Author Topic: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?  (Read 444 times)

Offline jamesbishop9

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Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« on: July 30, 2019, 06:41:24 PM »
Hello all,

I was originally planning on following Jamil’s “I’m not Bitter, I’m Thirsty” grain bill:
9.5# English Pale
.5# Aromatic
.5# C 120
.25# Special Roast


Firstly, 9.5# with 70% efficiency is too much. More like 7-8# for me.

After reading up on some specialty malt flavors I’m not so certain I want the sourdough like character of Special roast. I still want toasty biscuit and see recommendations for victory. Though I am also considering a healthy (or perhaps not so healthy) dosing of amber and possibly some carastan. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

7# Maris Otter
1# Amber
.25# C 120
1# Carastan
.75# Victory

Also want to try out fuggles rather than the EKG as fuggles is new to me and am curious. Recommendations this also welcomed.
1.5oz @ 60
.75 oz @ 20
.75 oz @ 1


All of which providing est. OG of 1.047, an ibu of around 35.6, and an SRM of 13.6.

Very much needing feedback as I’ve never used carastan, amber or victory, nor ever made a bitter!

All seems to be within parameters, I just don’t want too sweet? Too much raisin? Mild-moderate toffee sounds great, with a little caramel and a deep toasty biscuit flavor. Mashing @ 151?

Please and thank you to all!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 02:14:47 AM by jamesbishop9 »

Online BrewBama

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Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2019, 07:04:21 PM »
For me that’s too much character malt. I am a less is more kind of brewer. As is you have a ~70/30 base/character recipe. If it were me I’d shoot more for 80/20 or 90/10 if brewing an all malt Bitter. Note Jamil’s recipe: 87/13 base/character balance.

For example, with your ingredients I would increase the base to 9 lb, choose either Amber or Victory and reduce that one malt and the Carastan to .5 lb each. I am on the fence about the C120 — it might get the cut as well but at .25 I guess it could stay just for color.

...but that’s just me...

Whatever you decide — Cheers!



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« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 07:07:38 PM by BrewBama »
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Offline Robert

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Re: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 07:22:23 PM »
For me that’s too much character malt.

+1.  Especially as a real English bitter will typically contain nothing but pale malt and brewing sugar, also my standard.  If you're going by typical US style guidelines, those rarely have anything to do with the "real thing."  But like BrewBama said, that's just me.  I really like Fuggles, some find it too earthy.  That's me too.  Let us know what you decide on and how it turns out.  Cheers!
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Offline Richard

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Re: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 09:29:55 PM »
For me that’s too much character malt.

+1.  Especially as a real English bitter will typically contain nothing but pale malt and brewing sugar, also my standard.  If you're going by typical US style guidelines, those rarely have anything to do with the "real thing."  But like BrewBama said, that's just me.  I really like Fuggles, some find it too earthy.  That's me too.  Let us know what you decide on and how it turns out.  Cheers!

I agree, too. My ESB recipe is 90% base malt and 10% C60. I have used both EKG and Fuggles without any real preference for one over the other. I mash at 148 for a highly fermentable wort that finishes dry.
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Offline jamesbishop9

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Re: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 12:14:06 AM »
Thank you to all responses!

I’m curious of what potential consequences might arise from using such a high character malt percentage? Negative and/or positive.

Thanks in advance!

Online BrewBama

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Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 01:22:51 AM »
If you are an AHA member you can review past AHA presentations. One good one that addresses your question was presented in 2012 by Drew Beechum: Brewing on the Ones.

https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/seminar/brewing-on-the-ones/

My philosophy: use only what is necessary to reach your goal. Eliminate everything not required.  Base or combination of base malts to get bulk of maltiness and OG, limit character malts for color and flavors.

Potential consequences:

Neg = unfocused, muddled, dull

Pos = you might love it. Choice is absolutely yours.

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« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 02:19:18 AM by BrewBama »
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Online tommymorris

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Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2019, 02:44:30 AM »
Thank you to all responses!

I’m curious of what potential consequences might arise from using such a high character malt percentage? Negative and/or positive.

Thanks in advance!
When I drink homemade beer, especially when I am drinking alone, I want to sip the beer and ponder/appreciate the variety of flavors. With two malts I can distinguish between the contributions of each. As you add more malts and more hops things run together and it makes the beer hard to decipher.

That doesn’t mean your beer won’t be good. It might be great.

Your first recipe has a normal ratio specialty malts to base malt when measured by weight (although three different specialties would be a lot for me). Your second has a lot of specialty malts by weight and four different flavors to boot. The second one might be over the top with specialty flavors that don’t blend well together and which often are better in moderation.

Just my two cents...
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 02:46:28 AM by tommymorris »

Offline jamesbishop9

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Re: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2019, 06:20:13 AM »
Thanks again to all who have responded, after watching Drew’s presentation and listening to everyones’ feedback I’ve decided to just follow Jamil’s original recipe and see where that leads me. Less is more is a life lesson I am attempting to adopt.

Perhaps something I should pursue is brewing a few beers (maybe small batches) emphasizing some of these character malts to better understand their unique flavors? Say a batch of just Maris Otter and a decent amount of Amber, another with MO and decent amount of Carastan, etc, etc.

Any which way, thanks thanks again to all for taking the time.

Offline chinaski

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Re: Best Bitter - Grain Bill Ideas?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2019, 08:27:49 PM »
I think that this is a good plan.  I followed this path with Jamil's recipes and have tailored a number of them that I brew regularly.  Lots of ways to approach things- yours is one of many good ways to go.  Happy brewing!