Bitter Royals: Tasting Notes

Recipe and brew log

Brewed on: May 4 2014
Bottled on: May 25 2014
OG: 1.041
FG: 1.012
ABV: 3.8%
IBU: 31



Appearance: Clear copper with orange highlights. This yeast doesn’t flocculate too tight at the bottom of the bottles, so some are clearer than others. Really quite a nice looking beer when I get the pour right. Minimal, eggshell head that fades to a ring due to (appropriately) low carbonation.

Aroma: An aroma that I can only describe as ‘English pale malt’ comes through first, with some supporting notes of toffee, earthy hops and a very subtle yeast character. I was hoping for a more clear aroma, none of the qualities I described above are very well accentuated. I think changing up the yeast strain could address this, and possibly the inclusion of a small dry hop as is certainly reasonable/traditional for the style.

Taste: Quite a drinkable beer. Crisp malt up front – slight caramel and toast – leading to a firm bitterness that doesn’t linger. The low carbonation seems to accentuate the malt flavour, and the beer doesn’t taste as bitter as the IBUs would otherwise indicate. I’d say that the malt and hops are balanced quite well, and this being a very standard recipe from a good source, it makes sense.

Overall: This beer doesn’t come together into a cohesive whole the way the best English bitters I’ve had did. My first foray into adjusting mash pH with acidulated malt has proven successful in producing a beer with defined taste, and I will definitely be considering brew pH and adjusting with salts or acid malt in all light-coloured brews in the future. It would be very interesting to try a “session IPA” style beer with this malt bill – at 3.8% ABV it’s not drinking extremely light-bodied, and could stand up well to a large dose of late and dry hops, leaving a beer that tastes like more than just hop water – a problem plaguing many of the session IPAs I have tasted. I’ll either try the entire beer again and sub out the yeast, or completely bastardize the hopping to something more American.


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