London Fog Vaguely Related to English Bitters and Summer Ales Recipe - Brain Sparging on Brewing


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December 2, 2018

London Fog Vaguely Related to English Bitters and Summer Ales Recipe

I don't feel any qualification to speak at length about English beer styles. I have comparably little experience drinking them and most of my experience comes from drinking questionable Fuller's bottles or American renditions which come heavy on the crystal malt. I never developed a passion for these styles which may be due to my lack of experience exploring them. Nevertheless, I have real admiration for English brewing ingredients. English malts tend to offer some of the deepest malt character that can swallow up unsuspecting hops. English hops, on the other hand, are subtle and light. London Ale III is one of my favorite yeast--for some inexplicable reason--which drives me to drink more Boddingtons than I can otherwise justify. While I don't feel driven to master English styles I do feel a growing desire to better understand brewing with their ingredients.

Within that paradigm I wanted to create a beer somewhere within the range of English bitters but without the darker malt or brewing syrup flavors--something closer to an English summer ale but not quite within that style either. I just want to strip down to a simple concept that lets the hops, malt and yeast each have their own room to breathe. I'm keeping this within the ABV and IBU range for an English bitter. I don't need to reinvent the wheel here.

As a result this beer is really simple. My new local homebrew shop carries the Warmister pale maris otter which is a nice floor malted base malt so I've selected that to carry the entire grain bill. For late hops I'm using First Gold pellets I picked up a while back. I can't recall having ever tasted them but the combination of citrus and floral descriptors seems like a good fit for an interesting but simple beer. London Ale III will ferment this beer out over a water profile slightly favoring a drier beer. It's maybe best described as a low ABV blonde ale with all English ingredients.

My goal for this beer is twofold. First, I want to create a pleasant beer to drink in its own right that may earn regular rotation on tap. Second, this beer is a good starting point to continue to explore English brewing ingredients and techniques. I plan on brewing some other English inspired beers like stout/porter and brown ales where I can continue working my way through English specialty malts. I want to get some English inspired beers in rotation on my taps but I also want to better understand these ingredients and techniques to see how they may improve other beers I brew. But for today let's just see how this beer goes.

London Fog Recipe

Batch Size: 3.1 gallons
Est. ABV: 3.6%
Est. IBU: 31.2
Est. OG: 1.035
Est. FG: 1.010
Est. SRM: 3.8
Expected Efficiency: 72%
Grain BillPoundsOuncesSRMPct. Grist
Warmister Pale Maris Otter403.5100.00%
Water Profileppm
Bru'n Water Yellow Balanced
PH: 5.47
Water AdditionsMashSparge
Epsom Salt0.3g00.7g
Canning Salt0.1g0.1g
Baking Soda
Calcium Chloride0.4g0.9g
Pickling Lime
Lactic Acid
Mash ScheduleStep Temp.Step Time
Single decoction mash
Mash volume: 5 qt
Sparge volume: 2.96 gal
Infuse 5 qt at 172F156F45
Sparge 2.96 gallons of 180F water170F
Boil ScheduleVolumeUnitTimeIBU
60 minute boil
Belma [12.10%]0.35oz6031.2
First Gold [7.5%]0.6ozFlameout0
Fermentation Schedule# DaysTemp.
Yeast: WY1318
Pitch 1l
Pitch at 64F1564

Fermentation and Brewday Notes

Brewed 10.30.17

Preboil volume: 4.1 gal
Preboil gravity: 1.027
Mash efficiency: 70%
Postboil volume: 3.4 gal
Postboil gravity: 1.032
Brewhouse efficiency: 72%

Tasting Notes

Reviewed on 12.1.18.

Appearance: Pours with a thick snow white head that leaves generous lacing as the head recedes with the beer. The beer is a straw yellow with slight haze. The head maintains a lasting rocky presence to the end of the beer, leaving lacing all the way down the glass.

Aroma: Country white bread leaps out of the glass followed by a gentle floralness and a husky graininess. Slight fruit notes as the beer warms with cantelope, tangerine, navel orange. The floral hops turn slightly grassy with warmth and a touch of black pepper appears.

Flavor: The bready yeast flavor hits first followed by a more welcoming country white bread flavor. The aftertaste keeps all the hops, first with floral flavors and a brief punch of bitterness but as the beer warms turns slightly grassy with soft melon and orange. There is a touch of sulfur in the aftertaste of the beer that goes away as it warms. Overall the flavor is well balanced between sweetness and bitterness without yielding in either direction.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with a prickly pop of bitterness with coolness. As it warms the bitterness mellows and the mouthfeel is a little smoother. 

Overall: Fairly happy with this beer. It's not a beer that wows but it has some good flavor that develops as the beer warms which is always pleasant. It hits all the marks for what it should be although I would like for it to have just a touch more hop character so maybe a dry hop addition would give this beer the slight pop to take from a really good beer to a great beer. 

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