Bitter American Clone Review

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This bitter american clone is my first all grain batch, while I find it very had to be objective about my own beer, I’m happy with the results. Despite some of my brew day miscues. It’s not the recipe that it was designed to be due to those changes, but I don’t think it’s worse for it. While I have not tried the beer side by side with 21 A’s bitter american, it’s similar in spirit. Lowish ABV, light body, but not watery, and hoppy. I think my deviations from the recipe make it hard to tell if the recipe is an accurate clone. I’ve had bitter american a few times, and enjoyed it, but it’s more malty, and has a cherio like flavor that my example lacks. Those differences could be as simple as the grain bill. You’ll find that when trying to clone a recipe that it will often call for grains from specific maltsters that just aren’t available at your LHBS. When trying to clone a recipe, if you want it exact, you need to use what they are using. If you want it close, don’t fret, try to understand what the grain in the recipe brings to the table, and identify an appropriate substitute. A quality homebrew shop should be able to point you in the right direction. The differences could also be from the _long_ mash, or volume of run off. I don’t have temp control of my mash tun, and I don’t even have a well calibrated thermometer to take it’s temp, so knowing how off my mash temp was is a non starter. Another change from the recipe is the higher than recommended fermentation temps. I use a water bath with a fish tank heater, I have temp control from 68-and up. This beer called for 65* ferm temp, I pitched at 65, and let it rise, and prevented it from falling. It’s the best I can do. There are just too many deviations for me to worry about pin pointing one specific that caused the variation from the original. Not to mention I missed logging some key numbers that prevent real analysis.

The beer has decent head, which clings, and lasts. It has nice clarity, I’ve managed to avoid the dreaded hop floaties I had in the alpha king clone, despite the volume of dry hops. The aroma is nice and citrusy. I don’t get overly fruity esters from this, but I used 1056, which is clean fermenting, and 68-70 is w/in it’s range. The body is a bit thinner than expected. This could be caused by over attenuating the yeast. I have a hard time pointing at this being a fg issue. I’m unsure of abv, but it doesn’t seem too high abv. I get a bit of hop grassyness, maybe dry hop astringency.  The only bad thing I can think of about this batch is that it’s short, so I’ll run out sooner than expected.

Update: The keg kicked last night. This would be the fastest kick so far. Kegged on December 19th, kicked 2/21. Just under 2 months. This is more proof that I need to brew smaller batches. I’m a big fan of pales, I drink them primarily, and this one, a short batch yielding under 4 gallons, still took over two months to finish. Pales are best fresh. This was already past it’s peak. 

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About Aaron

Homebrewer, Cyclist, locavore, Craft Beer lover, husband, father, blogger, photographer, alpaca farmer, New England sports fan, all around Geek.

2 comments on “Bitter American Clone Review

  1. I wish I had a problem finishing 2 cases of homebrew before it’s past it’s prime. ;)

    I do share though. Bring a sixer to gatherings here and there. I’m going to have to take some time (when do I have that?) to read through your blog. I’m betting we run into many of the same issues. I use the Denny Conn batch sparge method, with one large rectangular cooler. Typically pretty accurate with hitting my numbers (about 70% mash efficiency), until the LHBS changes it’s mill. You tried no sparge with this brew? I’ve only batch sparged. Typically mashing with about 1.25-1.35 quarts per pound of grain.

    My I tend to have to leave too much wort behind due to the amount of junk left in the bottom of the kettle. My carboy inevitable ends up with a large trub pile too. Granted, many of my brews have lots of late hops, but I also notice I get a lot of solids. Perhaps time to replace the stainless steel hose braid (it’s about a year and a half old now). Would love a better kettle with a ball valve and false bottom, but don’t have the $$ at this point. So I chill with an immersion chiller, then rack to the carboy. A pain in the butt.

    Rambling here… but looking forward to reading your blog.
    Hihgland Homebrewer

  2. To be honest, I had initially planned on doing batch sparging, but I hadn’t worked out the logistics for sparge volume, I thought the 5 g kettle I had would have enough volume, but it was my first take on all grain, and I was a little over zelous.
    I’m now using a 7g pot for a HLT, and rice hulls, I haven’t had a run off issue yet, even with over 25% hull less rye and wheat, and what I think is a really fine crush.
    Right now my biggest concern is mash temp control, and measuring my conversion.
    I found my broken thermometer last brew day, and I haven’t been doing any conversion testing, both will be rectified before next brew day.
    Thanks for the feedback, I’ve also started following your blog. I think you are right we have a lot of similar brewing issues. :)

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