Best Bitter

BRITISH BITTER

# OG, P OG, sg FG, P FG, sg ABV, % IBU SRM

min

10.0 1.040 2.0 1.008 3.8 25 Amber (6-9)

min

11.9 1.048 3.1 1.012 4.6 40 Copper (14-17)

Overall Impression: A flavorful, yet refreshing, session beer. Some examples can be more malt balanced, but this should not override the overall bitter impression. Drinkability is a critical component of the style.

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma, often (but not always) with a low to medium-low caramel quality. Bready, biscuit, or lightly toasty malt complexity is common. Mild to moderate fruitiness. Hop aroma can range from moderate to none, typically with a floral, earthy, resiny, or fruity character. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Appearance: Pale amber to medium copper color. Good to brilliant clarity. Low to moderate white to off-white head. May have very little head due to low carbonation.

Flavor: Medium to moderately high bitterness. Moderately low to moderately high fruity esters. Moderate to low hop flavor, typically with an earthy, resiny, fruity, or floral character. Low to medium maltiness with a dry finish. The malt profile is typically bready, biscuity, or lightly toasty. Low to moderate caramel or toffee flavors are optional. Balance is often decidedly bitter, although the bitterness should not completely overpower the malt flavor, esters and hop flavor. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Low carbonation, although bottled examples can have moderate carbonation.

Comments: More evident malt flavor than in an ordinary bitter; this is a stronger, session-strength ale.

History: The family of British bitters grew out of English pale ales as a draught product after the late 1800s. The use of crystal malts in bitters became more widespread after WWI. Traditionally served very fresh under no pressure (gravity or hand pump only) at cellar temperatures (i.e., “real ale”). Most bottled or kegged versions of UK-produced bitters are often higher-alcohol and more highly carbonated versions of cask products produced for export, and have a different character and balance than their draught counterparts in Britain (often being sweeter and less hoppy than the cask versions).

Style Comparison: More alcohol than an ordinary bitter, and often using higher-quality ingredients. Less alcohol than a strong bitter. More caramel or base malt character and color than a British Golden Ale. Emphasis is on the bittering hop addition as opposed to the aggressive middle and late hopping seen in American ales.

Commercial Examples: Adnams Southwold Bitter, Fuller's London Pride, Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter, Salopian Darwin’s Origin, Surrey Hills Shere Drop, Timothy Taylor Landlord


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