This was my first partial mash batch. I chose a low gravity style so I could try to get a high percentage of the fermentables from the small amount of grain I mashed and so I could easily add a little extra extract if the mash didn’t go well.
I conducted a Brew In a Bag mash, not much different from how I still do them for some of my low gravity beers. A five gallon paint strainer bag fit perfectly over top of the 7.5 gallon turkey pot I was brewing with at the time and fit up to about seven pounds of grist comfortably along with the liquor. The pot was covered with a lid and wrapped in a towel and then left to sit for about an hour, at which point the grains were pulled out, the water was topped up to about six gallons and the boil commenced in the same way I had been doing it since starting extract brewing.
I didn’t get great efficiency, but I was able to get conversion and the beer turned out great. Looking at the recipe now, I probably would have cut some of the specialty grains, but it worked perfectly. My current mode is usually to simplify the grain bill as much as possible. I used Maris Otter, Crystal 60L, Special Roast and Aromatic. If I were making the recipe now, I would probably cut the Aromatic and up the volume of the Crystal. Maybe that would be a bad idea, though.
I was very excited to use Maris Otter malt as I had heard a lot about it but never had a chance to use it because as a base grain, it didn’t fit into any of my extract recipes. It has become one of my favorites and is the only malt in my Old SMaSHy Barley Wine, which I’ll be brewing again in a couple weeks.
The Special Roast is key in making the kind of English Bitters that I like. This malt is usually used in darker beers, but a small amount in a bitter, half a pound in this case, brings some great complexity. It has a nice roasty tang, but is nowhere near as bitter as normal roasted malt. There is a lot of biscuit flavor and that little bit of roast and together they put a nice twist on the malt character of this low gravity beer.
For the hops, I stuck with the classic British standards. I used East Kent Goldings for bittering and Fuggles for flavor and aroma. Goldings are one of my favorite hop varieties and are also showcased in my barley wine. I haven’t used Fuggles much lately, but remembering this beer is making me want to go back to them. The two hops are pretty similar, but I find Goldings to be spicier and more tea-like while Fuggles are a little bit cleaner.
Ordinary Bitter is a great style in general and is also a perfect beer to try out partial mash or all grain brewing for the first time. My recipe is below.
Style: Ordinary Bitter
Brew Date: January, 2013
Serve Date: February, 2013
Approximate ABV: 3.7%
5 lb Maris Otter Pale Malt
.5 lb Special Roast
.5 lb Aromatic Malt
.25 lb Crystal 60L Malt
1 oz East Kent Goldings @ 60 min
1 oz Fuggles @ 20 min
1 oz Fuggles @ 2 min
Windsor English Dry Yeast