Aroma: Hop aroma moderately-high to moderately-low, typically with a floral, earthy, resiny, and/or fruity character. Medium to medium-high malt aroma, often with a low to moderate caramel component. Medium-low to medium-high fruity esters. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Appearance: Light amber to deep copper color. Good to brilliant clarity. Low to moderate white to off-white head. A low head is acceptable when carbonation is also low.

Flavor: Medium to medium-high bitterness with supporting malt flavors evident. The malt profile is typically bready, biscuity, nutty, or lightly toasty, and normally has a moderately low to moderate caramel or toffee flavor. Hop flavor moderate to moderately high, typically with a floral, earthy, resiny, and/or fruity character. Hop bitterness and flavor should be noticeable, but should not totally dominate malt flavors. Moderately-low to high fruity esters. Optionally may have low amounts of alcohol. Medium-dry to dry finish. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium-full body. Low to moderate carbonation, although bottled versions will be higher. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth but this character should not be too high. Overall Impression: An average-strength to moderately-strong English bitter ale. The balance may be fairly even between malt and hops to somewhat bitter. Drinkability is a critical component of the style. A rather broad style that allows for considerable interpretation by the brewer.

Comments: Fuller’s ESB has been moved to the English Strong Ale category since it has a very large, complex malt profile not found in other examples, and often causes judges to incorrectly evaluate beers of this style. In England today, “ESB” is a Fullers trademark, and no one thinks of it as a generic class of beer; in America, the name has been co-opted to describe a malty, bitter, reddish, standard-strength (for the US) English-type ale, and is a popular craft beer style. This may cause some judges to think of US brewpub ESBs as representative of this style. Judges should take note of this move, and understand that the malt character of that specific beer is not typical for this style.

History: The family of English bitters grew out of English pale ales as a draught product in 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). These guidelines reflect the “real ale” version of the style, not the export formulations of commercial products.

Several regional variations of bitter exist, ranging from darker, sweeter versions served with nearly no head to brighter, hoppier, paler versions with large foam stands, and everything in between. 

Strong bitters can be seen as a higher-gravity version of best bitters (although not necessarily “more premium” since best bitters are traditionally the brewer’s finest product). English pale ales are generally considered a premium, export-strength pale, bitter beer that roughly approximates a strong bitter, although reformulated for bottling (including increasing carbonation levels). While modern English pale ale is considered a bottled bitter, historically the styles were different.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pale ale, amber, and/or crystal malts, may use a touch of black malt for color adjustment. May use sugar adjuncts, corn or wheat. English finishing hops are most traditional, but any hops are fair game; if American hops are used, a light touch is required. Characterful English yeast. Burton versions use medium to high sulfate water, which can increase the perception of dryness and add a minerally or sulfury aroma and flavor.

Style Comparison: More evident malt and hop flavors than in a special or best bitter, as well as more alcohol. Stronger versions may overlap somewhat with English strong ales, although strong bitters will tend to be paler and more bitter. More malt flavor (particularly caramel) and esters than an American Pale Ale, with different finishing hop character.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.048 – 1.060

IBUs: 30 – 50

FG: 1.010 – 1.016

SRM: 8 – 18

ABV: 4.6 – 6.2%

Commercial Examples: Shepherd Neame Bishop's Finger, Young’s Ram Rod, Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale, Bass Ale, Whitbread Pale Ale, Shepherd Neame Spitfire

Aroma: Moderate malty sweetness (often with light notes of honey and/or vanilla) with light, grainy, spicy wheat aromatics, often with a bit of tartness. Moderate perfumy coriander, often with a complex herbal, spicy, or peppery note in the background. Moderate zesty, citrusy-orangey fruitiness. A low spicy-herbal hop aroma is optional, but should never overpower the other characteristics. Vegetal, celery-like, or ham-like aromas are inappropriate. Spices should blend in with fruity, floral and sweet aromas and should not be overly strong.

Appearance: Very pale straw to very light gold in color. The beer will be very cloudy from starch haze and/or yeast, which gives it a milky, whitish-yellow appearance. Dense, white, moussy head. Head retention should be quite good.

