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English Bitter, Its A Challenge...help !

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JFF

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Well, to cut a long story short. An english lady has challenged me to make an english bitter believing she can't get a decent drop in oz.

Now without going into the merits of the statement, I figured how could I decline such a challenge. Problem being, I've never made one.

Therefore, any recipe / assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Currently in stock is ...
Base Malts
Marris Otter
Pils
Vienna
LME (2kg)

Crystal/character (terminology ??)
Cara Pil (3.5)
Caramal Hell (28)
Cara Malt (50)
Melanoidin (70)

Plus ...
Some Choc, Roasted (1400), Wheat and flaked Barley

Hops
Fuggles, Saaz, Tettnang, Mittlefruh, cascade

Yeast
I figured on what I have (needing to get a starter happening) on 1028

Other options I think would be limiting given they are lager's (WL800,830,840) although I do have a 1056.

Now, I was hoping to avoid a trip to the brew shop on the weekend, but in the honour of us Aussie HB'ers, I will if I have to.

Well, there it is. If you can help.... I would certainly appreciate it.

Cheers
JFF
 

JasonY

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Hey JFF, been working on refining a decen ESB recipe of late the one below was the latest shot and is not a bad drop. Next one I make will have a reduced OG so I can get a drier finish, 1968 can be a bastard to get to attenuate full. 1028 should be a bit easier though.

I think the marris otter while expensive really lends itself well to these recipes, I have tried this one also with IMC ale malt and there is definately a nice malt flavour improvement with MO.

Hope it helps.

Code:
Recipe Specifics

----------------



Batch Size (L):          24.00    Wort Size (L):     24.00

Total Grain (kg):         5.59

Anticipated OG:          1.055    Plato:             13.66

Anticipated EBC:          19.7

Anticipated IBU:          35.4

Brewhouse Efficiency:       77 %

Wort Boil Time:             90    Minutes



Grain/Extract/Sugar



   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential EBC

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

  3.0     0.17 kg.  JWM Crystal 140               Australia      292.36    145

  1.8     0.10 kg.  JWM Wheat Malt                Australia      334.13      4

 91.2     5.10 kg.  TF Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt  UK             309.07      6

  3.6     0.20 kg.  IMC Munich                    Australia      317.42     12

  0.5     0.03 kg.  JWM Roasted Malt              Australia      267.30   1200



Potential represented as IOB- HWE ( L / kg ).





Hops

   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 12.00 g.     Wye Target                        Pellet  10.00  13.6  60 min.
 18.00 g.     Wye Challenger                    Pellet   7.00  14.2  60 min.
 30.00 g.     Goldings - E.K.                   Whole    5.00   7.6  15 min.


Yeast
-----

WYeast 1968 London Extra Special Bitter
[QUOTE]
 

AndrewQLD

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Hi JFF,

This recipe is more in the line of an Extra Special Bitter, but it is good (in my opinion anyway) :rolleyes: . I have made this my standard ESB beer,and this is what my notes say for the tasting.
"Lovely hop aroma and flavour, Nice bitterness. Good malt flavour balanced well with the bitterness. A nice all EKG Bitter".

The recipe comes from the English brew book " Real Ales For The Home Brewer by Marc Ollosson".

Recipe: Bosun Best Bitter
Brewer: Andrew Clark
Asst Brewer:
Style: English Special or Best Bitter
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (46.0) Lovely hop aroma and flavour, Nice bitterness. Good malt flavour balanced well with the bitterness. A nice all EKG Bitter.

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 23.00 L
Boil Size: 25.76 L
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated Color: 13.6 EBC
Estimated IBU: 38.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.50 kg Marris Otter Malt (4.0 EBC) Grain 88.2 %
0.40 kg Caramunich Malt (80.0 EBC) Grain 7.8 %
0.20 kg Wheat Malt Malt Craft (4.0 EBC) Grain 3.9 %
60.00 gm Goldings, [5.30%] (90 min) Hops 32.7 IBU
20.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.60%] (15 min) Hops 5.5 IBU
20.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [5.60%] (Dry Hop 7 daHops -
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs SafAle English Ale (DCL Yeast #S-04) Yeast-Ale


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 5.10 kg
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Mash In Add 15.30 L of water at 73.6 C 67.8 C 60 min


I have made this beer with a couple of liquid yeasts, White labs dry english ale, and their irish ale yeast with great results.

