Sunday, March 13, 2011

Screwy's Recipe #49 - Extra Special Strong Bitter (All Grain)

After months of brewing German style beers like Pilsener, Okoberfest/Marzen and Weissbier I now have locked down quite a few recipes that produced beers I really enjoy drinking. I also turned my attention to producing some nice American ales based on recipes that included hops like Cluster that were available to Prohibition Era immigrant brewers.

Lately I've been focusing on English ales like India Pale Ale (IPA) and Extra Special Strong Bitter (ESB) and trying to design recipes that produce interestingly complex mixtures of malts and hops. As always I began my research on the BJCP website to get the official take on how this beer should come out. The next step is to drink a few different brands to get an idea on how the bigger brewers have interpreted the style and then search the Internet to see how other home brewers have brewed the style.

Marris Otter, Biscuit, Challenger, Fuggle, Kent Golding and WLP005

I used created a new qBrew's default 'Screwy Brewer's Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)' style guideline as the basis for crunching this recipe's numbers. It's loosely based on qBrew's default 'Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)' guideline, the recipe download contains my complete ingredient list and brewing notes. You can download the latest qBrew database below and use it to upgrade your current ingredient database. This latest ingredient database includes more yeast, fruits, extracts and other helpful entries then ever before.

  Click to download Screwy's latest qBrew database   

Click to download this recipe file for qBrew 
Size 2.13 gallons: Estimated IBU=56, SRM=11, OG=1.070, FG=1.017, ABV=6.8%

5 pounds Marris Otter Malt (UK)
1/4 pound Biscuit Malt (Belgium)

1 ounce Challenger (U.K.) hops (first wort hops)
1/2 ounce Fuggles (U.K.) hops (20 mins)
1/2 ounce Kent Goldings (U.K.) hops (7 mins)

1 Pack Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) or White Labs WLP005 - British Ale Yeast™ 

Aerate, pitch at 70°F and ferment at 66°F for 12 days
Raise to 70°F over days 13 to 14 then rack to secondary fermenter
Cold condition secondary fermenter for 1 week at 34°F
Keg at 30psi for 5-7 days and serve at 34°F

** Infusion mash at 150°F for 60 minutes **
Heat 16 quarts of filtered water to 170°F
Soak mash tun in 8 quarts of 180F water for 20 minutes and then dump out to preheat tun
Pour 8 quarts of 170°F water into mash tun
Mix in 5.25 pounds of crushed grain mix at 60°F
Pour the 170°F water to fill mash tun to 2.50 gallon mark
Stir water and grain mixture and adjust to 150°F and mash for 60 minutes
Sparge with 170°F strike water to set mash bed to 168°F
Add 1 ounce of Challenger (U.K.) hops to boil pot as first wort hop addition
Lauter for 30 minutes adding 11.5 quarts of sweet wort to the boil pot

Full Wort Boil:
Add 1/2 ounce Fuggles (U.K.) hops with 20 minutes remaining to boil
Add 1/8 tablet WhirlFloc with 9 minutes remaining to boil
Add 1/2 ounce Kent Goldings (U.K.) hops with 7 minutes minutes remaining to boil
Use Screwy's Cooler wort chiller to cool wort to 70°F

Primary Fermentation:
Pour wort through strainer to remove excess hop and grain debris
Fill the Mr. Beer fermenter with wort to the 8.5 quart mark
Aerate wort and pitch 1 package of Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) at 70°F or WLP005
Ferment at 68°F for 12 days, raise to 70°F over days 13 to 14 for rest
** WLP005 Rouse yeast occasionally if needed to promote fermentation

Secondary Fermentation:
Rack to secondary fermenter
Cold condition secondary fermenter for 1 week at 34°F

Keg and force carbonate at 30psi for 5-7 days at 34°F
Bottle prime and carbonate at 70° for 7-14 days

First Wort Hop Additions Added To Both Boilpots
I decided to double up on the recipe and mash 10.5 pounds of grains at the same time, this saved me an hour and a half since I only had to mash and lauter a single batch. I used a mash calculator to figure out my mash volumes and temperatures. Adding 50% of my hop additions to the boil pots during the 30 minute lauter lets them steep in the hot wort which makes their aromatic oils become more soluble and not evaporate during the boil.

