British Brewer

Recreating the perfect British Pint

27 November
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Recipe: Kentish Best Bitter

(feedback on original recipe here)

Time to get started on the first recipe.  Almost all of my recipes will follow the process outlined in my last post here.  I will also be adding all my recipes to my account on Hopville.com. Hopville is a great free online tool to create and manage your recipes and share with a community of other homebrewers.  They have an excellent brewing calculator that dynamically calculates a recipes gravity, strength, colour, and bitterness as you add various ingredients and alter quantities.

The first recipe is a staple of British Ales, the Best Bitter.  A pint of Best drawn fresh from a pub at the end of the day is one of the reasons I miss home. It is a time spent with friends and family relaxing after a hard days work.  One of the Best Bitter’s primary qualities is its drink-ability, not too bitter, but enough hops to be refreshing. Smooth going down thanks to the healthy quantity of English 2-Row barley or Marris Otter malt.

The recipe I use is based heavily from a kit from Northern Brewer.  I found the original recipe to be overly hopped for a pint of Best but I liked the use of traditional English Fuggle Hops. I also replaced the Simpson’s Dark Crystal with a lighter English Crystal purely for colour and taste.

Malt: If this was an all grain brew the recipe would require over 7lbs of English Marris Otter barley malt.  As we are making extract recipes we will be substituting with 3 lbs of Light DME and 1 lb of Amber DME for the colour.

Specialty Grains: To give the ale its copper colour we will add a little Pale Chocolate Malt, not too much or the ale will become too dark and will over power with malt what is traditionally a more bitter ale.  Pale chocolate malt has a unique toasted flavour and is one of the easiest ways to add rich, toasty malt flavour to an ale.  It is used in preference to chocolate malt when less colour from the grains is desired and a grain with milder flavours is needed.

The second specialty grain is an English 80L Crystal Malt.  The “L” stands for degrees Lovibond, the scale by which the colour of beer is measured. The higher the number the darker the beer.  Crystal Malt is a form caramelized malt resulting from a modified malting process where the malt is kilned at relatively high temperatures while they are still moist. This results in more of a stewing than roasting or toasting, causing the starches to prematurely convert to sugars and then caramelized.  English 80L Crystal Malt will add a deep amber color and a strong, toffee/sweet flavour.  We are using a relatively small amount so these flavours will not overpower the final ale. (NOTE: Even though malts are still measured in Lovibond most beers are now compared to the Standard Reference Model (SRM) scale which is essentially the same.  We will be using SRM on this blog)

Hops: We are using a single hop variety for this recipe and he one with perhaps the silliest name, the Fuggle Hop. It is rumored to be named after Richard Fuggle of Kent on the SE coast of England in 1861 (hence the name Kentish Best), though this has been questioned by some serious hop scholars.  Fuggles are not typically used as a bittering hop given the low alpha acid range of between 3.5-6% (a bitter hop can have an alpha of over 15%). We will be using a healthy dose of the hop at the top of the boil giving us a not too bitter bitter.  As this is a single hop recipe we will also be using Fuggles as the aroma and flavour hops imparting a pleasant earthy woody character it is famous for and found in so many British Ales.

Yeast: There are so many different strains of yeast we could use for this project.  Northern Brewer selected Wyeast London ESB Ale.  This yeast strain tends to give a beer more of a fruity flavor which balances nicely with the earthy aroma of the Fuggles Hops.  Flocculation levels are also high (this means it forms larger flakes of yeast, attracting proteins also which would otherwise be suspended). These flakes will fall to the bottom leaving very little suspended matter in the ale, leading to very clear ales suitable for casks and kegs (don’t want to clog the lines with crud). I saw no reason to change and its worked for me every time.

Other Additions: We will be using Irish Moss to help clarify the beer and some corn sugar to give the beer a little more strength to get the OG calculation into the recommended BJCP guidelines for Best Bitter without altering the aroma or flavour.

Kentish Best Bitter (BJCP Beer Style: Special/Best/Premium Bitter, category: English Pale Ale)

  • 5 Gallon, 60 min boil
  • OG 1047, FG 1012
  • 4.3% ABV
  • 33.4 IBU
  • 11° SRM
  • Ready to drink in 5-6 weeks

Base Malt and Fermentables:

  • 3 lbs Light Dry Malt Extract (60 mins)
  • 1lbs Amber Dry Malt Extract (60 mins)

Specialty Grains:

  • 8oz English Crystal 80L
  • 2oz Pale Chocolate Malt

Hops

  • Bittering Hop – 2oz English Fuggle (60 mins)
  • Flavour Hop – 1/2 oz English Fuggle (15 mins)
  • Aroma Hop – 1/2 oz English Fuggle (5 mins)

Other Additions

  • 1 tsp Irish Moss (30 mins)
  • 1lb Corn Sugar (after boil is complete)

Process

  • Please follow the process guidelines outlined in my post here.  You will require all the equipment specified here.
  • Primary Fermentation: 5-7 days at 65-75°
  • Secondary Fermentation: 2 weeks at 55° (if you can otherwise just 5-7 days in the same location as the primary)
  • Prime and store in the bottle for at least 2 weeks before consuming
  • Peak flavour will be reached after 4 weeks in the bottle

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