I am not a big fan of the standard crystal malts as they tend to give a caramel flavor to the beer that can be quite overpowering, the caramunich is subtle but definately there, also the Marris Otter is pretty malty so the crystal is not really required.

And the dry hopping is a must if you want it to be like the stuff they serve in the old Dart.

Hope this helps

Andrew
 

Sean

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If you want something an Englishman (or woman) would describe as an English bitter you are looking for something around 1040 O.G give or take 5.

Choosing from your range of ingredients, pale ale malt (maris otter will do fine, but most english beer is produced from other malting barleys such as pipkin, and regina), a touch of crystal malt and just a little bit of sugar (my preference is to use golden syrup as easy source of invert sugar). Just a smallest amount of wheat if you feel like it (no more than 5%). Hop with fuggles or any other english variety. Any English ale yeast will do - depending on availablilty and preference.


ESB is really an overseas style based on one terrific but atypical English beer (Fullers ESB) and so is not what any English person expects from an English Bitter.
 

AndrewQLD

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Actually ESB is a recognised and very popular English style of beer. The difference with an ESB over an Ordinary bitter is slightly higher alcohol levels and slightly more hop character, while I would agree that the name Extra Special Bitter is a trade marked name for Fullers, and has been taken on board by many brewing associations around the world to describe this style of beer, it is non the less brewed by many breweries in England, and although it is not named ESB the style is the same.

Have alook at some of these small breweries http://www.beermad.org.uk/cgi-bin/breweryl...land&nographic=
 

wee stu

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JFF - this is a variation of my first attempt at an English bitter, modified a bit to suit your base malt and yeast choice. I actually used Barrrat and Burston's Galaxy Malt and Windsor Ale Dried Yeast. Hopping was with Fuggles though. Very loose adaption of Lord Crouchback's Special Bitter in John Palmer's How to brew. Was looking for a simple two hop two grain brew to get started with.

Mine was quite light in style but a pleasant drop, nice malt and hop balance. Took out best of class at ANAWBS in a fluke of nature never to be repeated. The Marris Otter should beef up the malt character nicely.


Recipe: Eurilpa Bitter
Brewer: Wee Stu
Asst Brewer:
Style: English Ordinary Bitter
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 22.00 L
Boil Size: 25.18 L
Estimated OG: 1.044 SG
Estimated Color: 6.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 39.4 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
4.20 kg TF Maris Otter Pale Ale Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 92.3 %
0.35 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 30L (30.0 SRM) Grain 7.7 %
30.00 gm Challenger [7.00%] (60 min) Hops 24.3 IBU
28.00 gm Fuggles [5.00%] (30 min) Hops 11.4 IBU
14.00 gm Fuggles [5.00%] (15 min) Hops 3.7 IBU
0.30 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) Yeast-Ale


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 4.55 kg
----------------------------
Name Description Step Temp Step Time
Mash In Add 11.87 L of water at 74.4 C 67.8 C 60 min


Notes:
------
First attempt at an all grain beer!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Rubes

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You get (Ordinary) Bitters, (Special) Bitters and (Extra Special) Bitters getting progessively stronger in alcohol and flavour.

Most Bitters are fairly light on the alcohol ranging from only 3.5-4.0%. A surprising number of the breweries use quite a lot of adjuncts - 10% of some form of non-malt sugar in the copper is not uncommon.

This recipe for Timothy Taylor Best Bitter comes from Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home by Wheeler and Protz. Never made it but it should be a good drop. TT makes nice beer.

23L O.G. 1037 F.G. 1009
Pale Malt 3600G (85%)
Crystal Malt 630G (15%)
Goldings 28g (start of boil)
Fuggles 30g (start of boil)
Styrian Goldings 16g (start of boil)
Goldings 15g (last 15 mins)

Mash @ 66oC for 90mins with 10L mash liquor
Boil for 2 hours

Converting the hops to a Fuggles only version should save you a trip to the brew shop.

Oh and just to confuse things most Bitters are actually Pale Ales or at least clasiffied that way by CAMRA!?! Examples Banks and Taylor Shefford Bitter, Boddington's Bitter, Brakspear Bitter, Courage Best Bitter, Marston Pedigree Bitter, the recipe above etc. Go figure. Perhaps it is one of those quaint English customs?
 

wee stu

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Rubes said:
You get (Ordinary) Bitters, (Special) Bitters and (Extra Special) Bitters getting progessively stronger in alcohol and flavour. Most Bitters are fairly light on the alcohol ranging from only 3.5-4.0%.

