Back to Shopping at

Ordinary Bitter - low carbonation?

Hi everyone,

I brewed my first ordinary bitter a couple weeks ago. Seems to be done fermenting. Dropped from 1.046 to 1.010 and has been there for a few days now. I plan on bottling it this weekend so I looked up the priming recommendations for this style and I was surprised to see 1.5 vols of CO2. I checked other sources too and saw the same number. I guess it just caught me off guard, so I’m wondering if everyone else carbs their bitters this low, and is it good? Does anyone carb their bitters higher? My lower gravity brews are typically highly carbonated (around 2.5 - 2.8 vols) but this is my first time making a bitter so I’m new to the style.


Yes, carb it low and drink it warm. Just like the Brits do.

Bitters are one of my favorite beers to brew. I would usually carb lower, but I also like to serve them on Nitro some of the time. When I serve on CO2 I carb them a little higher, but still lower than for other beers.

Hard to get the British style down completely. Remember they would be casking and serving on a beer engine, which in itself adds to the character of the beer.

If you are a little hesitant to go that low, I would say drop down to about 1.8-2.0 or so and see how it works for you.

Usually with an ordinary bitter you would want to avoid the gas overpowering a fairly light beer. your gravity suggests the upper range of ordinary, if not a best bitter. So you may be able to handle a few extra volumes of CO2 if desired.

I carb mine pretty low, trying to represent some of the feel of having a cask beer. I’ve gone as low as 1 volume, but that’s personal preference.

bear in mind you can always carb it a bit higher and knock out some carbonation with a straw/spoon/device of your choosing when you serve it. You can take away carbonation, but cannot add it once the beer is packaged.

I agree though, I like them around 1.5-2 volumes, and around 45-50* maximum @ serving.

Thanks for all the input, everyone. I appreciate it. I’ll be bottling it this evening and decided I’ll aim for 1.5 vols as recommended, just so I can try to get as close to the real experience as possible. If it’s not my thing, I can always carb my next bitter a little more.

If you had some of those carb tabs you could add 1 to a few bottles, 2 to a few more, etc., and see how you like more carbonation before higher carbing a full batch.

One of the prime benefits to low carbonation rates in bitters is that it allows you to be more aggressive with your bittering hops. 1oz of bittering hops at normal US carbonation rates will swing a bitter out of balance, in my opinion. I think this is why you see bitter recipes kinda balkanized between recipes that call for very low bittering additions and others that hop at a more normal rate/gravity.

Also, very low carbonation rates make low gravity beers like ordinary bitters and milds feel much bigger in the mouth without having to resort to super high mash temps and other techniques that have blow-back effects that shift the recipe out of balance.

I spend the bulk of my time below 1.040 these days and I’m constantly amazed at how minor shifts in carbonation can radically change a small beer.

A little bit late to this party but I no longer even carbonate my bitters anymore. I serve them from a polypin via a beer engine. When I first started serving them from the poly, I primed them to about 1 to 1.5 volumes. That was fine for treating it like a cask and serving directly from the pin via the spigot. But when I attached a beer engine with a sparkler, I found that the sparkler really knocks most of the CO2 out of solution anyway.

If I were to bottle or keg a bitter, I would shoot for around 1.5 to 2 volumes of CO2. A lot of this comes down to personal preference.

keep it low, serving warm no, but probably around 45-55 for how I like them, I keep a majortiy of my beers on the low end, even lower than styles suggest.


Back to Shopping at