Talk:Bitter (beer)

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Use of hops[edit]

"Historically, the difference between ale and beer is that beer has hops added for flavour and bitterness." - does anyone have a source for this? The words 'ale' and 'beer' were both used in Anglo-Saxon, which to my understanding is several centuries before British brewers started using hops. I had heard the difference was that 'ale' is top-fermented. Harry R

Ale is top-fermented as opposed to lager which is bottom-fermented; both are beer. The quoted statement, however, conflicts with the information presented on the beer page (that beer's historical usage was for cider, or perhaps any mildly-alcoholic fermented beverage), so I've removed it. VermillionBird 18:43, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

"Ale is top-fermented as opposed to lager which is bottom-fermented; both are beer." That's a modern definition. Don't confuse it with the many very different definitions of the past. At one point "ale" mean pale-coloured and lightly hopped, "beer" dark and highly hopped. 16:20, 30 April 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Zythophile (talkcontribs)

Session bitter[edit]

Where does the term "session bitter" come from? Is it because they were/are drunk at music "jam" sessions? Badagnani 20:22, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

No - it means you can have a drinking session on it and not fall over - the stronger beers are too much to drink all night - I can vouch for that! Brookie :) - a will o' the wisp ! (Whisper...) 15:01, 30 March 2007 (UTC)

Beer Advocate defines a session beer as follows "session beer n. Any beer that contains no higher than 5 percent ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters (ingredients) and, typically, a clean finish - a combination of which creates a beer with high drinkability. The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (Yes, you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk.)" —Preceding unsigned comment added by BeantownBrews (talkcontribs) 14:16, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Regional differences in taste[edit]

I think the statement that people in the North of England prefer sweeter, less well hopped, beers is too much of a generalisation. Holt's in Manchester is one of the most bitter beers in Britain, and Boddington's (when it was brewed there) was also very hoppy before Whitbread got hold of it. Last time I looked, Manchester was in the North. Rodparkes 09:18, 8 May 2007 (UTC)

You need to think about Scotland! A Scottish heavy is heavy with sweet sugar, not hops nor alcohol. OG=1060 and FG=1040 is not unusual. Pale beers, however, did originate in Yorkshite, and then spread southwards. (talk) 02:10, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Top or bottom fermented?[edit]

I suppose bottom-fermentation, but this information is really missing from the article. Maikel 23:30, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Ales are brewed with top fermenting yeast strains. BeantownBrews (talk) 14:20, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Lager and ale yeast strains differ in the volumes of metabolites, and temps and speed of attenuation. Lager attenuates a little better at lower temps, while ale leaves a bit more unreacted sugars. The difference between modern strains is less pronounced. Both strains fill the fluid column evenly, although ale does normally yield a larger head. Probably the source of the top-fermentation idea. Ale does initially produce a much stronger and sharper aroma while lager is more eggy. This due more to differing speeds of metabolism, rather than different metabolism products. The finished beers are not too different, unless special and usually propriety strains of ale are used. Wheat yeasts are a strain of ale. Malts from older times would have had a lot more residual protein, particularly with English methodology, giving rise to thicker and darker break foam. (talk) 02:01, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Notable Bitters[edit]

Is this section a joke? The 3 listed may be popular, but I don't believe they're notable! A bit like the "Restaurants" article listing McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King as the only 3 "Notable Restaurants"! (Boddies was notable, until its takeover and transformation.) This section would be better called "Popular Bitters".

i beleive this section should be removed entirely as some listed are neither notable nor popular, instead it seems to be a random list of beers the author has heard of! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

I think if they have their own Wikipedia argument they must, presumably, be notable, by definition. However I agree the list is incomplete and anyway the Category:Beer_and_breweries_in_England gives a pretty good list (for those that are there). The only reason I keep it would be worth keeping if is there was a one-line summary of why they are notable (e.g. Bass had the first trademark in the world, GK IPA is (i Ithink) the most popular UK bitter in terms of sales, etc). But then it becomes an ueditor's nightwhere when Trew's Old Strong and Tawny overtakes GK IPA. Agree, remove it. SimonTrew (talk) 17:33, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