Perhaps it is one of those quaint English customs?
By the books my recipe is probably a "special" or "best" bitter, but it's lightness of feel in the end brew belied that so I called it an "ordinary".
Maybe that is just one of those quaint Scottish customs, eh Rubes?
And welcome back, where ye been?
 

jaytee

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I've brewed a few extract bitters lately.

Unfortunately I started with an ESB (OG 1.055) and have worked downwards to a Special (OG 1.045) and lastly an Ordinary (OG 1.038).

I started with the ESB at about 40 IBU which gave me a BU:OG ratio of about 70% and I've tried to keep that ratio through the Special and Ordinary

Ingredients have been Light LME, crystal and wheat

The Ordinary has been an ok beer, but after the delights of the Special and particularly the ESB, have seemed lacking in comparison !

I guess a lot of our appreciation of a beer comes from our expectations.

Brew her an ESB or Special - always better to exceed the expectation than fall short !
 

Jase

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jaytee said:
I've brewed a few extract bitters lately.

Ingredients have been Light LME, crystal and wheat
Hi Jaytee,

Any chance of having a look at the recipes?

Cheers,
Jase
 

Snow

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I made a version of Mike Day's ESB which won the Nationals last year. It is a fantastic beer and scored very well at the Qld champs last month. Unfortunately the judges docked it heavily because I used American hops in it. The judging notes said it would have been a "great" beer if I had used English hops. So, replace the Chinook with Goldings or Fuggles and you'll be sweet!

Here's the recipe (for a partial mash):
2.5kg Marris Otter Pale Ale Malt
500g Medium crystal malt
967g LME - 15 mins
543g DME - 15 mins
55g Goldings pellets - 60 mins
25g Goldings pellets - 15 mins
18g Chinook pellets - flameout
1 teaspoon gypsum - in wort runnings
1 teaspoon Irish Moss - 15 mins
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient - 15 mins
Whitelabs WLP013 London Ale Yeast

Mash at 68C for 75 mins.

Cheers - Snow
 

Sean

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AndrewQLD said:
Actually ESB is a recognised and very popular English style of beer. The difference with an ESB over an Ordinary bitter is slightly higher alcohol levels and slightly more hop character, while I would agree that the name Extra Special Bitter is a trade marked name for Fullers, and has been taken on board by many brewing associations around the world to describe this style of beer, it is non the less brewed by many breweries in England, and although it is not named ESB the style is the same.

Have alook at some of these small breweries http://www.beermad.org.uk/cgi-bin/breweryl...land&nographic=
I can't speak for the UK homebrewing community, but as a longstanding and extreamly active member of the Campaign for Real Ale and very experienced beer festival organiser I can assure you that there is no such style as "ESB" recognised by UK beer enthusiasts.

There are a few beers out there inspired by Fullers ESB (though I've yet to taste one that comes even vaguely close) the is no corresponding recognised style within England under any name. No-one in CAMRA would seriously suggest that it's possible to categorise the vast majority of strong, light to medium coloured English beers. The idea that you can is a fiction generated by largely foreign homebrewing communities.

Regardless, bitter or english bitter unqualified definitely implies something less than 4.5%ABV at the absolute most in England.
 

Sean

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jaytee said:
I've brewed a few extract bitters lately.

Unfortunately I started with an ESB (OG 1.055) and have worked downwards to a Special (OG 1.045) and lastly an Ordinary (OG 1.038).

I started with the ESB at about 40 IBU which gave me a BU:OG ratio of about 70% and I've tried to keep that ratio through the Special and Ordinary

Ingredients have been Light LME, crystal and wheat

The Ordinary has been an ok beer, but after the delights of the Special and particularly the ESB, have seemed lacking in comparison !

I guess a lot of our appreciation of a beer comes from our expectations.

Brew her an ESB or Special - always better to exceed the expectation than fall short !
Brewing a low strength English beer (Mild or Bitter) requires far more skill to do really well than a stronger one. In that sense going for a stronger one makes more sense.

On the other hand, if she's feeling homesick for a standard Bitter, then a strong beer is not going to fit the bill.
 

Sean

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Rubes said:
Most Bitters are fairly light on the alcohol ranging from only 3.5-4.0%. A surprising number of the breweries use quite a lot of adjuncts - 10% of some form of non-malt sugar in the copper is not uncommon.

This recipe for Timothy Taylor Best Bitter comes from Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home by Wheeler and Protz. Never made it but it should be a good drop. TT makes nice beer.

