Author Topic: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions  (Read 9732 times)

Offline erockrph

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #30 on: May 13, 2016, 06:40:04 pm »
I don't know what my LHBS charges for torrified wheat, but MAN is it easy to make!!! (for about $0.95/lb)

Using an air popper, put in ~3/4 cup soft white wheat berries, turned it on, and the berries were popping in about 1 minute and done popping about 15 seconds later. Gave it anywhere from 15-30 seconds more after the popping finished up and hit a nice flavor level (15 seconds was on the not-enough side [flavor is like the soft interior of bread], and 30 was on the maybe-too-much side [toasted character is like dark munich but wheat not barley], 20-25 would be about right [like lightly toasted bread before any dark spots appear]).  I snacked on a bunch because they're pretty tasty with a nice soft crunch/pop factor.

Before and after:


Edit: I must add, prior to this talk about "torrified wheat" I was under the impression that it was simply expanded raw wheat such that the starches were more accessible to the enzymes in the mash so it didn't require any extra steps to use.  I thought it was the equivalent to (almost exactly like) flaked wheat, but it a different form - I didn't realize the berries went through any kind of toasting phase.  After reading this thread, and then Candi Syrup's write-up on it (pdf link), I realized how mistaken I was (for the first time in my life :D).  Which lead me down the rabbit hole that lead to the picture I posted above. I bake lots of different bread so I happened to have some soft white wheat berries readily available, but I suspect hard red wheat berries would work much the same (although they may take a little extra time and give a little different flavor).
Awesome! I think my wife's air popper is still packed up somewhere from when we moved to this house. I am TOTALLY going to try this soon. I just made my own caramel malt recently, so this is the next obvious step. I wonder if steel-cut oats would work with this process as well.
Eric B.

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Offline dilluh98

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #31 on: May 13, 2016, 07:04:21 pm »
A local brewery makes an american amber ale that drinks just like an ESB. My wife and I never thought we'd get so excited about an amber ale but it's almost a constant in our fridge because of the excellent balance it has.
Are you talking about Thirsty Goat? Just curious because I saw you're in TX and feel the same way about that one.

Nope. Circle Brewing's Envy Amber.

Offline blair.streit

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #32 on: May 13, 2016, 07:18:11 pm »
A local brewery makes an american amber ale that drinks just like an ESB. My wife and I never thought we'd get so excited about an amber ale but it's almost a constant in our fridge because of the excellent balance it has.
Are you talking about Thirsty Goat? Just curious because I saw you're in TX and feel the same way about that one.

Nope. Circle Brewing's Envy Amber.
Nice. I'll have it give that one another shot in light of the ESB comparison. I had it once when they first started packaging it but I've forgotten what it tastes like.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #33 on: May 13, 2016, 07:35:14 pm »
ESB is not a British style.  ESB is an offering by Fullers.  In the UK, one will see the adjectives "standard" and "best" used in front of the word bitter.   Any brewer who is basing British ale on what he/she has received in bottles on this side of the pond is making a major mistake.   

I do not know if anyone has picked up on it, but charles1968 is British.  My experience with a few non-Thames Valley Brewlab strains and Alan Pugsley's comments on Ringwood being considered a neutral strain in the UK bear witness to charles1968's comments.  I remember the first time that I used Brewlab's Somerset 1.  I stressed the yeast cells, and they treated me to a level of ethyl heptanoate that I have never witnessed with any of the strains that we can obtain in the United States.  One of my children commented that the beer smelled like cheap wine (yes, the batch was a dumper).  A lot British strains are POF+ (phenolic off-flavor positive) as well, which is something that we normally associate with Belgian strains.  I used the Devon 1 strain from Brewlab exactly one time because it threw phenolic spice, banana, and sulfur. 

With that said, anyone who is seriously interested in learning how to brew British-style ale should pick up a copy of the CAMRA book entitled "Brew Your Own British Real Ale" (http://www.amazon.com/CAMRAs-Brew-Your-British-Real/dp/1852493194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463188187&sr=1-1&keywords=%22Brew+Your+Own+British+Real+Ale%22).  I purchased an older copy of the book in the late nineties (the edition with the white cover), and it was an eye opening experience.  That's where I picked up the technique of using colored malt instead of crystal malt to color a bitter.  I understand that Graham Wheeler has improved the accuracy of the recipes in the later editions.  American home brewers need to go into this process with an open mind. British brewers use sugar and non-malted adjuncts like flaked maize and torrified wheat (I picked up the use of torrified wheat from a defunct Peter Austin designed/Alan Pugsley installed microbrewery called Wild Goose).  Beers that you thought were all malt are often not.  Many British brewing practices are the result of taxation.

