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Red Bitter ("Autumn Hop Ale") - Shepherd's Neame Late Red-style beer


Years ago, when I spent a semester in London, I fell in love with a pub near my school and all the ales they served. Their cask ales were all from Shepherd's Neame, and the best one was the seasonal tap (which changed from an "autumn hop ale" when I arrived to a Christmas ale late in the semester). That autumn bitter was my favorite English ale, and it was called "Late Red." It was a ruby red bitter, relatively strong (4.5% ABV), and very well balanced. When I looked this one up, I found that it was brewed with "traditional English varieties of malted barley" and Kent-grown cascade hops. Clearly I can't buy any British Cascades, but since I'm no clone-stickler, I imagine the Washingtonian variety would serve me well. Also, the website says they use "fresh water from the well," but I don't know what Kentish well water is like. How does one go about brewing a bright red bitter? My instinct is to use Maris Otter, some medium crystal, and either Black Malt or even Carafa Special II (just because I am more familiar with darkening a beer this way). I figured I should shoot for about 12-15 SRM.

How should I go about this, though? I remember the color as very very red, so I thought to lay off of Munich and Vienna entirely, and go somewhat easy on the Crystal. This is what I have now, but I would greatly appreciate some advice from people more experienced at brewing bitters. I recently got a request to furnish 2 kegs of bitter for my friend's baby shower (the other one will be a relatively light, somewhat hoppy 4% ABV ale).

Here's what I have so far:

8 lbs TF Maris Otter
10 oz TF Medium Crystal (45L)
2.5 oz Carafa Special II or Black Malt

US Cascade    5.7 %    0.75 oz    FWH
US Columbus   13.2 %    0.50 oz    60 Min From End
US Cascade    5.7 %    0.50 oz     5 Min From End
US Cascade    5.7 %    0.50 oz    Dry-Hopped

WLP006 Bedford British (1L stir-plate starter or 1 pint of fresh slurry from recently-racked bitter)

Mash at 152F for 60 min (should I go 150F? or 154F?)

Semi-burtonized water (adding a tablespoon of Burton salts to my relatively soft water)

10-14 days of primary at 60-65F (ferm fridge set to 58, then brought to 60 after a couple days),

I'd love to see how this turns out, it's exactly what I'm looking to brew after my pumpkin ale.

I am wondering if bittering with ctz is a good idea. On the one hand, it reduces hop matter in the kettle (compared with all cascade), which is bound to help me get that beer brilliantly clear, but I could also just use northern brewer, which is somewhat more traditional. Then again, with cascade as the backbone (and only hop mentioned in the description), I feel like the C hop character from ctz won't really screw anything up.

I almost always use as big an alpha acid value hop for my bittering additions as I can.  There is very little flavor (if any) that comes through.  More bang for your buck and as you said, less hop matter.

Sounds good to me.  Makes me want to make one up.

Happy Brewing,


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