23L O.G. 1037 F.G. 1009
Pale Malt 3600G (85%)
Crystal Malt 630G (15%)
Goldings 28g (start of boil)
Fuggles 30g (start of boil)
Styrian Goldings 16g (start of boil)
Goldings 15g (last 15 mins)

Mash @ 66oC for 90mins with 10L mash liquor
Boil for 2 hours

Converting the hops to a Fuggles only version should save you a trip to the brew shop.

Oh and just to confuse things most Bitters are actually Pale Ales or at least clasiffied that way by CAMRA!?! Examples Banks and Taylor Shefford Bitter, Boddington's Bitter, Brakspear Bitter, Courage Best Bitter, Marston Pedigree Bitter, the recipe above etc. Go figure. Perhaps it is one of those quaint English customs?
Most Bitters are fairly light on the alcohol ranging from only 3.5-4.0%. A surprising number of the breweries use quite a lot of adjuncts - 10% of some form of non-malt sugar in the copper is not uncommon.
Including many of the best beers from the best older breweries. Much less so in the micro-brewing world.

This recipe for Timothy Taylor Best Bitter comes from Brew Your Own Real Ale at Home by Wheeler and Protz. Never made it but it should be a good drop. TT makes nice beer.
Timmy Taylors do indeed make stunning beers, though their Best Bitter is probably their least good. IIRC they brew in Yorkshire Squares, so unless you can duplicate this with a suitable yeast and fermentation regime you're unlikely to come close to duplicating their beer.

Oh and just to confuse things most Bitters are actually Pale Ales or at least clasiffied that way by CAMRA!?!
I don't know where you get this from. There is no English distinction between Bitter and Pale Ale. For most of the 20th C Pale Ale has tended to be used for bottled beers (not bottle conditioned) and Bitter for Cask Conditioned and keg beers, although even then I can think of several examples of breweries using the terms interchangably for the same beer. These days there is no difference.
 

MAH

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JFF said:
Well, to cut a long story short. An english lady has challenged me to make an english bitter believing she can't get a decent drop in oz.
Hi JFF

I think you need to start with this womans request. Many of the recipes you've been given have merit but wouldn't be what she has in mind.

To start with the Bitters she would be used to are probably between 3.5% - 4.0% ABV. Therefore I would start with an OG of around 1.038 -1.040.

Next is your malt. I know many craft brewers like to add character malts like Munich etc, but it's unlikely that is what she is looking for. English breweries start with a good pale ale malt. With what you have in stock that would be Marris Otter. Next they would typically add some crystal malt up to about 5%. Many breweries would then leave it at this. Some might add wheat, usually as torrefied wheat, up to about 5%. IMHO the wheat is not necessary. Some other breweries might use some sugar, but this is usually for cost cutting reasons.

So I would suggest a simple 95% Marris Otter and 5% crystal malt bill. (this is basically how I make my bitters, but I use 2.5% Crystal and 2.5% CaraAroma).

Next is hops. The commercial breweries are likely to use hops like Target or Progress for most of the hops and maybe some Golding for late additions. My preference is a 50/50 blend of Fuggle and Golding, and it's a pretty traditional approach. Make additions at 60, 20 and 5 minutes to give a nice bitter/flavour/aroma hop pofile. Aim for about 25-28IBU's. On the issue of dry hoping, this is not a common practice for commercial brewers and is more associated with real ale makers. I'd say give it a miss, as agai it is not likely to be something she is used to.

Next is your yeast. This is purely personal preference, but an English ale yeast is a must. The 1028 that you already have is an absolute cracker, and one of my favourites. Recently I've used Ringwod Ale yeast, which was also brilliant. It gives a fantastic caramel note, which is not uncommon in an English ale. However it does need a bit of maturing as when it's young the carmael notes are a bit overpowering.

Lastly there is the issue of serving, which others have neglected. This woman probably thinks Aussie beers are too gasy and too cold, so keep the carbonation low, and hopefully she drinks it at around 10C.

Overall, I would say keep it simple,because this is what she would be used to.

Cheers
MAH
 

locost

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On the naming of Bitter, most British breweries will have several Bitters in their product range an many of them are not very origininal in the nameing of these products. Hence at Young's you have Young's Bitter and (at a higher gravity) Young's Special Bitter (which is why Londoner's dubbed Youngs basic bitter "Ordinary Bitter"). You see similar approaches accross the country, for example Theakston's markets a "Best Bitter" alongside several other Bitters. ESB is a brand name of Fuller's and then name was adopted in the early seventies when a seasonal special (a high gravity Bitter) became a year round product (I suspect the name Extra Special Bitter was coined because it was a shot accross the bow of Young's Special Bitter). The phrase ESB tickled the imagination of those memebers American homebrew community who visited the UK, never travelled outside London and assumed that ESB characterised the nomenclature adopted for Bitter throughout Britian. But travel "oop North" and ask for an ESB and all you'll get is a blank response from the barman.