The overuse of crystal malt is the number one mistake that Americans make when attempting to create British-style ale, and that mistake is the result of drinking old bottled British ale.  BJCP judges often make the mistake of stating that a beer needs more caramel malt when judging Category 8 because of lack of easy access to fresh authenticate British-style bitter. 

Here's part of a review from Amazon:

"I originally purchased this book because I have been making more of an attempt to brew more sessionable low gravity ales, and no one does it better than the British. I mainly purchased this for recipe related inspiration, and in this respect the book is great - there are over 100 different recipes that are claimed to be clones of commercially available beers, presented in primarily all-grain recipes, but they have extract equivalents as well. I have yet to try any of the recipes, so I cannot vouch for their authenticity or accuracy - personally, most seemed to be very low on Crystal malt usage, but without actually trying them, it is difficult to judge fairly."



Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #34 on: May 13, 2016, 10:10:36 pm »
ESB is not a British style.  ESB is an offering by Fullers.  In the UK, one will see the adjectives "standard" and "best" used in front of the word bitter.   Any brewer who is basing British ale on what he/she has received in bottles on this side of the pond is making a major mistake.   

I do not know if anyone has picked up on it, but charles1968 is British.  My experience with a few non-Thames Valley Brewlab strains and Alan Pugsley's comments on Ringwood being considered a neutral strain in the UK bear witness to charles1968's comments.  I remember the first time that I used Brewlab's Somerset 1.  I stressed the yeast cells, and they treated me to a level of ethyl heptanoate that I have never witnessed with any of the strains that we can obtain in the United States.  One of my children commented that the beer smelled like cheap wine (yes, the batch was a dumper).  A lot British strains are POF+ (phenolic off-flavor positive) as well, which is something that we normally associate with Belgian strains.  I used the Devon 1 strain from Brewlab exactly one time because it threw phenolic spice, banana, and sulfur. 

With that said, anyone who is seriously interested in learning how to brew British-style ale should pick up a copy of the CAMRA book entitled "Brew Your Own British Real Ale" (http://www.amazon.com/CAMRAs-Brew-Your-British-Real/dp/1852493194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463188187&sr=1-1&keywords=%22Brew+Your+Own+British+Real+Ale%22).  I purchased an older copy of the book in the late nineties (the edition with the white cover), and it was an eye opening experience.  That's where I picked up the technique of using colored malt instead of crystal malt to color a bitter.  I understand that Graham Wheeler has improved the accuracy of the recipes in the later editions.  American home brewers need to go into this process with an open mind. British brewers use sugar and non-malted adjuncts like flaked maize and torrified wheat (I picked up the use of torrified wheat from a defunct Peter Austin designed/Alan Pugsley installed microbrewery called Wild Goose).  Beers that you thought were all malt are often not.  Many British brewing practices are the result of taxation.

The overuse of crystal malt is the number one mistake that Americans make when attempting to create British-style ale, and that mistake is the result of drinking old bottled British ale.  BJCP judges often make the mistake of stating that a beer needs more caramel malt when judging Category 8 because of lack of easy access to fresh authenticate British-style bitter. 

Here's part of a review from Amazon:

"I originally purchased this book because I have been making more of an attempt to brew more sessionable low gravity ales, and no one does it better than the British. I mainly purchased this for recipe related inspiration, and in this respect the book is great - there are over 100 different recipes that are claimed to be clones of commercially available beers, presented in primarily all-grain recipes, but they have extract equivalents as well. I have yet to try any of the recipes, so I cannot vouch for their authenticity or accuracy - personally, most seemed to be very low on Crystal malt usage, but without actually trying them, it is difficult to judge fairly."
After having Fuller's London Pride and ESB in bottles in the US, then having on cask in the UK, I don't have the bottles anymore as they are stale oxidized messes.
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Offline dilluh98

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #35 on: May 14, 2016, 06:26:37 am »
ESB is not a British style.  ESB is an offering by Fullers.  In the UK, one will see the adjectives "standard" and "best" used in front of the word bitter.   Any brewer who is basing British ale on what he/she has received in bottles on this side of the pond is making a major mistake.   


Good to know. I always took ESB to mean 'extra strong bitter' or 'extra special bitter' as a heirarchal designation of the third strongest of the bitters. Is 'English Pale Ale' then just a catch all phrase or does it designate a sub-style?

Offline charles1968

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #36 on: May 14, 2016, 07:46:03 am »
I do not know if anyone has picked up on it, but charles1968 is British.

Yep, grew up in the north of England but currently live in London. I'm certainly no expert at brewing English styles but I've drunk lots of them over the years. London beers not the best. I think they're overrated outside the UK because the "London" brand gives them undeserved cachet.