Flavor: Pleasant malty-sweet grain flavor (often with a honey and/or vanilla character) and a zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Refreshingly crisp with a dry, often tart, finish. Can have a low bready wheat flavor. Optionally has a very light lactic-tasting sourness. Herbal-spicy flavors, which may include coriander and other spices, are common should be subtle and balanced, not overpowering. A spicy-earthy hop flavor is low to none, and if noticeable, never gets in the way of the spices. Hop bitterness is low to medium-low, and doesn’t interfere with refreshing flavors of fruit and spice, nor does it persist into the finish. Bitterness from orange pith should not be present. Vegetal, celery-like, ham-like, or soapy flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, often having a smoothness and light creaminess from unmalted wheat and the occasional oats. Despite body and creaminess, finishes dry and often a bit tart. Effervescent character from high carbonation. Refreshing, from carbonation, light acidity, and lack of bitterness in finish. No harshness or astringency from orange pith. Should not be overly dry and thin, nor should it be thick and heavy. Overall Impression: A refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate-strength wheat-based ale.

Comments: The presence, character and degree of spicing and lactic sourness varies. Overly spiced and/or sour beers are not good examples of the style. Coriander of certain origins might give an inappropriate ham or celery character. The beer tends to be fragile and does not age well, so younger, fresher, properly handled examples are most desirable. Most examples seem to be approximately 5% ABV.

History: A 400-year-old Belgian beer style that died out in the 1950s; it was later revived by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden, and has grown steadily in popularity over time, both with modern craft brewers and mass-market producers who see it as a somewhat fruity summer seasonal beer.

Characteristic Ingredients: About 50% unmalted wheat and 50% pale barley malt (usually Pils malt) constitute the grist. In some versions, up to 5-10% raw oats may be used. Spices of freshly-ground coriander and Curaçao or sometimes sweet orange peel complement the sweet aroma and are quite characteristic. Other spices (e.g., chamomile, cumin, cinnamon, Grains of Paradise) may be used for complexity but are much less prominent. Ale yeast prone to the production of mild, spicy flavors is very characteristic. In some instances a very limited lactic fermentation, or the actual addition of lactic acid, is done.

Style Comparison: Low bitterness level with a balance similar to a weissbier.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.044 – 1.052

IBUs: 8 – 20

FG: 1.008 – 1.012

SRM: 2 – 4

ABV: 4.5 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples: Hoegaarden Wit, St. Bernardus Blanche, Celis White, Vuuve 5, Brugs Tarwebier (Blanche de Bruges), Wittekerke, Allagash White, Blanche de Bruxelles, Ommegang Witte, Avery White Rascal, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Sterkens White Ale, Bell’s Winter White Ale, Victory Whirlwind Witbier, Hitachino Nest White Ale

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma, often (but not always) with a caramel quality. Bready, biscuity, 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, and/or fruity character. Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Appearance: Pale amber to light 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 high bitterness. Moderately low to moderately high fruity esters. Moderate to low hop flavor, typically with an earthy, resiny, fruity, and/or floral character. Low to medium maltiness with a dry finish. The malt profile is typically bready, biscuity, or lightly toasty. Caramel or toffee flavors are common but not required. 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: Light to medium-light body. Low carbonation, although bottled examples can have moderate carbonation.

Overall Impression: Low gravity, low alcohol levels, and low carbonation make this an easy-drinking session beer. The malt profile can vary in flavor and intensity, but should never override the overall bitter impression. Drinkability is a critical component of the style.

Comments: The lowest gravity member of the English Bitter family, typically known to consumers simply as “bitter” (although brewers tend to refer to it as Ordinary Bitter to distinguish it from other members of the family).

History: The family of English bitters grew out of English pale ales as a draught product in 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). These guidelines reflect the “real ale” version of the style, not the export formulations of commercial products.

Several regional variations of bitter exist, ranging from darker, sweeter versions served with nearly no head to brighter, hoppier, paler versions with large foam stands, and everything in between.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pale ale, amber, and/or crystal malts. May use a touch of dark malt for color adjustment. May use sugar adjuncts, corn, or wheat. English finishing hops are most traditional, but any hops are fair game; if American hops are used, a light touch is required. Characterful English yeast.

Style Comparison: Some modern variants are brewed exclusively with pale malt and are known as golden ales, summer ales, or golden bitters. Emphasis is on the bittering hop addition as opposed to the aggressive middle and late hopping seen in American ales.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.030 – 1.038

IBUs: 25 – 35

FG: 1.007 – 1.011

SRM: 8 – 14

ABV: 3.2 – 3.8%

Commercial Examples: Fuller's Chiswick Bitter, Adnams Bitter, Young's Bitter, Greene King IPA, Brains Bitter, Tetley’s Original Bitter

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Monty Brewing Co. - Range View Hotel Opening Winter 2020
10481 New England Highway Highfields,Queensland 4352 Australia
 
montybrewingco.com.au