Another thing that annoys/confuses Americans is the Brit's willingness to reasurrect the IPA name to identify one of the Bitters in its portfolio (Flower's IPA is an example). Of course, Americans argue that these British IPA's are too low in gravity and bitterness to be true IPA's; but I have a theory that since most IPA were actually drunk diluted with water, most modern British Bitter more closely resemble historical IPA (as it was consumed) than anything you'll find at a US micro.

On the difference between Pale Ale and Bitter, realistically there is none. The term bitter was coined in the pub, to differentiate is from the mild ales most breweries offered at the time. The reason why the bottled product ended up attracting the name Pale Ale whilst the draft product became better known as Bitter has an aweful lot to do with a simple reality operating in the British Beer Market at the time. Those who tended to consume their beer out of the bottle were less likely to visit the pub regularly, and so never got into the habit of calling a Pale Ale "Bitter".
 

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mah's advice seems the best here.
although i would bump up the IBUs to 30 or so personally.

i wouldn't use 100% fuggles, it gives a strange aniseedy taste. go for a mix of fuggles and goldings, or chuck in progress, challenger, a pinch of styrian. give target a miss it's the POR of british beer. nasty high cohumulone stuff. but you can't go wrong with goldings.
some of the NZ versions of goldings, styrian etc are nice in a bitter, although a bit tangy.

maris otter is good stuff if you want fat malt flavour. golden promise is also nice if you want to make a lighter landlord type of thing.

also one thing i don't think anyone's mentioned, is burtonising water. if you can throw in some gypsum (up to 15g or so) it really helps get you towards an authentic english taste and mouthfeel.

and don't prime your bottles! and drink em fresh.
 

Sean

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I'd agree with most of what MAH just said this except:
Sugar - while it's undoubtably true that many English breweries use sugar for cost reasons, there are heaps of examples of first rate breweries that use sugar for flavour reasons (most famously Harvey's). Many excellent breweries (such as one I won't name in a small, East Anglian seaside town) don't like to admit their use of sugar because it has a bad name in CAMRA circles.


With regard to dry hopping, it's true this is reserved for real-ales, but if she isn't looking for a real ale then she won't be expecting much character at all - go for a Whitbread yeast (Wyeast English Ale is ideal) or some other low character yeast, etc and definitely use some sugar. If she is after a real-ale flavour it may or may not be dry hopped - dry hopping is practiced by a minority of even real ale brewers because of the inconsistency it gives depending on the age of the cask when it comes to be served. If you do dry hop it should be fuggles or goldings - generally 1 plug (14g) per firkin (9 UK gallons) is the English rate unless you are trying to clone Fullers ESB in which case you need masses of the stuff. FWIW, real ales should be served at 12C, although I'll admit to serving at 10 over here because the stuff warms up so damn quickly in the glass.
 

locost

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Wouldn't mind some guidlines on Bitter brewing, I've seem US recipes that rely on huge proprtions of crystal; but, I have the idea that 10% at most would be the limit in the UK.
 

MAH

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Locost

10% crystal would be far more than I would add. Most texts talk about 5% as the limit.

In many ways Bitters are very simple, because the grain bill primarily relys on a good quality pale ale malt. Anything else should be added in small amounts to give a minor tweaking to flavour of the base malt. It's all about adding subtle complexities (leave the in-ya-face stuff to the brewers of APA's ;) ).

With the hops it's a similar story. Good quality hops, usually Golding and Fuggle, are used to give a nice bittering, with good flavour and aroma. The trick is to be balanced. By their very nature a Bitter should be just that, but not to the extent of some American hop monsters.

Then it's down to yeast. A lot of the character for Bitters comes from the yeast. I've being doing a few split batches with 2 different yeast and I'm amazed at how big an impact it has.

In theory these are very simple beers, because they rely on so few ingredients, but in practice they can be quite difficult because you can't hide your mistakes behind a huge malt bill or hop schedule. It can be a bit tricky not to make a one dimensional beer when you are only using 2 grains and a single variety of hops with an OG of 1.038.

Cheers
MAH
 

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