With that said, anyone who is seriously interested in learning how to brew British-style ale should pick up a copy of the CAMRA book entitled "Brew Your Own British Real Ale" (http://www.amazon.com/CAMRAs-Brew-Your-British-Real/dp/1852493194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463188187&sr=1-1&keywords=%22Brew+Your+Own+British+Real+Ale%22).  I purchased an older copy of the book in the late nineties (the edition with the white cover), and it was an eye opening experience.  That's where I picked up the technique of using colored malt instead of crystal malt to color a bitter.  I understand that Graham Wheeler has improved the accuracy of the recipes in the later editions.  American home brewers need to go into this process with an open mind. British brewers use sugar and non-malted adjuncts like flaked maize and torrified wheat (I picked up the use of torrified wheat from a defunct Peter Austin designed/Alan Pugsley installed microbrewery called Wild Goose).  Beers that you thought were all malt are often not.  Many British brewing practices are the result of taxation.

The overuse of crystal malt is the number one mistake that Americans make when attempting to create British-style ale, and that mistake is the result of drinking old bottled British ale.  BJCP judges often make the mistake of stating that a beer needs more caramel malt when judging Category 8 because of lack of easy access to fresh authenticate British-style bitter. 

Here's part of a review from Amazon:

"I originally purchased this book because I have been making more of an attempt to brew more sessionable low gravity ales, and no one does it better than the British. I mainly purchased this for recipe related inspiration, and in this respect the book is great - there are over 100 different recipes that are claimed to be clones of commercially available beers, presented in primarily all-grain recipes, but they have extract equivalents as well. I have yet to try any of the recipes, so I cannot vouch for their authenticity or accuracy - personally, most seemed to be very low on Crystal malt usage, but without actually trying them, it is difficult to judge fairly."


The Graham Wheeler book is a good source of recipes. Most are his take on the beer, rather than the actual recipe. Note that CAMRA, who endorse the Wheeler book, are great believers in cask-conditioning or bottle conditioning over pasteurizing and force carbonating. Most bottled English beers are pasteurized and force carbed and lose a lot of character. The Real Ale Alamanac by Roger Protz is another great reference for English styles with literally hundreds of recipes obtained direct from breweries over the years by Protz.

Offline charles1968

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #37 on: May 14, 2016, 07:59:43 am »
ESB is not a British style.  ESB is an offering by Fullers.  In the UK, one will see the adjectives "standard" and "best" used in front of the word bitter.   Any brewer who is basing British ale on what he/she has received in bottles on this side of the pond is making a major mistake.   


Good to know. I always took ESB to mean 'extra strong bitter' or 'extra special bitter' as a heirarchal designation of the third strongest of the bitters. Is 'English Pale Ale' then just a catch all phrase or does it designate a sub-style?

I would say English pale ale is a catch-all for bitter and mild (but we don't really tend to refer to beers as "ales" here, a bit like Germans not calling beers "lager"). Best/special/IPA are all slightly stronger varieties of bitter. The boundaries are very blurred. Some IPAs are as weak as standard bitter. American IPAs are a very different beast.

A couple more oddities in the BJCP style guides are southern English brown and northern English brown. I'm not sure they really exist as styles here, though if you hunted far and wide you might find enough obscure beers to justify the categories. The only widespread brown ale is Newcastle Brown.

A new category that you might see a lot in English pubs is golden ale, which is basically bitter without caramel malt. Often has US style hops. American pale ales and the best English bitters or golden ales are pretty close in my opinion, though APAs lean towards hop flavour more than yeast. Lots of UK English bitter drinkers love APAs, me included.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2016, 08:03:23 am by charles1968 »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #38 on: May 14, 2016, 08:33:43 am »
ESB is not a British style.  ESB is an offering by Fullers.  In the UK, one will see the adjectives "standard" and "best" used in front of the word bitter.   Any brewer who is basing British ale on what he/she has received in bottles on this side of the pond is making a major mistake.   


Good to know. I always took ESB to mean 'extra strong bitter' or 'extra special bitter' as a heirarchal designation of the third strongest of the bitters. Is 'English Pale Ale' then just a catch all phrase or does it designate a sub-style?

I would say English pale ale is a catch-all for bitter and mild (but we don't really tend to refer to beers as "ales" here, a bit like Germans not calling beers "lager"). Best/special/IPA are all slightly stronger varieties of bitter. The boundaries are very blurred. Some IPAs are as weak as standard bitter. American IPAs are a very different beast.

A couple more oddities in the BJCP style guides are southern English brown and northern English brown. I'm not sure they really exist as styles here, though if you hunted far and wide you might find enough obscure beers to justify the categories. The only widespread brown ale is Newcastle Brown.

A new category that you might see a lot in English pubs is golden ale, which is basically bitter without caramel malt. Often has US style hops. American pale ales and the best English bitters or golden ales are pretty close in my opinion, though APAs lean towards hop flavour more than yeast. Lots of UK English bitter drinkers love APAs, me included.
The 2015 guidelines have Brown Ale, the distinction from North to South has been dropped. There is a Historic London Brown guideline with two examples.

