Monday 30 April 2012

Tasting : Boilerplate Bitter

Having bottled this beer about six weeks ago, I've had the chance to try it 7-8 times. I've been holding off on blogging about my thoughts on the beer, mainly because it's been pretty difficult to put it into words... a problem I find I have with a lot of beer tastings, due to my limited vocabulary and limited experience with many beer styles!

However, I think I can say now, unfortunately, that I'm not a huge fan of this beer. It's definitely a pretty tasty, sessionable beer, but in terms of how good it is as a Standard/Ordinary Bitter, I'd have to say it misses the mark. I blame this mostly on the Amber malt, which I had never used before and therefore probably should have used more sparingly. The 1/2 lb seems to have overpowered the contribution from the Crystal malts. So, the search for a house bitter continues... next time, I'd definitely lower (or even cut out?) the Amber malt quantity.

Appearance: Poured with a very small, white head that quickly fades to a film on top of the beer. Body is dark amber/light copper, with good - but not excellent - clarity.

Aroma: Difficult-to-place aroma... I find it very similar to Berley’s Best Bitter (a previous Special Bitter I brewed last year), but there was no Special Roast used in this recipe. Earthy, slightly spicy, almost with a bit of a chocolate note, likely due to the Amber malt. No noticeable fruity esters from the yeast. Malt aroma is lower than it should be, and the caramel quality is negligable.

Taste: Moderate earthy hop flavor, with moderate-high bitterness in the finish. Again, the malt presence is much lower than it probably should be, and fruitiness is at a bare minimum.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, medium-low carbonation.

Overall: Certainly not a bad beer, just not a very good Standard Bitter. Easy drinking, low alcohol, which is a plus. But the malt complexity is too low, as are the fruity esters from the yeast.


  1. Morning! Located your blog through Hoptomology. I enjoyed this article. I attempted my own best bitter this Sunday past, hope the colour is in the same ballpark of yours... looks great.

    For my own recipe I tried using a more characterful yeast, WLP022 Essex Ale. My concern is the fermentation temperature is quite low at the moment. Ambient temps in my fermenting room is 17c/63F

    Hope you don't mind, I added a link to your blog. -Craig (Ottawa)


    2. Thanks! I found your blog months ago, also through Hoptomology... nice work!

      I've never used the Essex Ale yeast before... interested to hear how your beer turns out. What's the temp range for that yeast? I know some English yeasts can handle 63 F (and if that's your ambient, I assume your fermentation temp, when active, will be 3-5 F higher), but sometimes the fruity character is diminished.