Posts tagged ‘Special Bitter’

SB Squared – Batch 004

Here is my first batch in which I largely formulated my own recipe.

Brew Date: Dec. 30, 2007
Volume: 5 Gallons


3 lb. Light Clover Honey
3 lb. Extra Light DME
2 1/4 oz fresh ginger
less than 1/4 cup ginger powder (to make up for not having enough fresh ginger)
1/2 oz. dried sweet orange peel : 15 min
1 1/2 oz Cascade (bittering) : 60 min
1/2 oz Cascade (finishing) : 3 min
White Labs liquid German Ale / Kolsh yeast (created a 1 pint starter with DME)


  • Created yeast starter 24 hrs. in advance.
  • Boiled honey, DME and ginger (both) and bittering hops for 60 min. Added Orange at 15 min left in the boil. Added Finishing hops at 3 min left.
  • OG: 1.045


Racked to secondary to prevent yeast bite. Sampled it and found it to be sour/bitter. I think it was bitterness and hopefully not a flaw or infection. If it is bitter, it must be too many hops and I should add less or different varieties next time. The wort is so light that the 1 1/2 oz of hops is probably too much and is overpowering. With age it may be wonderful though.
SG: 1.011


I checked the SG and found it at 1.010. I decided to go ahead and bottle it because I am trying to get it ready to drink for when Ian and Stella get here next Saturday. It tasted decidedly better this time, but I was disappointed that I could not readily pick out the ginger or the orange peel. Maybe the carbonation will help.

I’m still trying to figure out what this brew is exactly. I’m tempted to call it a special bitter, but I’m not sure it’s quite bitter enough. Alternatively, it could just be labeled an American pale, but it lacks the crystal malt for that.

Ok, I’ve decided. It’s a Special Bitter. It’s name will be SB². Special Bitter* Shafer Braggot. Sweet.


So, I could wait no longer and so I broke out my first bottle of SB². The smell is a sweet aroma of honey and cascade floral notes. It is a pale orange color. There is zero head retention at this time, and carbonation is not yet adequate, both will hopefully improve with age. I can’t pick up any ginger and hardly any orange tastes or aromas. Perhaps it could have been aged in the secondary for longer, to remove more particles as there is quite the little clump on the bottom and throughout the beer. I’m not sure if it is chill haze or what. It is a very light beer, and very refreshing. The malt extract stays quietly in the background and allows the honey to come through nicely. Thought at this point: It is a very drinkable light beer with enough hops to make it interesting. It needs improvement, definitely in the head department. Hopefully more time in the bottle to condition will help.

For next time: definitely more ginger (4-6 oz) and more orange (or just omit the orange). Maybe even add enough ginger to make it a little spicy. Perhaps increase the malt and lower the honey a bit. Specialty grains? I’m not sure what I could use, but I will investigate. Hops – maybe a dry-hopping through a hop-back could add some character. Maybe 5% wheat to aid head retention.

IBU = (1.5oz*30%*6%*7489)/(5.0*[1+(1.084-1.050)/0.2)])
= 202.2/5.6
IBU = 36.1

ABV = 4.8%


So I took my light braggot/pale ale to the last Liquid Poets meeting, and was very surprised to taste the ginger was quite pronounced in it. I have only been drinking it in the Tap-A-Draft 6 liter bottles, and I am thinking that out of the bottle (normal beer bottles) it somehow picked up more of it. I’m not sure if that is really possible, maybe it just stuck out because I was trying to taste it critically and picked up on it…It’s amazing how different beer can taste in different circumstance. For example, I have been drinking just my SB² lately and then had some Buttface Amber at CB & Potts (The Ram for you Westerners) and it tasted very toasty, much more than I ever remember. I actually thought it was an odd batch until I thought about it for a second. It shed a new light on Ambers for me though.


January 7, 2008 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

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