AG#10 – Tailgunner Best Bitter

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It’s been over a year since I did my “series” of English bitters. I did a couple of bitters and a mild last January, all using S-04 dried yeast. The results were pretty mediocre, and although I’ve gained a lot of homebrewing knowledge since then, I’m pretty confident that it’s the fault of the S-04 yeast. I just find it very harsh, and it takes far too long to condition out. After scoring rather poorly in last years competition with a couple of these years, I resolved to never again use a dried English strain again that isn’t Danstar Nottingham.

So I recently splashed out on a vial of WLP002 which will hopefully give a satisfactory result. WLP002 is believed to be the Fullers strain and should lots of characteristic English fruitiness but has a lower level of attenuation, leaving lots of residual body and sweetness. As such, I will need to keep the level of crystal malt restrained and also watch my mash temperatures. I’ve been doing a bit of reading through Graham Wheelers book and I’m going for a fairly standard recipe of Maris Otter, C60 with plenty of wheat malt for head retention and a touch of black malt for colour. I’m hoping for a nice copper colour with this one. I’ll be relying on the Classic English pairing of East Kent Goldings and Fuggles for both battering and flavour, but I’ll keep the size of the additions modest as I don’t want the hop flavours to be pre-dominant. I want to be able to appreciate the full character of the yeast.

I’ll be using a 1.2 litre starter that I made 3 days ago. Hopefully it will be okay as the vial was a little past it’s best before date.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 24.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 18.4 EBC
Estimated IBU: 29.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

4.400 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 89.3 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 6.1 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC), 4.1 %
0.025 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 0.5 %
22 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 12.8 IBUs
22 g Goldings, East Kent [4.90 %] – Boil 60.0, 14.6 IBUs
10 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 1.2 IBUs
10 g Goldings, East Kent [4.90 %] – Boil 10.0, 1.3 IBUs
1.0 pkg English Ale (White Labs #WLP002)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.925 kg
Mash In           Add 13.79 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 16.52l) of 77.0 C water

16/03/2014 – This was my first outdoor brew day and the rain just about held off. Great not to have the brew stinking up the house or condensation dripping down the windows. Treated 25 litres of mash liquor with 1 tsp of gypsum. I waited until the end of the mash rest before I started heating the water for the sparge. It came up to temperature just in time and was around 90C before transfer to the mash tun. I measured the temperature of the sparge after transfer and it was over 76C. I think this is the first time I’ve ever had a proper sparge temperature since I started brewing all-grain. It might account for the fact that I was several points over my intended OG. I got an OG of 1.050-1.052!

Run-off from the boil was excellent because there was so little hops in the recipe. Wort was very clear also, but I think I’m going to have to adjust my “losses to boiler” in BeerSmith as I got only 18 litres into the fermenter. Still plenty of wort left in the boil but it was mixed up withe break material and hops, so I didn’t want to put that into the FV if I could help it.

Pitched about a litre of the starter wort. The WLP002 is such a clumpy yeast, great hunks of yeast went into the FV. Hopefully it won’t be long before the fermentation kicks off.

31/03/2014 – Bottled using 110g of glucose (17l @ 2.5 vol). Got 34 bottles from the batch. Great aroma from the beer, but tastes slightly harsh. Yeasty, perhaps. FG 1.012.

07/09/2014 – Disappointed with the lack of notes on this beer. It’s held up quite well in the warm shed over the summer months and I’ve still got about 10 bottles of it left. I was impressed with the malty flavours and just looked up the recipe. I was amazed to see that there’s no record of me using amber malt in this, but it’s definitely there. Unless the English ale yeast is bringing out those malty flavours? Could it be Thomas Fawcett base malt I used?

12/10/2014 – This is still really nice. And it’s so obviously got a flavour of amber malt. I just can’t believe I neglected to put this in the recipe. If I were to reproduce it, I’d probably start with 125g of amber malt. It actually drinks more like a brown ale. Though if I were to call it a brown ale, I’d probably add a little chocolate malt to darken the colour a bit.

03/01/2015 – Last bottle and still yum. Big body and flavour for such a low gravity beer. Toasty, malty, perfectly bittered. Wish I had the actual recipe so that I could reproduce it. Would be more inclined to start with 75-100g of amber malt if I were to attempt it again.

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