Munton’s Premium Best Bitter
Derived from Beginner instructions from “The Compete Joy of Home Brewing” – Charlie Papazain
But any bad advice is my own.
Years ago (15 to 25) I did some home brewing, but stopped about 15 years ago. The reason I brewed was not so much price. Home brew was, and still is, more expensive than cheep beer. The main reason I did it was that, on a trip to England I discovered English Bitter, but I couldn’t find it here in the US. I did find a local brewing supply store and they stocked malt extract kits for brewing Bitter. I continued to try styles of beer that were difficult to economically obtain at the time, heavier flavorful beers. I learned not to use corn sugar to increase the flavor and alcohol content of the beer, but to brew adding the extra sugar using malt extracts.
Today, there are many more choices of premium and crafted beers, available in many styles. There is less incentive to homebrew. But I think I can brew these for about ½ to 1/3 the price. I’d like to learn to tune the taste of about three styles of beer (a light [color] Ale, a Bitter, and a Porter/Stout) and tune the taste to something I like and can be proud of. This sense of accomplishment is still a good reason to homebrew beer.
This post probably has too much detail, but I’m trying to remember what I did.
About 4 gal – filtered water
1 – 1.5 kg kit (malt + yeast) Munton’s Best Bitter (hopped)
1 lb Spray Malt (about ½ & ½ Wheat/Barley) (note: next time I should use 2 lb)
I have a 5 gal covered bucket for initial fermentation. I measured 4 gal, + ½ gal, + ½ gal to mark a 4 gallon lever, 4½ gal level, 5 gal level. I plan to fill this to the 4½ gal level to leave some room for foam during fermentation. This corresponds to about two 12 oz cases of beer. I also have a glass carboy for a secondary fermentation.
2015/3/31 – Filled Fermentation bucket ½ full (2 ½ gal) of warm tap water. Added ½ tsp of Sodium MetaBisulfite. Stir. Added: floating thermometer, hygrometer, Spatula, long handled Stirring spoon, small ladle. I really did not need to sanitize the hydrometer or spatula.
Used paper towel soaked in solution to wipe inside of bucket and inside of top cover.
Put 3 gal pot in sink to hold sanitizing solution when I needed the fermentation bucket for mixing wart.
Using ½ gal pitcher, measure 1 ½ gal filtered water. I filled a hot water pot and put the rest in a 3 gal soup pot. Heat the hot water pot to boiling – to rinse out can of “Best Bitter” Malt syrup. Turn heat off once boiling.
Took the label off the can and put it in a 3 qt pot, mostly filling the pot with hot tap water to reduce thickness of syrup. Then began heating the cooking pot. Added 1 lb Spray Malt. Stir.
Dumped sanitizing solution into the pot in sink with sanitized equipment and put 1 ½ gal filtered water in fermentation bucket – then covered the fermentation bucket to reduce possibility of contamination.
When the wart, malt solution, is boiling, turn off heat, to keep things under control. Add “Bitter” Malt syrup. Use spatula to get as much out as possible. Rinse can with water from hot water pot, stirring. Add to boiling pot with any water left over from hot water pot. Turn on heat again, and bring to a boil. The turn down the heat some and boil for 15m.
Now add boiled mixture to fermentation bucket. Add water up to 4 ½ gal. I have a 5 gal bucket and want to leave some room for bubbles from vigorous fermentation. The temperature at this point is about 100º F. The specific gravity is about 1.034 – 3½% alcohol. I waited about an hour (with bucket covered) then remeasured the temperature, 90º F, and move it to the basement (covered). The Munton’s instructions say to add the yeast at 71º F, But I wanted to make sure the yeast was growing before the mixture got too cold. So after waiting another hour, I added the yeast with the temperature about 85º F. The bucket cover is on loosely, so air and CO2 can escape. (Presumable CO2 comes up from the solution, forcing air out first.)
