English Bitter… sorta (all-grain)

Alright. My last couple recipes have been boring as hell.  Iterating on minor details, repeating recipes, just to see the marginal differences they make while the flavors are still fresh in my head.  I’m happy I did this because I learned some useful things, but it’s time to just try something new and different.  This my first beer using English malt as the base, and I found this recipe on ratebeer.com (made some modifications to hops and grain bill).

  • 9 lb Marris Otter pale 2-row malt
  • 12 oz Crystal 90 malt
  • 10 oz Victory malt
  • 4 oz Carapils
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (10.5% aa) 60 min
  • 0.5 oz UK Kent Goldings hops (7% aa) 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (10.5% aa) 15 min
  • 0.5 oz UK Kent Goldings hops (7% aa) 15 min
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (10.5% aa) 3 min
  • 0.5 oz UK Kent Goldings hops (7% aa) 3 min
  • 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (10.5% aa) dry hop (1 week)
  • WYeast 1028 London Ale

BEGIN BEER-NERD STUFF // Mash at 154 for 60 min – striking w/ 3.5 gal of 168F water.  Batch sparge w/ 4 gal of 168F water, collected about 6.2 gal of wort.  After 90 min boil, wound up with 4.5 gal of 1.063 wort. Pitched a big starter, aerated, sealed. // END BEER-NERD STUFF

Pretty simple brew day. I’ve got high hopes for this one.  Even though it’s supposed to be classified as a bitter, I think this should come a pretty balanced, pale ale style beer with nice some fruity/floral hop aromas.  I scaled back on the hops a little bit, and, I’ve never used Marris Otter before, but it smelled incredible while mashing.  Usually when I’m mashing with Pilsner, you get a very mild, bready, sweet aroma.  Nothing crazy. The Marris Otter just smelled so rich, caramel-y, bold, and awesome.

UPDATE:  After 6 days in the primary, the airlock had slowed to about one gulp per minute so I racked to the secondary. The gravity read 1.014, so already that’s a good start. Probably could’ve racked a day earlier and kept a little more residual sugar for some more body but this will be fine.  Color-wise, it’s a nice light brown / dark orange.  Aroma-wise a very nice fruity, floralness from the hops. But, believe it or not, the other main component of the aroma is coming from the Victory malt. It’s wild what just that little 10oz does; it has this amazing nutty, toasty character to it. In the future I might decrease this slightly (probably just to 8oz, it’s still great!), or just bump up the amount of Crystal malt to compensate. There’s also a pretty nice presence of booze in the smell (6.5% ABV).  Taste-wise, the bitterness is on point; not quite as bitter as a pale ale, but just right. Once again the Victory malt is noticeable in the taste and just has a nicely balanced caramel flavor.

THE VERDICT:

I love the smell of Amarillo. It’s really just awesome. The aroma is a good balance between malt and hop, with a little bias towards the dry-hopped Amarillo.  The taste of this beer is moderately bitter which is good for the style, but I’m not sure I like it that much.  It’s borderline Pale Ale/IPA.  The presence of Victory malt has gone away (after the dry-hopping), just now contributing to the overall malt flavor which is pretty nice;  bready, light caramel, very lightly roasted.. very English in my mind.  Dry hopping left a bunch of residual hop matter in the beer, so the first few pours had to be tossed. I honestly haven’t really grown fond of the whole dry-hopping technique.  I like it for extra aroma in strong IPAs, but in a beer like this it’s not my favorite.  Next time I will probably just add a hefty amount of hops at flameout or whirlpooling (something new I’m trying) to hopefully get a same hop-aroma effects without the vegetal-ness of dry-hopping in the secondary. Also, probably add some flaked wheat for head retention because honestly it is a little lacking. Overall pretty tasty, though!

 

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