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Salsbury's ESB v1.2

Looks a bit darker here than it really is
My last Extra Special Bitter (ESB) used continual hopping with Styrian Goldings. This version abandons that (primarily because the Zymatic can't simulate it) in favor of four hop additions.  This version also includes an ounce of Special B to bump up the malt complexity slightly. I'll also use Wyeast Thames Valley Ale Yeast this time around because I'm already using half the package for the Manny's Pale Ale clone I'm brewing and it'll shave a little off the cost of this batch. According to Wyeast's web site, this is an appropriate ESB yeast.  I've also decided to add a few pellets of East Kent Goldings to bring a little bit of a familiar flavor to the beer without overwhelming it.


3.5 pounds Maris Otter Malt
10 ounces Crystal 40L
7 ounces Crystal 60L
5 ounces Crystal 10L
5 ounces Victory malt
1 ounce Special B
0.30 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (60 min.)
2 pellets East Kent Goldings @ 5.3% AA (60 min.)
0.30 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (30 min.)
3 pellets East Kent Goldings (30 min.)
0.55 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (15 min.)
5-6 pellets East Kent Goldings (15 min.)
0.55 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.3% AA (5 min.)
5-6 pellets East Kent Goldings (5 min.)
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
1/2 packet White Labs Thames Valley Ale 1275 yeast

The PicoBrew recipe crafter suggests that the beer will have the following characteristics:
  • Estimated Original Gravity: 1.055 SG
  • Estimated Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
  • IBUs: 33
  • SRM: 17
  • ABV: 5.1%
  • Starting Water: 3.12 gallons
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
Actual results post-brewing were:
  • Actual Original Gravity: 11.1 Brix (adjusts to 1.046 SG, 9 points below expected gravity)
  • Actual Final Gravity: 1.002 SG
  • Batch Size: 2.3 to 2.4 gallons
  • ABV: 5.1%
Brewing Notes

The brew went according to plan, though the grain bed did not get completely soaked. The edges in the front and back on the left-hand side remained dry. Despite that, gravity came out fairly close to the expected number and the volume was closer than I've often been with the Zymatic.

I pitched half of the yeast in the Pale Ale and the other half in the ESB.  I also pitched half of a vial of Clarity Ferm into each beer, to remove the gluten and help reduce chill haze.

After brewing this batch, I re-read the Zymatic manual on the subject of cleaning. I ran two full rinse cycles through the machine, washed the step filter, and re-read the manual on the subject of cleaning. I removed the posts from the keg to find that they were badly soiled. I removed them, disassembled them, and cleaned them well with PBW. After rinsing them, I reassembled them and the were good as new.  The dip tubes were also cleaned.  I'm ashamed to admit that I missed that part of the cleaning process in the manual.  That explains some of the trouble the system seemed to be having flowing wort in and out during the brew.

02/28/2018:  After a couple of evenings of the airlock on the fermenter appearing totally still, tonight there is some bubbling from the airlock.  When you place just over 2 gallons in a 7.5 gallon fermenter, it takes a while for the yeast to generate enough CO2 to cause airlock activity.

03/02/2018:  I've kept the beer in a cooler part of the basement in lieu of temperature control. The thermometer has shown it staying down in the lower 60's despite airlock activity being visible now. A sample pulled from the fermenter was a little sulfury by not very sugary, indicating that fermentation is moving along nicely.

03/05/2018:  The airlock activity has been non-existent for a couple of days, so I have dosed the beer with gelatin finings and moved it into my mini-fridge to cold crash for a few days before bottling.

03/10/2018:  The beer was bottled today, using 1.5 ounces of corn sugar. Yield was 24 twelve-ounce bottles. The bottles were placed in a 72F "hot box" for conditioning.  Final gravity registered 4.75 Brix on my refractometer. Given the OG, BeerSmith calculates that the beer finished at 5.7% ABV and claims the FG is 1.002 SG.  It should be ready to taste test on March 18.

03/17/2018:  I poured a bottle of the beer to try it out. There was a strong diacetyl aroma to it, but the flavor was otherwise fine. I will need to give this beer more time to condition, so that (hopefully) the yeast will clean up this buttery aroma.

03/29/2018:  I opened another bottle tonight. It poured a nice deep copper color with finger-thick beige head that lasted quite a while and left some spotty lacing in the glass. The aroma is primarily malty with a touch of herbal hops.  The flavor starts with a mild hop bitterness, which gives way to a malt-filled middle that mixes hints of biscuit, slightly toasty, and a hint of caramel and plum. The mouthfeel is medium bodied.  For my taste, it's a touch too dry and bitter, but not extremely so. The diacetyl I detected in the earlier tasting is gone now. I need to do a side-by-side with v1.1 to see whether I want to take v1.1 or v1.2 into competition.

04/07/2018:  It occurred to me why the beer seems too bitter. The hopping was based on a final volume of 2.5 gallons, but the Zymatic rarely produces a batch that high. When you recalculate the IBUs based on the actual yield of 2.3 to 2.4 gallons, the bitterness rises from 33 IBUs to over 47 IBUS. This is still within the BJCP guidelines for the style, but only barely.  This implies that I need to revamp my hopping in future to assume a 2.3 gallon batch in order to avoid over-bittering.

04/09/2018:  Three bottles of the beer were left at Barley's Ale House for their annual home brewing competition. I should have the results in a couple of weeks.

04/23/2018:  The results from Barley's Homebrewing Competition are in.  This beer received 28, 30, and 33 total scores from three separate judges.  Below are some of their comments:

  • Aroma (scores 5, 6, and 8)
    • Dark malt in aroma
    • Caramel note, grassy
    • Fruity aroma, apple
  • Appearance (scores 1, 3, and 3)
    • Golden brown, good clarity, light head retention
    • Rich rusty color, clear, good foam lacing
    • Dark red color is perhaps a bit dark for style, good clarity
  • Flavor (scores 10, 14, and 12)
    • Bitter, almost astringent and lingering. Doesn't beg for another sip. Not good malt balance.
    • Bready, strong notes of British malt bill, caramel/vienna?, herby bitterness, borders on astringent finish
    • Very malty, but dry. Biscuity, toasty. Nice malt flavor but really lacking hop flavor and bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel (scores 3, 3, and 5)
    • Carbonated well, a little light
    • A little thin, but drinkable
    • Medium body is good. Good carbonation
  • Overall impression (5, and 7)
    • Needs better balance and lighter color. Back off some of the darker malts and replace with lighter caramel.
    • Solid take on style. Hops seem slightly overbearing on the end.
    • Flavor is nice and clean, but almost totally lacking in hop character that you would expect for this style.
Note that each bullet above represents the comments of one specific judge.  While the scores were within a 5-point range, the judges' comments were interesting.  One judge described it as lacking hop character and bitterness, while the other two felt (as I do) that it was a bit too bitter.  My own quick score for the beer was a 35, which is a bit higher than the Barley's judges, but close enough.


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