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Without objections, I shall link this aticle to the BJCP. BJCP (talk) 22:40, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Not objecting, but what's the BJCP? SimonTrew (talk) 22:43, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Well I am objecting. Patto1ro (talk) 05:45, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

I was hoping for something more substantive, but if you want to take it to a vote we can go that route too. BJCP (talk) 06:44, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Editors, please give reasons, there is too much adding and reverting going on. 1Z (talk) 08:08, 15 July 2009 (UTC)


There are many myths spread by beer websites that do no research. Here is an article, including scholarly references, that disproves several IPA myths: Mikebe (talk) 12:47, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

This is getting silly now-- not by you Mike. It seems to me, if it's a myth (and I note the page there is mainly concerned with it being a myth that George Hodgson invented it, though it does say farther down more generally that other styles of beer were surviving the journey etc) it seems best to ADD THAT to the article, not simply to remove it. And since you have the information there, seems to be you're in a good position to add it. So why not do so, then?
Most of the information from the article above is already included in the IPA article, which is where it belongs. I don't really think it belongs here. Mikebe (talk) 05:33, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

VB is not a bitter[edit]

So what? It is called a bitter, and even to say it is "not a bitter" is more notable, especially if the origin of its name is known. I can't see anything in the main VB article for why it is/was called a bitter. In my mind, saying (as the main Victoria Bitter article does) that it's a lager is more useful than ignoring its existence by omission. SimonTrew (talk) 23:05, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

There are a considerable number of beers with names that do not match their content. Mostly, this is done for marketing reasons (quadrupel, for example), but sometimes for other reasons as well. Personally, I don't know anything about this particular beer, so I can't argue, however, in general, it seems rather pointless to me to list beers that are not' of the type in question. Mikebe (talk) 05:29, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
OK I must admit I'd not checked the IPA article. I agree with you in general (no point having "list of articles that are not green" etc) but when there are common misconceptions, or that kind of thing, I do think it reasonable. Almost everyone would think IPA a bitter beer-- if for no other reason than it is very bitter. Similarly, if Victoria Bitter is called that, people are gonna wonder why. That doesn't mean we have to enumerate every beer in the universe that is not a bitter beer, but to my mind part of the value of a linked encyclopaedia is if you can't quite find what you want, at least it might lead you there: hence "see also", "other uses", etc.
How about a simple sentence/para along the lines of, "Other beers and styles such as Victoria Bitter and IPA are actually not, strictly, bitter beers." I don't think we have to say why-- people can follow the links. How's that? SimonTrew (talk) 12:22, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
I'm fine with a 'other uses' para for VB as you suggest . Not sure why you say IPA isn't a bitter beer though when it clearly is: 'pale ale' and 'bitter beer' have been synonyms since the nineteenth century. Haldraper (talk) 14:53, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Simon, you seem to be confusing bitter and a Bitter. Because a beer tastes bitter, does not mean it is a Bitter. And as I have said, brewers too often name their beers something they think will sell better rather than as a description of the beer. I don't think WP should be a 'drinks guide' (like Ratebeer or Beeradvocate). If there is a relevant link, why not? However, linking to something because it is a popular myth or misconception just reinforces the misconception. Mikebe (talk) 15:23, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
No, I am not confusing them. The VB article says its a lager, the IPA article says it's an ale (as the name would imply). Sam Adam's Boston Lager I believe has similar trouble in that it's not truly a lager, but I can't remember the details (either it's the brewing time or that it contains things other than yeast/hops/barley/malt or it is the yeast variety or something). Regardless, although we don't want endless lists of trivia, and although we want to be encylopaedic, signposting popular myths or misconceptions is perfectly acceptable in my opinion. I am at the point of giving up arguing this. SimonTrew (talk) 18:11, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Simon, sorry, but what does 'signposting popular myths or misconceptions' mean? And yes, many of the beer articles (especially non-American) are filled with errors because the writers only used bad sources. Mikebe (talk) 09:21, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Hang on in there Simon :-) One of the confusing things is that IPA is not strictly speaking an ale at all, in that 'ale' was always unhopped or lightly hopped in contrast to heavily hopped beer (introduced to England by European brewers in the 15th century). 'Pale ale' is therefore a bitter beer. Why did 19th century brewers call it 'pale ale' rather than 'pale beer? I can only guess that they thought it sounded better as a rhyming phrase. Haldraper (talk) 19:50, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

