It’s Thanksgiving time and I’m so thankful for our new cans – Accomplice American IPA, Courthouse Cookie Ale and Barrister Bitter. That last one means a lot to me. Last Spring we had a trip to Britain and I was doing a lot of research on British beer. I have always enjoyed Fullers Pride and ESB so this was going to be fun. One thing we noticed when we were over the pond was the large amount of “session beers.” A session beer is a beer low in alcohol. This usually means beers in the range of 3-5% alcohol by volume.
The common beer in all British Pubs is a Bitter. They have been using the word Bitter to describe pale ales since the early 19th century. It began because the pubs did not have tap handles with labels so the customer would tell the bartender they wanted the beer that was not the sweeter, less hopped beer (like a porter), they would say “give me a bitter.”
A Bitter is traditionally a drinkable beer, and copper in color. The flavor has more malt profile compared to many American Pale Ales – light toasty, moderate caramel to toffee flavors. The hops give a delicate bitterness but does not overpower the malt flavors. Because it is an ale you get some moderately fruity esters and flavors.
British Brewers would produce at least two bitters – one at a lower strength and the other stronger. To distinguish the difference they use the common names:
Ordinary Bitter 3.2 to 3.8% ABV
Best Bitter – 3.8 to 4.6% ABV
Strong Bitter – 4.6 to 6.2% ABV
Back at LRB after our trip we were hanging out on a Friday afternoon (drinking a beer) with the Brew Crew. Dave and I started talking and I was telling him how much I enjoyed a Bitter. It turns out that Dave was having a similar conversation with the brewer from Green Man Brewery about the overlooked style of Bitters. This of course lead to us saying, “let’s brew one!”
LRB Barrister Bitter was created and we are so excited. It’s has 4.2% ABV, so it falls into the Best Bitter category – a great session beer. It has a caramel and toffee biscuit notes with a slightly bitter finish that goes great with many different dishes. So in your best Mary Poppin’s accent … “fancy a pint, eh gov’nor?”