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Bitter Grist

I’m putting together a very simple grain bill for a best bitter that I should be making in the next few weeks.

Right now it looks like:

9.5kg Pale Ale
.5 kg Crystal 60l
.5 kg Crystal 120l

46l Batch
Wyeast ESB
IBU - 22ish.

My question here would be will the 120l overpower the 60l flavorwise? I do want some nice malt flavor but I want a little of those caramel notes to come through.

Have no problem moving the 120l down to .25kg, but I want as much color as I can get while keeping it balanced.

Best way to know for sure is to test it out. Either way I’m sure it will be good. I personally like using the English Medium/Dark Crystals with an MO base for my bitters.

My access to specific malts is somewhat limited.

My Pale Ale will be Marris Otter

My only other crystal option is Carastan 30l. Since I have used this so much in the past I want to leave it out for the sake of trying new things.

My main point is to get that 60l coming through. So I probably will bring the 120l down a bit. My total crystal will be something like 7-8% I imagine. At my orriginal #s it was closer to 9.5%

With the 120l how much (if any) caramel-sweetness would come out compared to a roastiness?

A little of the dark 120L crystals goes a long way IMO. I’d start with no more than 250g, see how you like it and adjust up or down on the next batch.

Thanks for the input. I am definately leaning toward that approach.

I think a 50/50 blend of the two crystals is fine, but you don’t want the total crystal to be more than 10% of your total grain bill.

I think your hops are low. Shoot for 30 IBU minimum if you want a bitter. I think 20-22 is at the top of the mild category, but still in mild territory. I usually try to get 35-40 IBU for a beer in the 1.045-55 range.

[quote=“SA Brew”]I think a 50/50 blend of the two crystals is fine, but you don’t want the total crystal to be more than 10% of your total grain bill.

I think your hops are low. Shoot for 30 IBU minimum if you want a bitter. I think 20-22 is at the top of the mild category, but still in mild territory. I usually try to get 35-40 IBU for a beer in the 1.045-55 range.[/quote]

Yep. I likely will boost the bitterness a little. I’m not that concerned about being exactly within specs, and my last few attempts I found a little more bitter than I like.

Will probably shoot for something between 25-30, expecting my gravity in the 42-44 range.

Will you be using English crystal malts, or American/North American? Personally, if I couldn’t get English Crystal Malts for this recipe, I’d back off of both of them, to give the MO a little more room to shine. Otherwise, I’d be too worried that the beer would turn out too “American” for my tastes.

Will you be using English crystal malts, or American/North American? Personally, if I couldn’t get English Crystal Malts for this recipe, I’d back off of both of them, to give the MO a little more room to shine. Otherwise, I’d be too worried that the beer would turn out too “American” for my tastes.[/quote]

Good question. I think they are both English, but I’ll double check. I know the 120 is Pauls. Do you know where that is from.

Never used it but I’m pretty sure that Pauls is from England. You’ll probably be fine with whatever ratio/amount you choose.

If you want a true authentic english bitter:

~90% english pale malt
~5-7% english medium or light crystal
~5-7% torrified wheat

-Bittered with Magnum (< not english but common) or Target or Challenger or other high alpha english variety. around 30-35 IBU

-addition at 5 mins with Goldings, fuggles, brambling cross, or brewers gold (or a blend of a couple).

While i was in England i got the opportunity to talk to many brewers and see a lot of bitter recipes. 99% of their recipes (from many different breweries) consisted of some variation of the above recipe.

That being said, I’ve found that 99% of american versions are fairly different (and better IMO)

good luck! looks like you’re on the right track with your current plan

[quote=“S.Scoggin”]If you want a true authentic english bitter:

~90% english pale malt
~5-7% english medium or light crystal
~5-7% torrified wheat

-Bittered with Magnum (< not english but common) or Target or Challenger or other high alpha english variety. around 30-35 IBU

-addition at 5 mins with Goldings, fuggles, brambling cross, or brewers gold (or a blend of a couple).

While i was in England i got the opportunity to talk to many brewers and see a lot of bitter recipes. 99% of their recipes (from many different breweries) consisted of some variation of the above recipe.

That being said, I’ve found that 99% of american versions are fairly different (and better IMO)

good luck! looks like you’re on the right track with your current plan[/quote]

Unfortunately the torrified wheat would be a problem to find or else I would likely try it out. I have tried using flaked barley (which I have seen within the style range) but it ended up affecting clarity.

I do like your suggestion for hop additions (timeframe). That was one other point where I had not really decided fully. I have a bunch of EKG and fuggles which I may have to use for bittering as well. Some of the higher alpha UK hops will be hard to track down where I am.

If those are your on hand hops you’re good to go. I personally don’t care for fuggle so I would use those as bittering. I use KGs for my late additions for bitters. You don’t really need high alpha hops because you don’t need many IBUs

I plan to use as much KG as I have on hand, and the Fuggles as a backup. I haven’t weighed my stash yet. May not even need the Fuggle.

From the reading I have done lately, the EKG would be the prefered choice for bitters, whereas the Fuggles might be used more in darker english beers - like Brown Ale’s for instance.

I actually don’t mind the extra pungency I find in Fuggles, but for this batch I want the hop flavor on the subtle side so the crystal malt comes through as well.

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