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Tasting – Invert Bitter

24/06/2014

invert_bitter

Recently I made another batch of one of my favorite styles : the humble ordinary bitter. This time I tried a few new things as some homemade invert sugar was added to the wort and the beer was fermented with a dried yeast strain, Mangrove Jack’s Burton Union M79. The hops were also a new variety for me, Whitbread Goldings. I’m about halfway through the keg now so here are my thoughts and tasting notes.

Appearance : Pours with a huge white head that has an egg-white thick quality. Sticks around and lots of lacing is left in the glass. The beer is crystal clear after a few weeks in the keg (was quite clear to begin with, M79 flocculates well). The colour is pale copper. A nice looking pint.

Smell : An earthy hop aroma. Some apple esters and a hint of pear.

Taste : Herbal-earthy hop taste. Some nice biscuit maltiness, typical of Maris Otter and hints of cream candy.  The bitterness is clean and soft. The beer is nicely balanced.

Mouthfeel :  The beer is a bit thin, though refreshing. Carbonation is a bit high, probably a result of naturally (over)carbonating the beer. This would be a nice summer beer – if there were any summer to speak of.

Notes/thoughts : A nice session beer. The invert worked well giving a nice cream candy taste to the beer. It does leave a bit of sweetness but the bitterness nicely balances it. As I thought, the addition of invert leaves the body a bit thin but whether or not that is a bad thing depends on how you like your session beers. Personally I don’t mind it, but some have disagreed. Perhaps it would work a bit better in a beer with a higher gravity, an ESB or perhaps even in an IPA, something that I’ll certainly try in the future.

The only thing that I’m not totally happy with is the hop character. Whitbread Goldings are to my palate very earthy and I think the beer would benefit from some orange marmelade-fruity “bright” hop character that you get from East Kent Goldings. I’ll try such a combination at some point since I have some of the Whitbread left in the freezer.

Finally, I’m very happy with what the Burton Union yeast contributed to the beer. The beer has some nice apple-pear esters that aren’t over the top and it lets the malt and hop character through nicely. It is also easy to work with, perhaps slower than some other British strains but flocculates well. I think it’s certainly a keeper based on the two beers that I’ve made with it. I’ll still occasionally try other strains for bitters but the ease and reliability of using dried yeast is a definite plus in my book.

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