Monday, 1 December 2014

Tasting - Poetaster ESB

I've got my first lager, a Czech Pilsner in the fermentation chamber. I'll post more details about it once it's bottled, it was the first I've worked with water modifications as well so I'm interested to see the results! Also, the very first temperature controlled beer I've done - a Scottish 80 - is bottled now, and the sample was delicious, a whole new level of success! Full tasting and update to come.

ESB - Extra Special Bitter are extra special to me.

Maybe it's some remnant of my British ancestry, or maybe it's just the balance inherent to the style.
The balance between the sweetness and bitterness from the malt and the hops, the interplay between the earthy, floral English hops and the caramel flavors alongside the fruitiness from the ESB yeast.. I love this style!

I've never failed to make an ESB that I've enjoyed. While there's always room for improvement, which I expect will be fixed as I introduce temperature and water chemistry control, there's never been one that has turned out badly. The first time I drank a Fuller's ESB I knew that I had to get deeper into the British ales. These, alongside an Oaked Ordinary Bitter are some of the quaffables I try to keep stocked at every part of the year.

The recipes are always simple and efficient: base malt, some caramel malt, and a strong dose of flavoring hops at the end of the boil with some optional dry hopping if wanted. The Wyeast 1968 is my favorite yeast strain for this style, and it is one of my favorites to work with in general: A little warmer and you get a dose of fruitiness to work with that is reminiscent of dark fruit. Ferment cool and it will be relatively clean for Ordinary Bitters or Milds. The flocculation on this strain is gorgeous, when the starter ferments out it starts to look like egg drop soup in the flask because the yeast has just lodged together into thick bits. This allows for bright beers really quickly!

Poetaster ESB
OG: 1.052
FG: 1.012
32 IBUs

ABV: 5%

8# 2-row
0.5# Crystal 75
0.25# Amber malt
0.25# Crystal 120
1 cup Brown Sugar to boil kettle

Mash @ 152*F 60 mins

1.5 oz East Kent Goldings 60 minutes
2 oz East Kent Goldings @ Flame out

Chill, O2 for 60 seconds, pitch Wyeast 1968 London ESB

Appearance: Deep red, like dried cranberry colour. Thick head that slowly fades to a fingers width and sticks to the glass with good lacing.

Aroma: Dark fruit/dark caramel, some floral hops aromas

Flavor: Malty, caramel flavors that linger. Assertive bitterness. Earthy hops that are muted, this bottle is almost 2 months old now. Some toasty flavor from the amber malt.

Mouthfeel: Moderate body; low carbonation.

Overall: Getting past it's prime, but still good! The caramel is great, but I think next time I'll go down to crystal 40 instead of 75 in order to bring a little less fruitiness from the caramel malts. The toastiness is at just about the right level from the amber malt, so that's good. I may try this recipe again with filtered water, I feel like the high carbonates in my tap water interfere with hops flavor. I have preferred the ESBs that I have dry hopped as well. I've ran out of EKG, so the next bitters will be made with challenger and target instead just to try some new hops.

Thanks for reading!

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