Friday, November 15, 2013

Pale and Bitter Ale

If rarity were truly an indicator of the world's best beers, then in the American context, the top 100 would have a decent smattering of beers from the bitter family. Getting a well made, or even a made most of the time, ordinary, best, or extra special is almost as difficult as convincing some people that there is more to the United Kingdom than just the bit south of the Tweed.

The bitter beer family constitutes some of my favourite beers to drink, and to brew, indeed I think this year I have brewed more bitter than anything else combined. Bitter, if you have been keeping up with your beer history classes from Ron and Martyn, is also known as Pale Ale. The former being the name given to this type of beer by the 19th century consumer, the latter by the brewer.

On Monday I will be brewing even more Pale Ale. It is my birthday on Monday, and one of the benefits of the place I work is that employees can take their birthday off. However, rather being ensconced in my garage, brewing up one of my standard 2 and a half gallon brews, I will be at recently opened Three Notch'd Brewing Company. By the end of the day, or at least around mid afternoon given our starting time of 6am, we will have brewed 10 barrels of an English Pale Ale, more specifically a Best Bitter.

The beer is called Session 42, and will be the first locally brewed best bitter that I know of since moving to the US in 2009. I will share more technical details next week, when I write a bit more about the brewday itself. The beer in the picture above is of the trial batch, which other than a couple of minor fermentation issues turned out pretty close to what I was looking for...

Update: as you can read in the comments, my memory failed me, probably as I don't recall drinking it, but Blue Mountain Brewery made a Best Bitter last summer, called Straight Outta Chiswick.


  1. You need to visit Chicago at some point. Out this way, the Goose Island brewpub has taken to making some milds and bitters, both of which they serve on cask. The Revolution brewpub also brews ESB every now and then and puts it on cask.

  2. Thanks for this! I'll be brewing a bitter or English IPA this weekend! Look forward to hear how the brew day went.

  3. I recall Blue Mountain offering a bitter a couple of years ago. I had it at the brewpub, so it may have been a one off batch, however. I believe they called it Straight Outta Chiswick Bitter. I remember liking it.

  4. Phillip,

    you are right:

    I can't remember off the top of my head why I didn't get out there to try it, most remiss of me.

  5. I'm the head brewer at Hogshead brewery Denver Co. Today i have 4 cask conditioned beers pouring through beer engines 3 bitters and a London porter.
    we have four real ales on all the time. fancy a pint come on down

  6. "Straight Outta Chiswick" - fantastic. That really is a beer I'd drink solely on the strength of its name. Two parts of the world less like each other than Compton and Chiswick (home, as most readers of this blog are aware, I'm sure, of Fuller's brewery) would be hard to imagine.

  7. I would love to see and try more American brewed bitters. I have really only tried the imported English ones (Fuller's; Old Speckled; etc.). I did get my hands on the Blue Mountain Steel Wheels ESB. Cant say I was a big fan of that one...