The Golden ale is in the 2015 guidelines, and is when up much as you describe it. Several years back I had an Oakham JHB, and became aware of the style.

Fuller's ESB is trademarked in the UK, noted in the 2015 guidelines.  Not every brewery has the range Bitter, Best Bitter, Strong Bitter. Fuller's has Chiswick (3.5%), London Pride (4.1%), and ESB (5.5%). Another Strong Bitter would be Gales' HSB at 4.8%, which is now brewed by Fullers after the purchase of Gales. There are many commercial examples listed for Strong Bitter.

Since I had to study for the BJCP exam last Saturday, I was aware of these changes. Just saying.

Jeff Rankert
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BJCP National
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
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Offline stpug

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #39 on: May 14, 2016, 08:49:02 am »
Awesome! I think my wife's air popper is still packed up somewhere from when we moved to this house. I am TOTALLY going to try this soon. I just made my own caramel malt recently, so this is the next obvious step. I wonder if steel-cut oats would work with this process as well.

After the success I had with the wheat berries, I decided to do a half pound of rye berries for a saison I have planned.  The rye took a little longer (maybe 30 more seconds) to pop, which gave it more time toasting and lead to something in the ballpark of victory malt.  More toast that I'd like but still a success - Torrified Rye!

I'm sure oat groats (and probably steelcut) would work the same.

Offline Hand of Dom

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #40 on: May 14, 2016, 09:19:15 am »
Yep, grew up in the north of England but currently live in London. I'm certainly no expert at brewing English styles but I've drunk lots of them over the years. London beers not the best. I think they're overrated outside the UK because the "London" brand gives them undeserved cachet.


Best bitters I've had have mostly come from Yorkshire/NE Midlands.
Dom

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Offline charles1968

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #41 on: May 14, 2016, 09:24:56 am »
The 2015 guidelines have Brown Ale, the distinction from North to South has been dropped. There is a Historic London Brown guideline with two examples.

The Golden ale is in the 2015 guidelines, and is when up much as you describe it. Several years back I had an Oakham JHB, and became aware of the style.

Fuller's ESB is trademarked in the UK, noted in the 2015 guidelines.  Not every brewery has the range Bitter, Best Bitter, Strong Bitter. Fuller's has Chiswick (3.5%), London Pride (4.1%), and ESB (5.5%). Another Strong Bitter would be Gales' HSB at 4.8%, which is now brewed by Fullers after the purchase of Gales. There are many commercial examples listed for Strong Bitter.

Since I had to study for the BJCP exam last Saturday, I was aware of these changes. Just saying.

Interesting - it sounds like the BJCP has ironed out all the problems. Incidentally, if you like the Fullers beers you can harvest the primary yeast from some of their bottle-conditioned beers, e.g. Bengal Lancer & 1845.

Offline charles1968

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #42 on: May 14, 2016, 09:28:13 am »
Yep, grew up in the north of England but currently live in London. I'm certainly no expert at brewing English styles but I've drunk lots of them over the years. London beers not the best. I think they're overrated outside the UK because the "London" brand gives them undeserved cachet.


Best bitters I've had have mostly come from Yorkshire/NE Midlands.

Yorkshire beers are great. I remember the first time I had Timothy Taylor Landlord. Have tried to recreate it with Wyeast W. yorkshire yeast but wasn't quite like the real thing.

Offline Phil_M

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #43 on: May 14, 2016, 11:04:23 am »
Concerning crystal malt in bitters, a recent attempt at a pale mild yielded a beer that fit neatly in the "special bitter" range. No crystal malt was used, but the beer did have a heavy percentage of invert no. 3 in the grist. The resulting beer had a subtle hard caramel candy flavor, without any of the other crystal malt flavors. The beer was excellent, I plan on using invert/no crystal malt in more bitters this summer.

This beer was used in the beer swap, here's brewinhard's review:
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=26129.msg345548#msg345548
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline dilluh98

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Re: British Ordinary Bitter critique & suggestions
« Reply #44 on: May 15, 2016, 06:47:54 am »
Concerning crystal malt in bitters, a recent attempt at a pale mild yielded a beer that fit neatly in the "special bitter" range. No crystal malt was used, but the beer did have a heavy percentage of invert no. 3 in the grist. The resulting beer had a subtle hard caramel candy flavor, without any of the other crystal malt flavors. The beer was excellent, I plan on using invert/no crystal malt in more bitters this summer.

This beer was used in the beer swap, here's brewinhard's review:
https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=26129.msg345548#msg345548

Now you've peaked my interest. Do you or anyone else have a decent protocol/recipe for making invert #3 at home? I thought I saw a recipe a while back but I can't find it at the moment.