Preheated Mash Tun With 180F Water Fro 20 Minutes
My brewing area is around 58F so I preheat my mash tun to get it closer to my mashing temperature before beginning my mash. After 20 minutes I dump out the water and prepare for mashing by pouring 2 gallons of 170F filtered water into the tun. I next add in my 10.5 pounds of 58F crushed grains and then stir in enough 170F water to fill the tun to the 4.5 gallon mark, adjusting the temperature as needed to hit my 150F mash temperature.

Mash Thickness Of 1.5 And A Temperature Of 150F For 1 Hour
After mashing at 150F for an hour I cracked open the valve on the tun to recirculate around 2 or 3 cups of wort in order to set the grain bed and clear up the wort before running it into the boil pots. Once the wort is running clear I sparged the grains with 170F strike water until both boil pots were filled with 11.5 quarts of wort each.

Pour Sparge Water On Plastic Lid To Avoid Disturbing The Grain Bed
I timed the boils of both pots to be about 30 minutes apart since it takes about 15-20 minutes to chill the wort down from boiling to the 70F pitching temperature. This allows me enough time to pour the chilled wort through a strainer into the primary fermenter while the other pot is still boiling. This takes a bit of multitasking because you don't want to miss the hops additions to the boiling pot while you're racking to the fermenter.

The Left Pot Is 30 Minutes Behind Right Pot's Boil
I keep a pot of boiling water simmering on the stovetop in case I need to add a cup or so of makeup water to the boil so I have enough volume for the fermenter.

First, Second, Third Hop Additions And WhirFloc Have Been Added
The tap water is a cold 60F this time of year in my area and the hot wort cooled down quickly. I removed the hop sacks from the wort before putting the sanitized cooling coil in the boil pot.

From 212F To 70F In Less Than 20 Minutes
My first choice for yeast was to pitch Wyeast 1968 - London ESB™ but I decided to try out White Labs WLP005 - British Ale Yeast™ instead. I've never used the White Labs yeast before although I have seen their somewhat unique way of packaging their yeast before. On a visit to an injection molding plant many years ago I saw the same type of White Labs yeast tubes, that is before they were formed into 1 liter bottles.

White Labs WLP005 - British Ale Yeast™
This yeast is pretty easy to use, just warm it to 70F and shake it up really well until it's uniform in consistency and color and it's ready to pitch. I split a single tube into 2 Mr. Beer sized batches as 1 tube will ferment up to 5 gallons of wort.

After 5 Hours Both Fermenters Showed Good Amounts Of Krausen
The White Labs website has a lot of information about all their yeast strains including WLP005, the lazy yeast. This yeast is a fast starter and highly floculant producing malty ales in a relatively short period of time. There is also much discussion among homebrewers about stalled fermentations and the manufacturer suggests rousing the yeast may be needed to re-suspend the yeast.

I pitched the yeast at 70F and put the fermenters in a 70F room and after 5 hours there was a good amount of krausen present already. When I checked the fermenters again after 15 hours of fermentation the krausen had already fallen a lot and the yeast was settled on the bottom of the fermenters. It seems this yeast unlike most Ale yeast ferments from the bottom up and racking early to a secondary will actually hurt the fermentation more than it will help.

Rousing The WLP005

On day 2, about 24 hours later, I noticed the krausen had fallen off alot. I remembered reading on the White Labs website that the WLP005 yeast may need to be roused back into action if the fermentation looked like it was stalling.

Re-energized Fermentation After Gentle Rousing Of Mr. Beer Fermenters
Apparently the folks at White Labs know their products as the gentle rousing stirred the yeast back into suspension and the fermentation really took off again. After 14 days of fermentation I took a final gravity reading of 1.011 and racked the fermented beer to my kegs for force carbonating.

Final Gravity Was 1.011 Before Kegging
I used a short piece of 3/8 inch outside diameter rigid tubing, that I cut off of a bottling wand, and a length of 3/8 inch inside diameter soft vinyl tubing to attach my Mr. Beer fermenter to my transfer tubing. This allows me to have a tight connection in the spigot and then use flexible tubing that is easy to position inside the keg.

Flexible Transfer Tube Allows Easy Positioning
Once the keg was full I sealed it tight and used Co2 to purge the air out of it by applying pressure while opening the relief valve a few times. Both kegs are inside the refrigerator at 34F and I'm applying 30 psi to each one to force carbonate them. Over the next few days I'll pull a sample pour to see how the carbonation levels are and then use about a 6 psi serving pressure. 

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