What To Do With An English Bitter

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fifis101

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I've just put down a coppers English bitter but trying to think of something to add to mix is up. With porters & stouts I normally like to add things that make them more sweeter & smoother etc but I'm left a little unsure on the bitter. What are your thoughts? Would a salted caramel work or maybe a raspberry?
 

Sidney Harbour-Bridge

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I love English bitter, was weaned on the stuff back in the UK, I like it well attenuated so it's dry and bitter, if you want sweet beer, bitter is not for you.

Dry wheat malt extract could be added if it's still fermenting which might be good, and a dry hop, I recommend fuggles.
 

elmoMakesBeer

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I have no expert knowledge of English (/style) bitters, but I do enjoy them. I've used East Kent Goldings in strong bitters and they have gone down a treat. I'm sure fuggles is great choice too but I'm yet to taste it in my own brews - my first brew with fuggles is currently sitting in a hot cube and the hops and wort smelt great.
If it's fermenting already I suggest dry hopping with EKG or fuggles, but don't go crazy - you want enough to smell and taste it but too much dry hops and it won't be an English bitter but an IPA done wrong. Most English styles should be reasonably balanced between maltiness and hoppiness. A 20-40g dry hop should work well in a single batch - I use 30 g in a strong bitter. If it's not fermenting yet you could consider a partial boil with a similar quantity of late hops as well - again don't go for too much.
 
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If you add sweetening ingredients, fruit or most other non-malt, non-hop flavourings, it's not an English bitter, but may still be a beer to your taste. Few, if any, on this site would go there, but we're here to advise, not hunt out heresy. In that spirit I'll offer a little advice.

Opening up you fermenter and at this point adding ingredients other than hops is risky in many ways. I'd leave the batch alone and stir in whatever you like at serving time.

For future reference on what to do before putting up the batch:

Fruit-added beers are generally low in bittering and not too assertive in hop flavour. Like porters.

Caramelized sugar and caramel malt add sweetness and caramel flavour. They also darken the beer. You could caramelise a sugar solution on the stove. Better, do a search for "steeping caramel malts," study and proceed.

Lactose adds sweetness alone.

Consider switching the yeast to Windsor, which leaves one sugar in the wort, maltotriose, unfermented.
 

Brewed_Force

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I brewed this and steeped a small amount of crystal malt and used DME instead of sugar, this took it up a level in flavour and mouthfeel.
If it's already in the fermenter then, as others have suggested, try dry hopping with a traditional English hop (EKG, Fuggle, Brewer's Gold, etc.).
I tend not to dry hop as I don't get through my beer quickly enough and the dry hop flavour has dissipated by the time I open the bottles!
 

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