Extra Special Beautiful ESB

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 30

SRM: 11

OG: 1.058 (14.25°P)

FG: 1.013 (3.25°P)

Link to article
English-style bitter in nonic pint glass

Julia Herz, American Homebrewers Association Executive Director, shares the journey behind developing this homebrew recipe in her article Extra Special Beautiful: Perfecting the Perfect ESB, featured in the May/June 2024 Zymurgy magazine.

* * *

I’ve always had challenges with the name “bitter.” Bitter is not a very romantic name for a style. One would never name a wine style “acidic.” Yes, the style name “bitter” pre-dates sensory terminology by several hundred years, but like any homebrewer, I have the power to change things I brew, so I will henceforth encourage the world to refer to ESB as Extra Special Beautiful.

Now on to my quest to perfect this style. I’m personally favoring Strong Bitter (11C in Beer Judge Certification Program 2021 Guidelines) over Ordinary and Best Bitter. It has more girth, mouthfeel, and residual sugar, yet is still very sessionable, with an ABV range of 4.6 to 6.2%.

Recipe written by Julia Herz with contributions from Jamil Zainasheff.

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Julia Herz, American Homebrewers Association Executive Director, shares the journey behind developing this homebrew recipe in her article Extra Special Beautiful: Perfecting the Perfect ESB, featured in the May/June 2024 Zymurgy magazine.

* * *

I’ve always had challenges with the name “bitter.” Bitter is not a very romantic name for a style. One would never name a wine style “acidic.” Yes, the style name “bitter” pre-dates sensory terminology by several hundred years, but like any homebrewer, I have the power to change things I brew, so I will henceforth encourage the world to refer to ESB as Extra Special Beautiful.

Now on to my quest to perfect this style. I’m personally favoring Strong Bitter (11C in Beer Judge Certification Program 2021 Guidelines) over Ordinary and Best Bitter. It has more girth, mouthfeel, and residual sugar, yet is still very sessionable, with an ABV range of 4.6 to 6.2%.

Recipe written by Julia Herz with contributions from Jamil Zainasheff.

Ingredients:

  • FERMENTABLES
  • 12 lb. (5.44 kg) Golden Promise pale malt
  • 0.75 lb. (340 g) Cara Gold malt
  • 0.5 lb. (227 g) Crisp 77°L crystal malt
  • 0.33 lb. (150 g) soft red flaked wheat
  • 0.33 lb. (150 g) malted oats
  • HOPS
  • 1 oz. (28 g) Target, 8% a.a. @ 60 min
  • 0.3 oz. (8.5 g) Challenger @ 15 min
  • 0.3 oz. (8.5 g) Challenger @ 5 min
  • 0.11 oz. (3 g) East Kent Goldings @ 5 min
  • 0.75 oz. (21 g) East Kent Goldings, dry hop @ 7 days left in FV
  • YEAST
  • 1 pack Wyeast 1968 London ESB ale or equivalent
  • OTHER INGREDIENTS
  • Burton water profile
  • Lactic acid as needed
  • 1.5 tsp. (5 g) gelatin to fine

Specifications:

Yield: 6 U.S. gallons (22.71 L)

Original Gravity: 1.058 (14.25°P)

Final Gravity: 1.013 (3.25°P)

ABV: 5.8%

IBU: 30

SRM: 11

Directions:

Mash at 147°F (64°C) for 60 minutes. Mash out 168.8°F (76°C) for 1 minute. Sparge at 168.8°F (76°C) for 30 minutes. Ferment at 62–68°F (17–20°C) over the first 10 hours. Then hold at 62.6°F (17°C) for 4 days, 42.8°F (6°C) for 2 days, 50°F (10°C) for 7 days, 65°F (18°C) for 3 days, 55°F (13°C) for 3 days, and 45°F (7°C) for 3 days. Add 5 grams gelatin finings dissolved in boiled water and hold for 3 days at 42°F (6°C).

Package and condition.


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