(Not so...) Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

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(Not so...) Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:57 pm

You can probably guess from the subject, I'm not a huge fan of bitter. Or, more accurately, any commercial bitter I have tasted, ever... :lol: So, why would I have a go at brewing one? Well, a few reasons really:-

1) My wife likes bitter.
2) My father-in-law likes bitter, especially Banks's...
3) I'm using it to try a few things out, but if it goes wrong meh, it's just a bitter.... :lol: :twisted:

Trying out: Clarity Ferm - F-I-L gets bloated when drinking beer, we want to see if reducing the gluten helps. Also, I want to see what effect, if any, it has on clarity. Re-using yeast cake - I wanted to get this brewed, but didn't want to use any of the CML Reale Ale yeast I have in stock, as it just isn't that nice, where the MJ's Liberty Bell yeast seems to produce really good results, and I racked AG #6 yesterday, leaving behind a nice yeast cake with a bit of green beer over it. Last but not least, trying to add another style to my portfolio, so to speak. At the risk of sounding big headed, my Saisons have been rather good, my witbier was ok, the 2 goldens show a lot of promise, so I wanted to give a bitter a try.

Recipe

Taken from Graham Wheeler's BYOBRA book (RIP). Adjusted using BIABacus.

Targets: 21 litres into FV, OG: 1.038, Colour 23 EBC.

25 litres (21 litres reverse osmosis filtered water, 4 litres treated tap water) for the mash. 5 litres (4 litres RO, 1 litre tap) for the sparge.

90 minute mash @ 66 degrees C, 7 minutes rise, 75.6 degrees C for 10 minutes mash out (the mash out isn't from the book). Sparged with 5 litres at 72 degrees C.

3330g pale malt (mostly Crisp Maris Otter, a small quantity of IREKS Pale Ale malt to save me opening a fresh bag of MO...)
34g (scary) Crisp black malt. I was really really worried mashing this I'll be honest..

Mash SG: 1.035
Sparge SG: 1.018
Pre-Boil SG: 1.032
Taken with my less than wonderful refractometer.... So take them with a pinch of salt for sure.

90 minute boil

36.2g Fuggles (whole hops) @90 minutes.
12.3g EKG (whole hops) @10 minutes.
1/2 Protafloc @10 minutes.

So, yeah, apparently I got decent efficiency... Given as I came away with 23 litres of wort into FV, at an OG of 1.040... Yeah, overshot a tiny bit. I got a LOT of break material, hot and cold, but I find this happens when I use the IREKS Pal Ale malt. Where the Crisp Maris Otter I've been getting very little break material. So glad I used whole hops again, as tons of sticky trub left behind in the boiler when I transferred.

I reckon I got the colour about right, a nice mid-amber colour. Tried to get a photo of the wort to show this:-
BankssBitterWort.jpg
The wort tasted like, well, wort... No roasty/burned flavours from the black malt. Just the usual malt/saccharine/hops flavour I get and don't like. Yeah, I really don't like testing the wort, but did this time around to make sure nothing nasty came from that black malt...

Pitched the yeast cake at 20 degrees C, plus 1 vial (10mls) of Whitelabs Clarity Ferm.

Now to wait, before we find out if:-

1) I get 23 litres of foul, infected, drain cleaner.
2) I get 23 litres of lovely looking beer, that tastes exactly like actual Banks's Bitter that I'll not overly want to drink.
or...
3) I get 23 litres of beer that's actually much nicer than the commercial bitters I've tried.

Kinda hoping for 3 really... lol
Last edited by wolfenrook on Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by TheSumOfAllBeers » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:12 pm

I think black malt is a much maligned ingredient. There's a kilo of it in an 18kg 1.067og export Porter I got on, and I would highly rate the malt character I got. Hop character OTOH is a work in progresd

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:26 pm

Yeah, I did some reading around after buying it. Quite a few sources saying it's not as bad as folks think it is, others decrying it as the worst thing to ever happen to beer. I've found that with a lot of opinions in brewing though so far, a lot of them are totally contradictory...

Planning to brew a mild next, that contains more black malt than this recipe (same author, Banks's Mild... lol).

I love porter by the way, but do get a bit bored with the ones that overdo the malt bitterness. Had a delicious coffee one recently though that they'd used actual ground coffee in, so it had coffee flavour but less astringency. My fave porter though is Titanic Plum Porter without a doubt.

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by Mashman » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:15 pm

I will grant you that Banks's is at best mediocre. But not keen on any bitter? Fullers, Adnams, Timothy Taylor, Harveys, Hook Norton ?
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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:24 am

Mashman wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:15 pm
I will grant you that Banks's is at best mediocre. But not keen on any bitter? Fullers, Adnams, Timothy Taylor, Harveys, Hook Norton ?
Pretty much yup, it's just not a style I enjoy overly. A decent pub I usually go for a porter or a "ruby", most pubs though I have either a diet cola, Guinness or Strongbow Dark Fruits. Or, every now and then, I find a pub with a nice, citrussy, golden (eg. Wainrights, Hobgoblin Gold or the like). Most of the time though it's diet cola... :lol:

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by Mashman » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:55 pm

Fair enough, each to their own. I think a good Bitter is the pinnacle of British brewing. I am with you on the Plum Porter though, and I do like a good stout. BTW are you from oop North, just wondered.....
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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by Fastline » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:14 pm

I never liked bitter, however since frequenting a local micro pub that has a good turnover of beers and sampling a varity of supermarket bottled beers, I have got right into bitter and mild, don't think the majority of brewery tied pubs that I drank in did a very good job with these beers, most tasted like flat cold tea. Maybe tastes have changed a little but I think the quality standard of the beer has got much better by getting it from the right places.

