Original Post: 5 O’Clock Bitter
Brew Date: January, 2013
Tasting Date: August 15, 2014
Approximate ABV: 3.7%
This beer is much older than it should be, but it looks and sounds great. Perfect carbonation pop and perfectly clear. It is light orangey-amber with very fluffy pure white foam.
The hop aroma is gone, but it doesn’t smell bad or cardboard-y. There is not a lot of aroma coming off it at all, actually. It is slightly malty but very restrained in every order.
The first sip brings a little bit of the oxidized old-homebrew-flavor, but it isn’t too bad. Despite the lack of hop aroma, there is still a good bitterness along with a nice blast of malt flavors. The Special Roast comes through and is quite surprising after seeing the color of the beer. The roast blends well with some caramel sweetness and just a bit of crusty bread flavor blended in.
Foam never got out of control, but it is sticking around and it’s very pillowy and soft. I expected beer this old to be a bit prickly or just plain bland and this is perfectly lively without getting out of hand. A nice surprise.
Don’t get me wrong, this is well past its prime. The hop flavor is sorely missed and while the oxidation is not as extreme as it could be, it still takes away from the overall beer. I feel like some of the fermentation character is lost in the oxidation. I don’t remember which yeast I used, but I know it was a characterful English yeast and I’m not getting much of that at all.
As I get closer to the bottom of the glass, the roast character may be a bit much. With hops over top, I remember it being nice and subtle, but now it is coming out a bit more with each sip. It isn’t unpleasant, but this is a beer meant to be drunk in quantity and I think it could get in the way of that over time.
Overall though, I’m surprised how well this 3.7% ABV beer has held up. Between Ordinary Bitter and Mild, I think I should keep an English session beer around at all times. I’ve brewed a lot more Mild, it me be about time to revisit the Bitter.