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ESB Please advise

11 lbs Pale Ale Malt
1.75 lbs Crystal 80
.5 lbs Flaked Maize

Target .75 60 min
Challenger .50 15 min
EKGoldings .50 15 min
Northdown .50 15 min

Yeast WLP002 or Wyeast 1968

It is a little heavy on the crystal, but I say go for it.

I have heard of people using corn in their ESB and it surprised me. I make a lot of bitters and I like UK Pale Malt, some Thomas Fawcett & Sons Dark Crystal #1 and torrified wheat as the grain bill. The TF&S crystal is outstanding and has a deep amber-red color and a very nice flavor. I think your recipe will be okay but that’s a lot of crystal malt and if it’s American crystal you may be missing out on a good English ingredient. Hops look great and your yeast choice is great too. Cheers.

Ps. Take a look at your water and see if using some gypsum is a good idea. I typically spike my mash water with 2-3 grams of gypsum to boost the calcium and also create that mildly spiky profile that brings out the hops. Cheers.

I have never added anything to my water before but I have read about making additions to water especially for an ESB. This is something that goes right in with the mash? Do all water treatments go in with the mash?

Also, I was wondering how people go about finding specific grains: say the English variety etc? I pretty much get what is offered at my LHBS which is normally Briess.

[quote=“murphdog”]I have never added anything to my water before but I have read about making additions to water especially for an ESB. This is something that goes right in with the mash? Do all water treatments go in with the mash?

Also, I was wondering how people go about finding specific grains: say the English variety etc? I pretty much get what is offered at my LHBS which is normally Briess.[/quote]
I make my additions to the mash. Some people also like to add to sprage and/or brew kettle but I’m mash only. I kind of hate to bring up water because it has taken me a long time just to get the most basic grasp of it. But different styles benefit from different water profiles and I have been working with RO water and building proper water for each batch and it’s working nicely.

On the grains, I have always just grabbed whatever I could find as well and the beer was fine. But I am stepping back and looking closer at what grains I use for each style. On my English beers, I used to use a product referred to as British Crystal 55L which is usually easy to find. This is an English product and may be better than just a domestic crystal. The array of grains available to homebrewers now is dizzying and new ones keep coming out. I was at one of my LHBSs and they keep expanding their supplies so I saw this Thomas Fawcett & Sons crystal. When I make a pilsner, I look for good German varieties as opposed to Rahr, for example. I like Rahr 2-row for things like Pale Ales but using a European grain for a European beer will probably get you closer to what you envisioned. Same goes for Munich, Vienna, an English Pale Malt, etc. Here’s a bitter I made with this TF&S crystal… check out how red it is:

That is an awesome looking beer! It’s making me thirsty for a Friday treat!

Thanks for the info especially on the water treatment.

Does anyone dry hop their ESBs? I was toying around with dry hopping this one…

Yes i through .5-1 oz of EKGs in my ESBs

I can’t see an issue with dry-hopping an ESB. I typically don’t but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. I ordinarily go 60-15-5 and use hops like Kent, Styrian Goldings, EKG, etc. and I am usually between 35 and 40 IBUs. Cheers and good luck with the ESB… one of my favorite styles for sure.

a big +1 to everyone that mentioned the use of a british crystal malt. American (briess) 60L is just not the same.

Agreed. Even all English Malts are not the same. For comparison, below is an example of an English Ale I made with British Crystal 55°L. Yes, nice but not quite as good (both visually and taste-wise) as the version made with TF&S Dark Crystal #1.

I often use some corn in mine, up to 15% or so…as well as some sugar.
My ESB didn’t taste authentic (judged against my favorite UK commercial brews) until I started using those adjuncts in the recipe.
I’m pretty sure I remember being told that Fuller’s uses some corn in the grist for their ESB (can anyone here definitively confirm or deny? I’d be curious…).

In any case, that’s why I always get a chuckle out of Greg Koch’s braggy quote- “…we don’t use corn in our beer.”
Maybe he should start. :mrgreen:

murphdog, I’m going to echo a lot of the comments already made. Strongly agree that you should seek out British malts to brew this beer. There is a depth and mellowness to the malt flavor in a UK ESB that cannot be duplicated using domestic malts. Flaked maize is fine and you might even consider using a little more than 3%. There is a long history of the use of adjuncts in many British ales and as long as you keep the total to 10% or less they can certainly contribute to an “authentic” flavor as The Professor suggested. As to the crystal malt I usually keep the addition to ~5% although I have gone as high as 15% in this particular style. However, that would be using a 55L and I do think the 13%+ here of 80L is too much. The other thing I would mention is to do a 90 minute boil. It seems inconsequential but it was one of the things about the traditional UK method that finally put my bitters/ESB where I wanted them to be.

Below is one of my favorite ESB recipes. It is based on the old Fuller’s recipe in Roger Protz" book on British ales which I then tweaked a little.

Fuller’s (style) ESB

10 Gallons Est OG 1.056 IBU 38

16.25 lb UK pale malt
.5 lb Crystal 55L
1.25 lb flaked maize
1 oz chocolate malt

90 minute hops:
1 oz Northern Brewer
1 oz Challenger

15 minute hops:
1.5 oz East Kent Goldings


Thanks for the great suggestions! I’m going to try to put them to good use tomorrow and will report back on the results!

The other tricky thing here is picking a yeast. 1968, 1098, 1099, 1028, 1026, 1469, 1318, 1275, 002, 005, 007, 023 and the list goes on. I really like 1968 and I also like 1099 Whitbread. I just made a batch of ESB with 1028 which I also like. Add all of these plus the various platinum strains that come out every so often and it’s entirely too many English yeasts to choose from! Cheers.

I do not really like Whitbread 1099 (I do like it in a stout) in an ESB. Other than 1968 the two I’ve had make the best beer are 1275 Thames Valley and 1469.

1968 is a great yeast for an ESB. I have used it almost exclusively for my house ESB that I like to keep on tap. My recipe also utilizes some flaked corn. I think its a good way to give it a little kick without over doing the body of the beer.

+1 concerning the 1469 Yorkshire. It makes a great ESB and a Stout. Try this yeast while it is available.

I think that is too much crystal, and I would use English malts and hops. (as others suggest)

11 pounds of grain seems a little over the top too – I think you would be out of style with your ABV, if you care about that sort of thing. (But I have not ran the numbers, just guessing – I use about 8 pounds total grain for my ESB)

I’d add more bittering hops to get that first ESB punch in.

I use only Simpson Malts (8 lbs Golden Promise, 4 oz Extra Dark Crystal, 12 oz sugar) and 1968. However, 1469 is now available and as others have said that is completely awesome! I am going to make an ESB using it and then try a stout.

Mash low to make it dry.

And yes, my ESB recipe is a total ripoff of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, but why reinvent the perfect ESB wheel.

I made some changes to my recipe and right now it tastes good but I am looking to make more changes which were suggested: I am looking into using the Thomas Facett and Sons grains for my second try at the ESB. Can anyone tell me the difference between the Pearl, Halycon and Optic and which you might prefer?

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