Often when I brew kits it is to leave my comfort zone. When I develop my own recipes I tend to drift back to the ingredients and recipes I know well and have used before. That can help master a particular beer or style, but it doesn't help a brewer grow. Developing new recipes for new styles or using a lot of ingredients for the first time is both daunting and risky. Knowing where to begin can be daunting, and the risk is your beer not coming out very good.
An ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter. It is the biggest and best pale ale that is typically offered by a particular brewery in England. Purchasing the kit gives me a chance to brew an entirely different interpretation of a style that I have brewed before and am familiar with. In my mind an English Pale Ale consists of British pale malt, Crystal malt, Fuggles and/or East Kent Goldings hops, and fruity or floral esters from English yeast. I actually have not had the original beer by Mystic, so I didn't know what to expect. Not knowing when I would brew the kit I chose the dry yeast option as opposed to the liquid yeast which loses viability more rapidly than dry yeast..
The dry yeast they gave me was S-33. I was not familiar with it at all; the employee at Beer & Wine Hobby said it was similar to Nottingham, a strain with a much cleaner flavor profile than I would have selected if I developed my own recipe. For over a month that was my only clue as to what the recipe was.
This past weekend a Christmas party I had been invited to was cancelled at the last minute. The dry yeast that came with the kit does not require a yeast starter like a liquid yeast making it perfect for a last-second brew day. I opened the box expecting a simple extract recipe with light malt extract and probably some specialty grains. When I opened the box there was Amber malt extract, English pale malt, Aromatic malt, and most surprisingly flaked maize.
|Corn is sometimes used in English beers. I wonder what it will do to the flavor of this beer.|
|The wort is a dark copper and didn't lighten after adding amber malt extract.|
|Nice cold break starting to form|
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