From the HBD Archive
From: Conn Copas <>
Subject: English bitters
Date: 1992-06-23 12:15:23 GMT

I'm not sure that traditional definitions of bitters correspond with current
practice. As has already been observed, the term 'IPA' tends to be abused
frequently. On the other hand, session bitters are an important category which
don't seem to fit the definitions. They are more than a light ale; in fact,
skill is required in order to perform various conjuring tricks which make the
beer seem 'bigger' than it really is. The tricks include using darker malts for
flavour, increasing the proportion of unfermentables (so that, for example, a
SG 36 wort finishes fermenting around SG 12), and employing hop aroma and
esterification to advantage. On the lager front, Pilsener Urquell is a good
good example of some of these techniques. Obviously, the alcoholic
warmth/sweetness of high gravity brews will not be present, but that is
something that can be compensated to a certain extent. The upshot is that it is
possible to brew to less than 3% alcohol by volume without sacrificing too much
in the way of flavour. The brew may not win competitions, but is a good
alternative to soft drinks or low alcohol beers, IMHO.

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