2015/4/5 – Easter Sunday. I transferred, siphoned, the beer to a Carboy today. Readings about 1% – 1.015. I pulled a small glass out at the beginning of the siphon, used for specific gravity and taste test. It is quite cloudy as expected. It tastes less bitter than when cooked. Kind of light, like I remember from English Bitter. A little bitter taste to it. A slight hint of something, I’m sure not sure what. It has a slight sweet smell that I hope is hops. (My smeller don’t work so good.) Will wait 2 weeks to bottle it, if it clears. Otherwise, I will wait three.
I note that when looking for bottles in the basement, I came across a half case of very old home brew (bottled in1990?). It is lightly carbonated,with a poor head. But I really like the taste, something like a stout. I’m guessing it is from a kit of Bitter, supplemented with dark malt syrup. My homebrew has never had a healthy head. I like to think it is the way I carefully pour the beer. But it may also be that my procedures don’t produce a good head.
2015/4/16 – I only waited 11 days. Specific Gravity is 1.012, ½% . So I probably have something like 3.2 beer, a Bitter Light? I should drink it relatively quickly, in case it does not keep :). I purchased an inexpensive bottle washer (~$13) & used it to wash out the bottles with hot tap water. Then ran the bottles through the dish washer running as hot as possible in two lots. I think the dish washer does not clean the insides well. Its difficult for water to get in side the bottles, so the inside of the bottles must be cleaned first to avoid old crud getting baked on. I do not use soap, only a water wash. I don’t want soap to destroy the beer head. I have a difficult enough time with the head as it is. I think there are some suitable battle cleaning agents, but I’m not familiar with them. I have a bottle tree to hold bottles awaiting to be filled.
Following Papazian, I boiled a half cup of corn sugar in a pint of water for five minutes, as a priming solution, and dumped this into the cleaned, sanitized fermentation bucket. I then siphoned beer from the carboy into the bucket to mix with the sugar priming solution, leaving most of the yeast dregs in the bottom of the carboy. During this transfer, I took about a ½ cup for the hygrometer test, and taste test.
I then siphoned from the fermentation bucket into the bottles, folding the hose to stop flow between bottles. I spilled a bit of beer, but I’m not going to cry over it. As Papazain would say, “Have a home brew.” My goal was to leave about ½ inch air space in the bottle. Some bottles were more, some were less. For bottles that were too full, I poured some out, into a glass, just before capping. Bottle caps were boiled at least 5 minutes. Bottle caps were set on the bottles of the first case once they were filled, to reduce air contamination. Then the second case was filled. One case (24) of 12 oz bottles was filled, and 16 16 oz bottles.
The bottles were checked that they weren’t too full, and the caps mechanically pressed onto the bottles with a lever action press. The cases are stored in the basement (65F).
2015/4/22 – After six days, I opened a bottle. Its a dark brown color. Pretty clear, certainly clearer than I expected. It has a slightly bitter taste, with no sweetness. I’d like it to be a fuller taste. I’ll drink it happily, but it won’t be my first choice to share. Its aroma is slightly sweet. It’s lightly carbonated, but without much head. I should have used more spray malt.
2015/3/31 – The density is a little less than I’d like. I’d like about 1.040. Next time I’d add 1 ½ to 2 lb spray Malt. & next time I’d like to get Barley Malt instead of Barley/Wheat Malt.
2015/4/1 – took a quick peek today, and it appears fermentation is going well.
2015/4/1 – The Munton’s web site advises not boiling beer wart. It says flavors are lost. As I recall years ago some makers advised against it. An advantage of this is that less boiled water reduces the initial temperature so there is less time to wait before adding yeast. But I boiled because it sterilizes. Papazian (in 1984 – 30 years ago) says it mixes flavor better. Back when I used to brew beer more extensively, I had only one bottle explode, suggesting my sanitization was pretty good.
I suppose this calls for an experiment, once I get the extra sugar right. Two batches: 1) boiled 15m, and 2) not boiled. Then compare the taste and smell, err, aroma..
2015/4/4 – or I could add “finishing” hops in the boiled case, to add aroma.
Papazian, Charlie, The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, Avon Books,1984, ISBN 0-380-88369-4. note: I have the 1st Edition.
© David B. Snyder, 2015