AG#46 – Preston Best Bitter

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I haven’t been having the best of luck with my last few English bitters. My Tailgunner Bitter that I brewed last May was put in to a cornie keg and it ended up reeking of Cola! I haven’t got to the bottom of that disappointment yet, but time to press on with another bitter. Cola flavours aside, I’ve decided that I’m not that keen on the flavours that WLP007 bring to English ales, I think the WLP002 does a much better job. The problem with WLP002 is that it is a low attenuator, which is great for low-gravity bitters but not brilliant for an English pale ale or similar.

As the home brew shops were sold out of WLP002, I decided to try out one of the Wyeast equivalents, a strain that comes highly recommended from no less than Jamil Zainasheff, an award-winning American home brewer. This strain is alleged to accentuate malt flavours and attenuate well. I’m not sure if I’ll get another brew out of this particular yeast pitch, I’ll wait and have a taste of the resulting Preston Bitter before I decide.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 14.5 EBC
Estimated IBU: 27.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

5.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins Water Agent 1 –
4.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Crisp (6.5 EBC) Grain 2 86.9 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC) Grain 3 6.1 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC) Grain 4 3.0 %
0.150 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC) Grain 5 3.0 %
0.050 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC) Grain 6 1.0 %
26 g Goldings, East Kent [5.70 %] – Boil 60.0 Hop 7 19.3 IBUs
10 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 60.0 mi Hop 8 4.3 IBUs
10 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 10.0 Hop 9 1.6 IBUs
10 g East Kent Goldings [5.70 %] – Boil 2.0 m Hop 10 1.4 IBUs
10 g Styrian Goldings [3.00 %] – Boil 2.0 min Hop 11 0.7 IBUs
1.0 pkg West Yorkshire Ale (Wyeast Labs #1469) [ Yeast 12 –
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.950 kg

Mash In Add 13.86 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.52l) of 77.0 C water

10/10/2015 Mash Day – Got a mash temperature of 67C. Wort not as dark as I was expecting.

11/10/2015 Brew Day – Messed up my liquor volumes and ended up with too much in the fermenter, and consequently a low OG of 1.042. What a disaster.

23/10/2015 – I was expecting the yeast to lie on top of the beer for a long time, from the descriptions I’ve read online. There’s a thick pancake of yeast still there, which is very odd for an English yeast strain. Nice smell from the beer though.

25/10/2015 – I moved the fermenter to a colder room and the yeast pancake has finally dropped. Will leave another week or so before bottling.

04/11/2015 – Bottled with 104g of corn sugar (18 litres at 2.3 vol). 12 x 750ml bottles and 18 x 500ml bottles.

22/11/2015 – I’ve started cracking a few bottles of this open, and it’s reasonably promising. It hasn’t dropped bright yet, there’s still quite a bit of haze, which I’m attributing to yeast. It’s got that slightly bitter yeast bite, but it’s not unpleasant. Obviously not, considering I’m about 8 bottles in at this stage. Head is practically non-existent, but the carbonation level is very nice, just what I want in an English bitter. I need to slow down on it, because I think it will taste very nice in another few weeks.

01/12/2015 – The flavours have rounded out considerably on this. It’s a little brighter, which means I can taste more of the beer. However, I don’t think the yeast character is that impressive. I was expecting more from this yeast strain which has a great reputation amongst home brewers. Tastes a little watery, a little. It of biscuit and toast, but not enough to make it interesting.

31/12/2015 – Side by side tasting of the Bad Landlord and Preston Bitter. The Bad Landlord went straight in the sink – massively overcarbonated, thin, astringent, dull and tasteless. The Preston is somewhat of an improvement, but it’s got little head retention and a pretty mediocre flavour. It might be that pushing the fermentation temperature is the key to success with this particular yeast strain. But that can be risky when you don’t have proper fermentation control. In any case, it will be a while before I tackle the West Yorkshire strain again.

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