English Extra Special Bitter (ESB)

After receiving a new bag of proper British malt I could finally focus on brewing classic English bitter ales, it’s one of those beers I have on tap almost always.

There’s nothing particularly special about this recipe, it uses Golden Promise instead of the more traditional Maris Otter but could be brewed with either. For hops, it’s EKG and yeast – English Ale, WLP002. Please note that it finished with a lower FG than anticipated, this might be due to the 2L starter I used.

For this recipe, I did not mash the special malts together with base malts, but at mashout instead. This is mainly to keep the astringency levels down and produce a less harsh flavour. A method I took from Gordon Strong’s books.



American-Style Pale Ale
  • Volume 25 l
  • OG 1.049
  • FG 1.009
  • IBU 72
  • ABV 5.25 %
  • 4 kg
    Pale Ale
    Germany Weyermann
    75.47 % GP 39
  • 0.5 kg
    Germany Weyermann
    9.43 % GP 4
  • 0.4 kg
    Wheat Malt
    7.55 % GP 3
  • 0.4 kg
    Barke Munich Malt
    Germany Weyermann
    7.55 % GP 3
  • 50 g
    Columbus | Boil 20min
    Pellet AA 15.3 % IBU 43
  • 20 g
    Amarillo | Boil 20min
    Pellet AA 8.6 % IBU 10
  • 10 g
    Chinook | Boil 20min
    Pellet AA 12.7 % IBU 7
  • 10 g
    Chinook | First Wort 60min
    Pellet AA 12.7 % IBU 12
  • 25 g
    Amarillo | Dry Hop 5d
    Pellet AA 8.6 % IBU 0
  • 25 g
    Columbus | Dry Hop 5d
    Pellet AA 14.9 % IBU 0
  • 25 g
    Chinook | Dry Hop 5d
    Pellet AA 12.7 % IBU 0
  • 1 pkg
    US-05 SafAle
    Fermentis / SafAle
    Attenuation 81.0 %


Started by opening a fresh bag of Thomas Fawcet’s Golden Promise
After applying malt conditioning it’s ready to be crushed
For this recipe I’ve used a different approach for speciality grains and instead of mashing them together with the base malt I’ll just steep them in at mashout. It’s Supposed to reduce potential astringency and any harsh taste that the highly kilned malt may contribute.
The malt crush is clearly less quality compared to the conditioned base malt, but as this will be just for steeping in a bag it’s not really a problem
Mashing in 32l of water at 70C, this results in a mash temp of or close to my target 66C
Measured out hop portions, Target and East Kent Goldings
A check with the thermometer confirms the target temperature is reached. The Braumeister is set to 60min at 66C and a 15min mash out step at 77C
For steeping the speciality grains I’m using a hop bag
After one hour mashing and into the mashout step I simply add the dark grain bag on top of the malt pipe for steeping. As the mash is still circulating the extract mixes well with the base malt wort
After 10 min or so I remove the ‘tea’ bag and prepare for lautering
I’ve noticed that with this method the wort is not as clear as usually, but that’s fine. After draining the malt pipe I boil it with hops for 60 min
10 min prior to boil end I throw in a piece of protafloc to improve the hot break. Once boil has finished I cool down the wort to around 20C or whatever my tap water allows that day
While the wort is cooling I prepare the fermenters by sanitising with Starsan
Specific gravity readings pre-boil 1.044 and post boil 1.051
Some hot break material got transferred as well, that’s fine
Yeast pitch temperature a bit below 17C and temperature controller left at 18C
Specific gravity reading at 1.010
After a week in the primary fermenter I moved the beer to a keg. Clarity is ok at this point. Taste slightly sweet and classic WLP002 esters
Now, normally I would move the keg to the fridge and force-carb, but as there’s no space I decided to add soome priming sugar and leave the keg at room temperature for a week
Closed transfer in progress
After a week at room temperature and priming the final gravity reading at around 1.009, bringing the ABV to ~5.5%


Tasting notes:


Amber, light copper. Very clear. Moderate carbonation.


Dominating caramel, lightly floral.


Light caramel sweetness followed by some toasty/biscuity notes. Earthy hop flavour. Moderate to moderate-high esters.


Medium-bodied with a firm bitterness. Balance more towards the bitter side.


A nice every day bitter, with a not too crazy caramel malt character. Next time I might add some Fuggle for extra flavour and aroma complexity. Overall not bad, a simple and drinkable ESB.

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