(Lefting so we don't fall off the right of the page)

Right, so where are we? I thought that you were arguing FOR keeping IPA here (well not sure if it still is, but it was for a long time) and AGAINST keeping VB here. Personally I think a disambiguation section that says "things called bitter that are not Bitter" - I don't care what it's called - would be helpful. I know round here (Cambridgeshire) if you ask for a pint of bitter you can bet good money you will get Greene King IPA. It thus seems pointless to me, from an encyclopaedic point of view, to ignore that fact, especially when as you state it is very bitter. I'm not asking for an exhaustive list of everything in the universe that is not Bitter, or every beer that is not Bitter, but c'mon, you know if someone asks for "Ale" they are either underage or up their own backside (and that's no disrespect to CAMRA, I think originally they were gonna be the Campaign for Real Beer but changed because of the acronym). Since at the top of loads of pages there are disambiguations, indeed there is one at the top of the IPA page, I don't see the big deal here. SimonTrew (talk) 00:56, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Simon, to be clear: I do think IPA belongs on the bitter page because as I said in a previous post, 'pale ale' and 'bitter' have been synonyms for well over a century. If it's top fermented, pale and hoppy it's a pale ale/bitter whatever its called - IPA, Bitter, Pale Ale. The only distinction between 'pale ale' and 'bitter' is that the former is what it was called in the brewery and the latter by drinkers in the pub. I wasn't trying to be nerdish about 'ale', the ale/beer divide long ago become blurred, just trying to explain how the name came about. Haldraper (talk) 08:09, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Haldraper, to be clear: I did not mean to imply I thought you were "nerdish" about ale/bitter-- I am quite a word-fiend myself, beer or no beer!-- so if it seemed like an implied slight, I can only apologise for that and assure you it was not meant to be. Best wishes SimonTrew (talk) 22:39, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
No problem, Simon. Best wishes. Haldraper (talk) 20:43, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

AFAICR, VB has always been hop driven, and any malt flavours are largely hidden. That makes it a bitter. A lot of Aussie brews, in the last few years, have unfortunately been getting the modern malt tail, excluding Cooper's. A bit of sweet pilsner malt is added at pasteurization time giving a grainy/corny aftertaste. (talk) 02:17, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

'Brief history' totally wrong[edit]

The "brief history" section is wrong in almost every respect. "Pale ale" was a term used for beers brewed with pale malt, not just beers made from malt dried with coke: you can make dark coke-dried malt, and you can make pale malt without using coke. There is no evidence for 1642 being the first year coke was used for making malt: see here. The expression "pale ale" is at least 28 years older than 1703. The Calcutta Gazette reference is irrelevant: there are are newspaper mentions from the 1720s for pale ale - see here. The expression "bitter" was not in used in Britain in 1830: I wrote the source given for this claim, and I never said that. It dates from the 1840s. Porter and mild were not "less noticeably hopped" than pale bitter ale: Porter was well-hopped, and mild ale could also be well hopped. There is no evidence for the claim that brewers were identifying "cask beers" as bitter "by the mid too late 20th century" - "bitter ale" as an expression was in use much earlier, and "bitter" was also used on some bottled beers. Brewers outside Burton also identified their cask bitters as pale ale, eg Young's of Wandsworth. Zythophile (talk) 16:27, 30 April 2013 (UTC)