Wednesday, November 1, 2023

My House, My Rules

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post about the concept of a "house beer", in which I ask the question:

"which of your brews is the one that is the highest expression of you as a brewer, of the business that is your brewery? Which one would you stake your entire reputation on?"

Having put that question out there into the interwebs, several friends have asked me which of my various beers that I brew would I consider my "house beer"?

Obviously, here I am talking about my homebrew rather than any of the recipes I have provided to professional brewers. As such, while I love Morana to bits, my tmavé that was first brewed in 2010 with Devils Backbone and coincidently again this week, I would not call it my house beer as I haven't brewed my own version of it in over a decade. The same could be said of Session/Bitter 42, a best bitter that I did with Three Notch'd Brewing, and hasn't seen the light of their brewpub for nearly 4 years now.

However, in terms of the style of my house beer, it is a best bitter, for the very simple reason that any kind of bitter, other than overly heavy stabs at ESB (seriously American brewers stop making them all grain and use some invert sugar to lighten the load and enhance drinkability), is rarer than a speckled hen's tooth. I do have an ordinary bitter recipe that I will brew from time to time, but it is my best bitter that I probably brew more than anything else, at least 4 times a year, or about a third of all my brewing projects.

The recipe does have similarities with Session/Bitter 42 in that I don't use any crystal malts at all, my single specialty malt is a biscuit malt, the Three Notch'd version uses Briess Victory malt. I moved away from Victory for my version as I prefer the sweeter character of biscuit to the toastier notes in Victory, it rounds out the beer for me. In terms of base malt, I have also moved away from using one of the "traditional" British pale malts (fun fact, Golden Promise long ago stopped being Scotland's barley of choice, the most common these days for malting and brewing is a variety called Laureate). My base malt of choice is Murphy & Rude English Pale Malt, which is a tad bit darker than their standard pale malt, but still uses Virginia grown barley. I have made it my goal to use exclusively Murphy & Rude malt where possible, and I feel that using seriously fresh malt has made my beer several steps better than previously.

The grist then for my house best bitter then is:

  • 88% Murphy & Rude English Pale malt
  • 12% Murphy & Rude Biscuit malt
Hops is one part of this recipe that I change pretty often, purely on a whim. The classic version though uses East Kent Goldings to get about 40 IBUs, a little bit lower than the 42 IBU that goes into Session/Bitter 42. The targeted number of IBUs at each addition is pretty much set in stone regardless of the hop variety in use:
  • 25 IBU for 60 minutes
  • 10 IBU for 15 minutes
  • 5 IBU for 5 minutes
When it comes to yeast choice, I will happily admit that I use one particular strain far more than any other whether I am brewing my brown ale, stout, or best bitter. I love the reliability and character of SafAle S-04, the very subtle floral and fruity esters play nicely with the malt in particular. Oh and it flocculates superbly, leaving me with a lovely clear beer without having to fine my brews with isinglass or gelatin.

The water just comes straight out of my well.

Assuming everything goes to plan when I brew my best bitter, which I don't really have a name for beyond [hop variety] Best Bitter, I end up with something like this in the glass.

Can't be bad, eh?

1 comment:

  1. I've brewed a bitter inspired by Session 42 a couple of times!


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