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Bottle conditioning my ESBs take forever!

Riddle me this,

Why does it take my ESB’s over 3 months in the bottles to peak enough where it actually tastes just as good as commercial examples. After a month in the bottles they are carbonated but that Maris Otter base malt flavor is non existence until 3-4 months. If you ever had fuller’s ESB or London pride that nutty malty rich character takes forever to develop me. It seems like these commercial guys can pull this flavor off within 1 month. I just don’t get it. I tried a few ESB recipes and I cant get the maturation process to speed up. I really dont enjoy a good ESB until that malt character is in your face and i dont want to wait that long!!! LOL

Any suggestions on process or recipe formulation that may shorten the conditioning stage?

Most of my recipes are 90% Maris Otter malt and a dash of crystal. and I used Wyeast 1968 and London Ale III 1318. I use about 3 oz of hops per 5.5 gallon batch 1oz Target(bittering) and 2oz Northdown(flavor/aroma) hops at 9.5AA

This has been my experience as well. FWIW, in my two years of brewing I have never come across a beer that I thought was ready less than 8 weeks from brew day (although I typically don’t brew overly hoppy beers). I’ve come to expect (and plan) that 8 weeks is the bare minimum for ales up to 1.060; anything over that or anything that is dry hopped will get at least three months before drinking (more for high gravity beers and lagers).

I tend to cheat and add a bit of Biscuit malt. I’ve also found that I really like Wyeast 1469 (West Yorkshire) for a bitter.

The other things you might try to bring the malt forward:

  • Cut back a bit on late hop editions
  • Ensure the chloride:sulfate ratio in your brewing water favors chloride

Might consider using a secondary (if you don’t already) and letting it condition in there for a month or so. Bulk conditioning works faster than bottle conditioning.

Some things just take time. Remember, those ESBs have spent quite a bit of time in the bottle as it gets shipped overseas, so you should expect to do a bit of aging to get a similar flavor profile.

I was thinking the same thing the other day. The question is, though, what are they meant to taste like? What do they taste like when they’re fresh in the UK? Often when sampling an imported ESB, I’ve thought they taste past their prime.

I’ve experienced the same thing. I brewed an ESB back in Sept '11. I just finished off the last bottle about a week ago and it was fantastic. The first few months the beer was just ok, but nothing special. After 8-10 months, it turned into a really good beer. Wish I had more :cry:

Having had a few examples of “real ale” straight from the cask in the UK, I can say the flavor profile when its fresh is definitely not the same as examples readily available in the states. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try any of the same brands I’m familiar with here so its not apples to apples.

Regardless of whether its intentional or not doesn’t really matter though, if that flavor is something you enjoy, aging is the way to get it. The same is true of many german lagers imho. There’s a certain character to the maltiness that seems to only come on with age.

Yep, agreed. Based on feedback in this thread, aging is the key to achieving the commercial flavor profile (assuming you’ve got a good recipe, water profile, etc.). Meanwhile, I’ll be brewing and drinking mine fast since I’m one of the oddballs who likes it better fresh.

I had the same experience with an English brown ale. I finished the last bottle nearly a year after I brewed it and it was great. Also wish I had more. :cry:

I had the same experience with an English brown ale. I finished the last bottle nearly a year after I brewed it and it was great. Also wish I had more. :cry: [/quote]

This reminds me, I have a nut brown ale that I brewed right about the same time as my ESB. Wasn’t bad, wasn’t great. I have at least a case still sitting around. May be time to chill and crack a few open! :smiley:

Might be the hopping rate is a little above something balanced. Time will lower the bitterness and hop flavor. I know my bitters are tasty early on, I keep the bitterness on the low side of the spectrum though. The one other thing would be to keep the carbonation fairly low and serve it at 55F.

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