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:21 am

Mashman wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:55 pm
Fair enough, each to their own. I think a good Bitter is the pinnacle of British brewing. I am with you on the Plum Porter though, and I do like a good stout. BTW are you from oop North, just wondered.....
Almost, I'm from the Midlands, currently residing in Wolverhampton, but raised in mid Staffordshire (born in North Staffordshire).
Fastline wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:14 pm
I never liked bitter, however since frequenting a local micro pub that has a good turnover of beers and sampling a varity of supermarket bottled beers, I have got right into bitter and mild, don't think the majority of brewery tied pubs that I drank in did a very good job with these beers, most tasted like flat cold tea. Maybe tastes have changed a little but I think the quality standard of the beer has got much better by getting it from the right places.
I have actually been known to enjoy a mild, just not bitters. I've tried all kinds, I was even a member of CAMRA for a while and attended beer festivals in both Stafford and Wolverhampton, and not once tasted a bitter I liked. Heck, I even tasted keg Worthingtons and Draught Bass back in the days when Bass Brewery was still a thing (I worked as a barman in a Bass pub in my younger days... lol), I didn't like them either. :lol: I went to uni in Eltham by the way (University of Greenwich has a split campus there, half on each side of the park) for about 18 months (whilst living in Greenwich), did my midwifery placement and health visitor placement in that area too (I was a student nurse).

Who knows? This might prove to be the first bitter I try and actually like....

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:54 pm

Bottling day for this brew. So, what can I say?

Well, nice colour but a tiny bit of haze (possibly left over from me using a syringe to try to make it look good):-
NannyOggsBottlingSample.jpg
Flavour, well at the moment it's a tad ordinary, nothing special at all, kinda weak tasting in fact. Time in the bottle will hopefully fix both the flavour and the slight haze (if that isn't left over from me trying to make it look good... lol). Mouth feel is a bit on the thin side to be honest.

OG, bang on 1.008, giving 4.2% ABV, 79.4% apparent attenuation.

So yeah, I can drink it (which is more than I could say for the commercial product), but I've brewed better.

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by orlando » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:13 pm

wolfenrook wrote:
Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:54 pm
So yeah, I can drink it (which is more than I could say for the commercial product), but I've brewed better.
You need to give it a couple of weeks at the very least before you pass judgement. Apart from the haze, you used clarity ferm didn't you, it looks pretty good? Have you used any other finings product?
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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:07 pm

Yeah, I used Clarity Ferm as an experiment. Other than that, just half a protofloc tablet in the boil at 10 minutes before the end. I'm not even sure the haze is real to be honest, there's a bit left over in the bottling bucket, I'll have a look at it (I did, but was too late, the yeast had started nomming the priming sugar, making it even hazier... lol). Most beers clear in the bottle anyway I know. Haze doesn't bother me or my wife to be honest, but as I brewed this partly for my F-I-L (Father In Law) I'm kinda trying to impress with it. :lol: If I can teach him to actually pour his beer into a glass it'll help! He tried to drink one of my Saisons straight from the bottle once, and ended up with a load of the (French Saison...) yeast roused back into the beer. His face was a picture.... :lol:

I'm not really passing final judgement, just commenting on things so far. Most of my beers have tasted weak and watery, with a thin mouth feel, on bottling day. They change loads after they've been carbonated and conditioned. :wink: There is a small chance though that the Clarity Ferm may have thinned the body a little, some folks reckon it does, others reckon it has no negative effects at all. Only time will tell. It bodes well though that I wasn't utterly revolted by the taste I had... :lol:

When the time comes I'll need to bite the bullet, buy a bottle of Banks's Bitter (they've renamed it to Banks's Amber Bitter now it seems, so colour would seem about right. lol) and do a side by side test with my wife. I'll certainly be doing this before I let my F-I-L try it. :shock:

Oh, and had an unusual problem this time around, I had to sanitise 3 more bottles! I usually get 40 bottles packaged, but this time around I got a full 43 bottles out of it.

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by Fastline » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:01 pm

I think this will be a difficult one for you to judge, F.I.L will be pleased with all of that to drink. I'm looking at brewing a best bitter next, this looks very amber, not sure if there's a direct connection with colour and flavour but think I like my bitter more red/brown

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:14 pm

He won't be getting it all, my wife likes bitter too. lol

Banks's bitter itself is quite amber in colour, they even changed the name recently to indicate this. Darker colours usually mean more malts that add colour, such as crystal, chocolate, black etc, which do indeed effect the flavour. This recipe just uses a small amount of black malt. I have a recipe for Banks's Mild too, which is almost identical, but reduces the hops whilst increasing the quantity of black malt. Lazy breweries eh? lol

Borrowing some pics off the internet:-

Image

Image

So colour looks about right (mine looks more like the draught pint I reckon). Marstons filter Banks's bitter though, so I'd struggle to get that kind of clarity. lol The pint from the bottle looks terrible though, no head and seriously fizzy, looks like cheap orangeade..... :lol:

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Re: Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Wed Feb 14, 2018 3:53 pm

Just had a sneaky bottle of this with my wife.

Seems I need to eat my words, it's delicious. lol

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Re: (Not so...) Boring Banks's Bitter (AG #7)

Post by wolfenrook » Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:06 pm

Now sat suppin' my 2nd bottle of Nanny Ogg's NSOB (my Banks's bitter-alike) today. It tastes so gooood! Tiny bit roasty (probably the black malt), biscuity with lovely citrus hints and bitterness. To think I thought I didn't like bitter... Turns out I've just never been served a decent pint of it...

Oh and I can't say I have seen ANY reduction in chill haze from using the Clarity Ferm.... Unless F-I-L notices less bloat when he drinks it, I won't be bothering again.

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