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Tasting – First Gold Bitter



Ordinary bitter is one of the styles I like to brew often : it’s low on alcohol, doesn’t tire your palate after a few pints like some heavily hopped styles can and it is also fairly simple to brew. I don’t really consciously tune recipes like some home brewers do but I’d say that ordinary bitter is the one style where my attempts have been fairly close to each other and where I have gradually learned to improve the end result. The style is fairly delicate because the gravity is low and there isn’t a wall of hops that could hide some defects. Small changes can have a big impact like this batch fermented with White Labs 006 shows.

Appearance : Looks the part : dark copper body under a white head. As the level goes down a rich lacing is left in the glass. It’s interesting how this varies between beers, even those with the same base malt. One odd thing about this beer is the clarity – I could swear that it was crystal clear at the start but now there is a slight haze.

Smell : Rich biscuit and nutty malt nose. Some orange marmalade notes from the hops (First Gold seems to be pretty similar to East Kent Goldings) and some light fruity ester character from the fermentation. Very nice.

Taste : The malt character from Maris Otter is very evident. Think cream crackers with a bit of nuts. A slight toffee taste lingers on the tongue for a while.This gives way to a nice bitter aftertaste. The finish is crisp and dry. A nicely balanced beer.

Mouthfeel : Surprisingly rich, it doesn’t feel thin or watery despite the low gravity and dry finish. Carbonation is medium level, as usual.

Notes/thoughts : I’d have to say this is my best version of the style thus far, this is an almost ideal session beer. It’s richer and fuller than my efforts at the style with Burton Union yeast from Mangrove Jack and somehow feels more substantial. It’s also quite well balanced between malt, hops and yeast character. The most interesting difference is the mouthfeel which gives the impression of a much bigger beer despite the nice dry finish. I’ll certainly use this yeast in the future based on this result, shame that it’s only available in the autumn.


From → Tastings

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