Homebrew Recipe: New Englandish Bitter

Homebrew Recipe - New Englandish Bitter

Illustration by Jeff Nelson

I hate to call this a session IPA but if you had to you could. It’s a sub-five percent ABV glucan-rich, non-“C” hop juice bomb, but it’s really got the soul (or at any rate, the malt, yeast, and ABV percentage) of a lovely imperial pint–sloshing bitter.

Here’s the plan: flavorful pale ale malt base (we’re calling for Golden Promise, but Maris Otter would be great too) with a lauter-tun punishing load of malted oats. Nothing but whirlpool and fermenter additions of extremely fruit-forward (melon, berry, and tropical versus strongly citrus/pine) hop varieties. Ferment with an estery yeast strain that makes a home in both UK and VT.

A recipe to try:

New Englandish Bitter

Target OG: 1.044, Target IBU: 30–35 (nominal)

Shopping list:

Grain

  • 5.5 pounds Simpsons Golden Promise
  • 2.75 pounds Crisp Malted Oats
  • Rice hulls

Hops

  • 3 ounces El Dorado
  • 3 ounces Mosaic

Yeast

  • Wyeast 1318 London Ale III or Yeast Bay Vermont Ale

Key Points for Key Pints:

Rice/oat hulls are your friend. If you do brew-in-a-bag (BIAB) mashing, you can skip ahead—no stuck mash for you. For my fellow fly-sparging Luddites, add a couple handfuls of preventative mash filtration aid at dough-in.

Bitterness vs. flavor/aroma. This is designed for maximum hop flavor and aroma, with bitterness as a side effect. We’ll get some amount of utilization/isomerization from the hop stand, but don’t worry overmuch about calculating it.

Can’t find malted oats? White wheat malt would be a good stand-in.

Other hops: Citra, Hüll Melon, Galaxy, or Vic Secret would mix in nicely at a 1:1 substitution rate.

Yeast: Strains of choice add complementary esters and texture to New England-style hop delivery systems: “Conan” and Wyeast 1318 are a couple options used by pros that are readily available to homebrewers.

To the home brewery!

Note: These steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process—refer to the instructions for your brew system, and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.

Prep

  1. Make a yeast starter prior to brew day.
  2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 166°F.
  3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop

Mash & Sparge

  1. Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 153–154°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
  2. While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
  3. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
  4. Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.

Boil

  1. Bring the wort to a boil and boil for 60 minutes.
  2. When the boil is complete, turn off the heat and add 1.5 ounces El Dorado and 1.5 ounces Mosaic to the kettle. Let the hops steep in the hot wort for 20–40 minutes prior to chilling.
  3. Cool it!

Fermentation and beyond

  1. Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.
  2. Depending on the yeast strain being used, aim for a fermentation temperature in the mid 60s. When fermentation activity begins to slow, add the remaining 1.5 ounces El Dorado and 1.5 ounces Mosaic to the fermentor as a dry hop addition.
  3. After 3–7 days contact with the dry hops, rack or package the green beer—New England IPA brewers don’t shy away from a little (or a lot) of turbidity in the presentation, so don’t worry about finings or a secondary unless you’re so inclined.
  4. This beer will drink best fresh, when the hop character is at its most pronounced—don’t delay gratification.

Until next time: drink it like you brewed it. Cheers!

 
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