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ESB – Extra Special Blog

April 8, 2010

Sat down last week and chatted with Charlie Cummings, Harpoon brewer. Charlie’s latest creation is for the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, a Single Hop ESB. Charlie is a wealth of knowledge about brewing. I asked him if he could write a blog entry about this beer. Charlie said “sure”!

Here is what Charlie had to say about this beer and the brewing it.

Harpoon Brewer Charlie Cummings

Extra Special Bitter – to me that’s a style that brings out all kinds of great British beer flavors but with a slightly heavier hand than a typical pub bitter from the UK. I like the idea of a full biscuity malt nose with some caramel and even a touch of roast in the background complimenting a juicy fresh hop presence – all brought together with a complex, bready British yeast strain. It’s the type of style that I will order first at a brewpub I’ve never been to before, to see what they can do.

In 2008, I was in the planning stages – actually had brewed 2 pilot batches of an ESB 100 Barrel Series when we decided to go in a different direction which turned into the Rauchfetzen, a smoked ale – 100 Bbl #25. But we kept the ESB idea on the back burner and when Hopsteiner sent us a sample of some new, experimental hops and asked if we were interested in buying some, we smelled them and decided they would work well in a Single Hop ESB.

The hop that had been called “Exp 40188” – what it says on the boxes we received – was officially named Delta in February 2010 not a day too soon for us to send out the artwork for our bottle labels. The brand new variety was bred from Cascade and Fuggle hops. It has all the smooth earthiness of the classic British Fuggles but a lot more of an assertive American punch to it. It’s fruity but not in a super-citrusy way.

I made the malt bill very similar to the well-loved Harpoon ESB which was brewed in the early 2000’s, only substituting British malts for American malts. Munton’s Maris Otter and Crystal; and Crisp Pale Chocolate balance the hops well and make for an interesting and appetizing array of flavors. I’m hoping this is a beer that makes you want another sip – a true session ale and maybe an invitation for others to try their hand at using Delta hops.



To learn more about this beer, click here

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tola permalink
    May 2, 2010 6:10 AM

    Hey, no doubt you are a gifted brewer but please make a beer without hops being the main point of the beer. I live very close to harpoon windsor and over the past year I ‘ve noticed all harpoon beers have a similar taste to them, hops, which is not true to style aka- Belgium ipa ( you would never know it was a Belgium yeast if not told). Hops ar emade to balance malt not erase the flavor. Get back to the roots of beer as we know it, pick up some good german beer and see what I mean

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