I am not advocating for no crystal, I plan on a lot of bitters and other English pale ales in my future, and some will certainly have crystal. I do encourage folks to try it without however, it’s amazing what a full bodied low abv beer you can make without it with English yeast strains and what I currently have on tap without crystal is my favorite so far.
The right malt goes a long way too. And bitter without crystal - or at least far less than foreigners think should be used - has a long history in Northern England going back to the 19th century
, with (real, not Pub) Boddington's
Personally, I like a bit of English crystal in my bitters. I use about 5-7% and I lean to the darker side.
I always go with a bit of crystal, never over 10%
That comes down to taste and region - Fuller's use 7.2% light crystal in their main beers and that's about as much as I'd ever want, personally I prefer either none (just a nice tasty base malt) or 2-3% - you can go a bit higher if you've got some sugar in there to balance the crystal.
EKG will always be my go to, it’s probably my favorite hop.
Can't argue with that!!! EKG green hop is even better though. :-)
The last time I was in England I was surprised by the amount of American hops mentioned on the Handpump clips. I've done a few Bitters using American hops. The key is to not get heavy handed with the additions. 1 oz is often enought for 5 gallons.
Hmm - I think you'd be surprised how much a bitter can take, particularly in the whirlpool/dryhop. My standard hop-test brew is 100% Otter to 1.045 or so, with around 35IBU of bittering and then a 100g pack smeared over 10 minutes, flameout, whirlpool and dryhop.
Yes, there's quite a lot of US hops appearing in cask ales these days, but mentally we don't think of them as bitters as such, in the same way that one doesn't think of WCIPA and NEIPA as the same thing as 19th century IPAs. The UK is a lot less hung up on classification than you guys but you can see distinct families, the beers with trad British hops, the ones with C-hops, and the ones that go more hazy-tropical.
In regard to hops do you think American noble would work?
Pretty much anything goes, British beer is all about personal expression. We don't see very much of the US nobles in general - I guess the European nobles work out cheaper, and the Citras etc are more charismatic. However there are a couple around - Lees MPA uses Liberty and Mt Hood and was launched in 2013 as a modern-for-then take on the Manchester style of pale ale. It's big enough here that you see it in supermarkets outside its Manchester homeland, so I guess there's a chance of it making it across the pond.