I have been thinking about making an ESB and have looked at the guidelines for one and have to admit it looks like it's totally open to ones own interpretation as how to make it. Moderately low to moderately high this and that and well if you look at the style guide lines you will see what I mean. It says it can have a "somewhat strong caramelly malt sweetness" and background malt flavors and the like. I guess this is more a question of how to mash it rather than what to put in it. From all the recipes I have looked at most of the people one step the mash but I just don't feel this will give the profile I'm looking for. I have had Redhook ESB that was talked about in the guide as an example but I feel it should have been a little more directed to the malt side of it and it is more on the bitterness side of the scale. Is this something I should consider Decoction (more than likely trashed that spelling) mashing to pull the malts forward or would that push it out of the guide lines? I normally step mash but I don't feel that will pull the malts forward enough.
This is the recipe I have come up with for my first one. I figure to keep it simple and the hops are what I have on hand right now.
9 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 83.33 %
2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 16.67 %
1.00 oz Brewer's Gold [9.00 %] (60 min) Hops 27.4 IBU
0.50 oz Fuggles [4.20 %] (60 min) Hops 6.4 IBU
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.20 %] (20 min) Hops 7.7 IBU
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) Yeast-Ale
SRM 16 a bit on the high side
I think I need to stay on the high side of the bitterness to balance out the malt flavor I'm looking for. A little on the sweet and Caramel side and a nice hops presence.. So what do you think single step it, multi step mash or decoction say a two or 3 step?