With a 55 lb. sack of Maris Otter malt on hand, I’ve been exploring the world of English beers. The latest stop along this journey was with a best bitter (known commercially sometimes as ESB, or Extra Special Bitter). In order to make this a quick-and-easy brew day, I opted to do a full-volume, no-sparge mash. Even with that shortcut, this one was a winner!
- 8.5 lb. Maris Otter malt (Bairds)
- 0.5 lb. caramel 80° malt (Briess)
- 0.25 lb. 90°L 6-row caramel malt (Briess)
- 0.25 lb. 20°L caramel malt (Briess)
- 1 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (6.0% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 oz. East Kent Goldings hop pellets (6.0% alpha), 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. London ESB English Style Ale Yeast (Lallemand)
- 60 minute full volume infusion mash, 152°
- 1.042 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.0% abv, 28 IBU, 10 SRM
- Claremont tap water
- I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 156.5°, to hit 151.8° mash temperature. After 60 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected the full volume for the boil.
- In total, I collected ~6.25 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.039, for 69.2% mash efficiency.
- I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and finings per the schedule. Then, I chilled and trasnferred to the fermenter.
- Starting gravity was 1.044, when I brewed this on 3 February 2019. I fermented at 66°.
- I kegged the beer on 25 February 2019, at a final gravity of 1.015. This works out to 3.8% abv.
- The beer started out pretty hazy in the keg, but dropped really clear after two or three weeks.
- The Basics
- O.G. = 1.044; f.g. = 1.015; 3.8% abv; 10 SRM; 28 estimated IBU
- Clear, medium amber color, with a fine white head that is pretty persistent. This beer has clarified nicely over the past few weeks.
- Light caramel, slightly bready aroma, with a faint fruitiness; incredibly delicious overall!
- This is a malt forward beer with a pleasant bitterness on the finish. It’s highly drinkable, with none of the character being overwhelming. The hop character is moderate and balanced well against the malt.
- Moderate carbonation appropriate for the style, with a really nicely balanced finish and mouthfeel.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! It’s a dead simple beer, but one that’s just enjoyable. Pretty much everything is on target here. It’s not one of those “blow your taste buds out of the water” styles, but instead is a solid, enjoyable brew. I might up the fermentation temperature a bit or consider a different yeast, to get more prominent yeast notes, but that’s a fairly minor thing. For being “only” 3.8% abv, this beer doesn’t taste like it!