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Salsbury's ESB v1.3

I entered my ESB v1.2 at Barley's and received some decent scores (28-33), but there were comments about how it was much too bitter (and one from a third judge saying it had no hops bitterness at all).  I'm inclined to agree with the judges who found it too bitter.  This time around, I want to fix that, so I can put the modified version into competition.

Ingredients

3.5 pounds Muntons Maris Otter Malt
12 ounces Caramel 40L
8 ounces Caramel 60L
6 ounces Caramel 10L
6 ounces Victory Malt
0.4 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.2% AA (60 min.)
0.4 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.2% AA (30 min.)
0.4 ounces Styrian Goldings @ 6.2% AA (10 min.)
1 packet Lallemand ESB Yeast
1/2 vial White Labs Clarity Ferm
3 gallons plus 16 ounces starting water

According to the Picobrew recipe crafter, this beer should have the following characteristics:

  • Style: 11.C Strong Bitter
  • Original Gravity (OG): 1.057 SG
  • Final Gravity (FG): 1.017 SG
  • IBUs: 31
  • SRM: 15
  • ABV: 5.2%
  • Batch Size: 2.5 gallons
After brewing, I had 2.3 gallons, but once diluted to 2.5 gallons with distilled water, the gravity dropped to 1.056 SG (more or less the target).

BeerSmith estimates that this beer will clock in around 38 IBUs (where the last version calculated over 50 IBUs) so there should be a significant reduction in bitterness.

Post-Brew Notes

04/27/2018:  This recipe version increases the Caramel Malt and Victory Malt, but removes the Special B I added to version 1.2.  It also goes back to the Lallemand ESB yeast and ditches the White Labs Thames Valley yeast that didn't seem to contribute anything to the beer.  Hops quantities were dialed back from something in the vicinity of 1.7 ounces down to 1.2 ounces.  That should reduce the bitterness levels back to something more palatable to the judges (and to me, hopefully).

04/29/2018:  The airlock on the fermenter has slowed way down, and the krausen inside the fermenter seems to have mostly dropped.  A quick taste of the beer yielded mild but pleasant sweetness, not too much hop bitterness, and a nice malt backdrop.  I'm hoping the finished beer will match up to this.

05/08/2018:  To ensure that I have bottles ready for competition, I bottled six bottles today. I left the rest in the fermenter in the mini-fridge to clarify.  Each bottle was dosed with a single Coopers carbonation drop.  I didn't take a gravity reading.

05/11/2018:  Not that I expected differently, but I opened a bottle of the beer to determine if it was carbonated enough to deliver to the competition. It was not.

05/12/2018:  I bottled the remainder of the batch today, with one Coopers carbonation drop per bottle. Yield was 20 bottles (plus the 6 bottles filled on May 8).  Final gravity read 8.5 Brix, which calculates to 1.020 SG in BeerSmith, and a final ABV of 4.8% (approximately).  This has left the beer with some residual sweetness that reminds me of the Fuller's ESB. If I can get it carbonated in time, it may do well in competition.  If not, I'll take the version 1.1 beer.

05/16/2018: The beer has carbonated nicely and any trace of diacetyl has gone out of it. Below is my self-score using BJCP criteria and scoresheet format:

  • Aroma (8/12): Mild hop aroma with caramel backdrop. Slightly fruity. No diacetyl. Overall the aroma is nicely balanced.
  • Appearance (2/3): Coppery amber color with a bit more than finger-thick head. Decent clarity but there is a touch of haze to it. With a few days in a fridge, I suspect it would be brilliantly clear. The head lasts quite a while.
  • Flavor (15/20): Medium bitterness, followed by caramel and toasty notes, with a hint of fruit (a kind of berry note). Balance is slightly toward hops, but overall balanced.
  • Mouthfeel (4/5): Medium, almost creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation. No warming alcohol note (which is appropriate for the style.
  • Overall (7/10): With a bit more clarity, the color and long-lasting head would lend a perfect appearance. The aroma is subtle but blends hops, malt, and a touch of fruit.  The flavor blends an obvious but not overpowering hops presence with a nuanced malt backdrop. Could maybe use a touch more sweetness and perhaps a small mineral addition to the water. 
  • Total Score: 36/50

The previous version, which came out over-hopped, scored a 30.5 average at Barley's.  Most of the lost points were around the bitterness and darker color. This version is lighter in color and considerably less bitter. I've purchased ESB style beers that I liked less than this one, so I am quite happy with it. I might experiment with other English hops and minerals in a future version, but this is close to my ideal ESB.

It will be interesting to see how the judges react at the Rhinegeist competition, and in a few weeks at the Ohio State Fair.

05/21/2018: The scoresheets from the Rhinegeist competition were posted.  The beer scored a 32/50 from one judge and a 35/50 from the other, for a 33.5 official score.  The judges' biggest suggestions were that they'd like to see more malt aroma and flavor, more hop flavor and aroma, and more malt complexity.  My self score was about 2.5 points higher than the official score, which seems to be a trend. I appear to score myself about 3 points higher than the judges do.

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