat. Wonderfully sticky, high- relief lacing.

Taste – Toastiness increases to support the caramel, and is joined by a stronger herbal hop-note. Well rounded malt flavor. Mild bitterness in the tail. No alcohol presence. Bare hint of diacetyl-butterscotch as it reaches room-temperature.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, medium carbonation. Just a hair of astringency in the finish.

Drinkability & Notes – Fits the Special Bitter metrics, but tastes maltier, more like a small ESB.

Changes for Next Time – It would be difficult to change it a little and improve it. A local maximum. Not my favorite English session ale, I tend to prefer brighter and hoppier, but I don’t think this would improve without fundamentally changing what it is.

Fall Special Bitter: WLP013

Smell – Hoppier, surprisingly. Might just be associating the slight citrusy (orange) ester profile of WLP013 with English hops. Caramel takes a backseat comparatively.

Appearance – Similar, although the head isn’t quite as long-lasting or sticky.

Taste – Not as direct as the other half. The malt isn’t as clear and fresh. The hops are more saturated and full tasting. Similar mellow bitterness.

Mouthfeel – A hair fuller, without the mild astringency. Carbonation is a bit higher as I poured this one second.

Drinkability & Notes – I’d be less-certain of what this one is. The esters feel more distracting in this malt-focused beer. I’d actually been enjoying this one more than the other, but side-by-side it doesn’t work as well as I’d though.

Changes for Next Time – I’d go even hoppier on this one to play-off the yeast. Double the Challenger!

October Special Bitter

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 12.0
IBU: 32.3
OG: 1.044
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.4%
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69%
Boil Time: 60 mins

80.0% - 15 lbs Crisp Floor-Malted Maris Otter
10.7% - 2 lbs Torrified Wheat
8.0% - 1.5 lbs Briess Caramel 40
1.3% - 0.25 lbs Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash In - 45 min @ 152F

1.25 oz Nugget (Pellets, 13.6% AA) @ 60 min
1.00 oz Challenger (Pellet, 6.8% AA) @ 20 min Whirlpool

White Labs WLP002 English Ale
White Labs WLP013 London Ale



Brewed 9/3/17

Chilled to 80F, left at 63F overnight to cool. In the morning, pitched WLP002 into FV2, WLP013 into FV1. Both fresh packs (May and June production). Shook to aerate, left at 63F to ferment. The WLP013 half was fermenting well by the next day, but the WLP002 half wasn't really rocking until day three.

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FerventBrewer said...

WLP013 is my favorite yeast for Browns, Porters and Stouts. It's less attenuative and just works well in those styles. It probably helps that I prefer them maltier over dry.

Unknown said...

I recently did my first bitter and used WY1469 West Yorkshire and it was pretty solid. I did a fair amount of research on the style and wound up using Pearl malt, a little dark crystal, a splash of Amber malt (highly recommended) and Invert #2.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear!

I used 1469 years ago in a Landlord clone. The flavor was great, but the krausen never dropped. I've heard a few advocates for it, might have to revisit!

Unknown said...

Quick question. Is that your water profile before or after any additions?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

In this case it is one in the same as there were no salt additions. In general though I always list the profile with all of the water (mash and sparge) and salts combined.

qq said...

Tim Taylor beer is notorious for how long it takes to condition, so I guess 1469 is just a slow yeast. Always good to rouse those northern strains after a day or two though.

I'd have said Challenger has rather more orange than Goldings, so you could be looking at a storage/age issue. First Gold would be the better choice among mainstream British hops if that's what you're looking for.

I'm not sure if you can get it, but I know a brewery in Kent that has now replaced Challenger with Endeavour in all its beers, it's got more fruit and citrus to it.

Unknown said...

I would like to brew this with the new dry yeast I obtained, liberty bell from mangrove jack in Australia

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I haven't used it, but they suggest it for ESBs so doesn't sound like a bad idea. Let me know what the results are!