Brew & Review: Steam Freak Full Steam Special Bitter – Pt. 1

Special Bitter Beer Recipe Ingredient KItA special bitter is a style of English pale ale and a great beer for enjoying year round. Over the next few weeks I will “brew and review” one of the Steam Freak beer recipe ingredient kits from the E. C. Kraus web store: the Full Steam Special Bitter.

I’m excited to brew this kit for a number of reasons:
1) At about 5% ABV, it’s a nice, easy-going beer for the summer.
2) It will be a good opportunity for me to practice and share extract brewing procedures.
3) Extract brewing is generally quicker than all-grain, so I’m really looking forward to making excellent beer with a shorter time commitment.

What’s in the Box

Grain BagBottle CapsThis Special Bitter recipe ingredient kit comes with all you will need to brew a five-gallon batch: malt extract, hops, yeast, and priming sugar. The kit also includes a grain steeping bag, caps, and step-by-step instructions for brewing the recipe.

Since I won’t be brewing right away, the first thing I’m going to do is put the hops in the freezer and the yeast in the refrigerator. This will ensure that they will stay in peak condition until I’m ready to brew. The malt extract will be fine staying indoors in its box.

Let’s break down the individual ingredients that make up the Full Steam Special Bitter kit:

  • Steam Freak Malt In HandMalt Extracts  Steam Freak Light Liquid Malt Extract – Liquid malt extract (LME) provides most of the flavor, body, and fermentable sugars in this beer. Used by itself, a light LME would make a pale, golden colored ale.Steam Freak Amber Liquid Malt Extract – Paired with the light LME, the Amber LME will increase the color of the beer to a nice shade of light copper, contribute additional fermentable sugar, and add a rich caramel flavor to the beer.
  • Beer Ingredient Kit GrainsSteeping Grains Briess Caramel 80L malt– This caramel malt will contribute additional color, body, and flavor to the special bitter.Briess Carapils malt – Carapils is a type of malted barley used to increase body and head formation without affecting color or flavor. This malt has a high proportion of unfermentable sugars called dextrins, which remain in the beer after fermentation.
  • Beer Ingredient HopsHops Willamette– The bittering hops in this beer ingredient kit are Willamette, and are boiled for 60 minutes.Fuggles – Fuggles hops are the flavoring hop addition, added to the boil at the 30-minute mark. Fuggles is a classic English-derived strain of hops, noted for its woody, earthy, and gentle spicy characteristics.
  • Beer Ingredient Kit YeastYeastSafale S-04 – This is actually my “house” yeast strain. I use it in most of my English and American ales. As a dry yeast, Safale S-04 is easy to use. It ferments cleanly and quickly, and it’s affordable. One pack is all you need to ferment an average five-gallon batch of homebrew.
  • Priming SugarBeer Ingredient Kit Priming SugarCorn sugar(aka dextrose) is the priming sugar of choice for many homebrewers. Priming sugar is adding to the beer right before bottling, and give the yeast a little extra food to produce the CO2 bubble that carbonate your brew. Corn sugar is essentially 100% fermentable, so it won’t leave any residual flavor in your homebrew when used for bottling. The Full Steam Special Bitter recipe ingredient kit includes five ounces of corn sugar for priming, though I will likely measure out a specific amount when it’s time to bottle my batch.

Quality ingredients are the first step towards quality beer! The next step is quality technique. Stay tuned for a report from brew day!

Read the other posts of this review! Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 |

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David Ackley is a beer writer, brewer, and self-described “craft beer crusader.” He holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and is founder and editor of the Local Beer Blog.

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