cure on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/46347505@N05/8139105016/” target=”_blank”>Extra strong, online or special, ed bitter (also known as ESB) style beers are a fun beer to drink and a relatively simple one to make. When you hear an Englishman refer to a beer is a bitter, traditionally this is the style of beer they are referring to. This style of beer has been around a while. It came about probably sometime around the mid-1700s but was likely significantly different from what the style has evolved into. The term ‘bitter’ was used to distinguish the style of beer from that of others beers that were not hopped, not necessarily because the beer was very hoppy, just hoppier than a beer with no hops. However, over the course of the centuries, ESBs have become slightly more bitter than the average ale, probably for no other reason than they have the word ‘bitter’ in their name. Now ESBs are characterized by having a fairly distinct hoppy bitterness that is relatively stronger than their ale contemporaries.
Much like porters, there is a lot of room for characteristics of ESB brews. In general, ESBs are characterized by having a medium body, medium to light malt flavor, rich golden color (around 10 L) and are distinguished by a stronger-than-usual bitterness. The bitterness is not to the level of an IPA, but closer to that of the more bitter American Ales. The style is also characterized by a slightly less-than-average carbonation level compared to that of other ales, which is important to remember in the priming process.
The hops used in brewing ESB style beers are in general English varieties, such as Kent Goldings or Fuggles. To achieve the ESB style hop bitterness, the majority of the hops are “front loaded” and added as bittering hops at the beginning of the boil. For Kent Goldings or Fuggles style hops, 2 oz. is generally the norm and these can be boiled anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes. Often, one more ounce of hops is added to the boil toward the shorter end of the spectrum (10 to 15 minutes remaining in the boil) for flavoring hops or as finishing hops (2 to 5 minutes remaining). The dominant hop characteristic in the ESB is the bitterness. The goal is to achieve this but with a level of hop flavor and aroma for balance. To further round out the hop presence, dry hopping is always an option.
A general ESB-style extract recipe would look something like this:
6 pounds of pale malt extract
1.5 lbs 40 L crystal malt specialty grain (adds rich color plus malty flavor)
Bittering hops: 2 oz Kent Goldings (60 min)
Flavoring hops: 1 oz Kent Goldings (10 min)
Dry hop: 1 oz Fuggles
This should produce a relatively medium bodied, richer color, bitter beer while not having an overwhelming amount of bitterness associated with it, but nicely balanced.
If you prime your beer I would recommend removing about a quarter cup of the corn sugar from the normal priming solution process. If you force carbonate I would recommend bringing the force carbonation pressure down to about 11-12 psi.
Brewing an ESB (Extra Sandy Bitter), on Flickr.
I recently came into possession of some Beer Pouches, internist
a revolutionary new way to transport your beer. It is a lightweight metal foil growler replacement. As FoodBeast says, it looks like a Capri Sun packet. At first glance I was not crazy about this packaging. It looks funny and I found it hard to believe that these would be good for carbonated beverages. I could imagine one of these popping or losing its seal. Flat beer would be everywhere and instead of being the cool guy who brings awesome beer to the party, you would be the d-bag who brought a leaky bull scrotum nobody knew what to do with. Eventually it would get knocked over.
Let me tell you – Beer Pouch is awesome. For those of us who love glass and the constant threat of breaking a bottle and getting cut, the Beer Pouch takes a little getting used to. The form factor is not familiar to most of us. I had expected this to be flexible but the metal foil is rigid, making it easy to stand up on a countertop. There is no flopping around with this thing. Its light weight and collapsibility make for easy storage. Try collapsing a traditional growler and then reusing it.
In addition, the closure and foil are tough and they definitely hold the carbonation. The manufacturer told me that he had yet to learn of any of these things leaking or breaking. Actually, he did hear of one breaking, but that was while it was being used in place of a puck for a hockey game.
As you might guess, I love this thing. Far from the awkward leaky bull scrotum I expected, this is a well-designed, well-engineered piece of beer accessory goodness. Gone are the days of bulky, fragile growlers. You saved us, Beer Pouch. You saved us.
Keep your eyes peeled in the next couple weeks for a Beer Pouch giveaway. You know you want one.
Photo shamelessly lifted from the Beer Pouch website.