October 8, 2013

STD ESB Tasting

I realized a week or so ago that when I first designed this ESB recipe back in 2011 I had modeled it off a recipe from Jamil, which is often mentioned as being a non-traditional recipe. I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of this beer although it doesn't help that I used three year old grains and hops. There's definitely an old hop flavor that I don't love. At least this recipe can be a jumping off point for working (but not twerking) on a better ESB recipe.

Appearance: Light in color, a little too light for an ESB. It is more of a golden color than the usual copper color of an ESB. Maintains a frothy white head from the cask pour. Beer is clear with very slight haze. Actually very clear for a cask beer. A layer of bubbles forms along the bottom of the glass.
Aroma: The aroma is a mix of English yeast character, hop and some malt aroma. The dominate aroma is the grassy, slightly fruity aroma of EKG hops. Some yeast esters come out in the aroma with just a hint of bready malt. The hops are not as pronounced as I would have liked but it smells fresh and inviting.

Flavor: Not at all like the aroma. The yeast character is prominent with a mix of fruit and what people describe as the "twang" with S-04. It's not unpleasant but it overwhelms the taste. It has mellowed after a few days of oxygen exposure. The hop flavor has a hint of what was in the aroma but the primary hop flavor profile is one of faded, stale hops. Not undrinkable but not the fresh hop flavor you expect in an ESB. Malt character is very mild and the specialty malts are subdued, if present at all.

Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel is a little thin for cask beer. It's more carbonated and spritzy than I expected. It's not necessarily a bad thing and it's not as carbonated as bottle conditioned or draft beer but just not what I expected. It's very easy to drink.

Overall: I consider this a miss for several reasons. I let the fermentation get warm a little too quickly, which gave the beer more yeast character than I wanted. The use of old ingredients definitely played against the quality of the beer although that has nothing to do with the recipe itself. I was also looking for more of the bread and caramel flavors from the malt that this recipe lacks. I'd certainly change the recipe to focus on more crystal malts and maybe use some munich to drive some of the color and flavor without making the beer cloying. I'd also contemplate the use of candy syrups to help drive flavor, which is a common English practice.

1 comment:

  1. As far as ESB recipes go, you can't go wrong with the standard Fuller's recipe - 93% Pale Ale malt (I use MO) and 7% English Dark Crystal. You have to use English Crystal Malt, that is the key with the flavor. The original recipe calls for ~80L crystal, but I like the darker stuff in the 120-150L range. Going to give Special B a try sometime soon as well.

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