The Bitter Earl English Pale Ale Recipe

Brewed with Earl Grey Creme tea, The Bitter Earl is malty and complex with a pronounced Earl Grey flavor and earthy hops presence.

John McHenry Feb 27, 2016 - 4 min read

The Bitter Earl English Pale Ale Recipe Primary Image

The recipe overshoots the IBU range for the style by a few points to balance the Earl Grey flavor. The color is also dark for the style because of the infusion of the black tea.


OG: 1.054
FG: 1.014
IBUs: 56
ABV: 5.23%


10 lb (4.5 kg) floor-malted Maris Otter
1 lb (454 g) UK medium crystal malt (50-60)
1 lb (454 g) UK Cara malt



2 oz (57 g) East Kent Goldings at 60 minutes
0.5 oz (14 g) Fuggles at 30 minutes

0.5 oz (14 g) Fuggles at 15 minutes
0.5 oz (14 g) East Kent Goldings at 15 minutes
1 oz (28 g) Fuggles at 5 minutes
0.5 oz (14 g) East Kent Goldings at 5 minutes


Make a yeast starter the day before brew day.

Mash at 154°F (68°C) for 75 minutes. Mash out at 170°F (77°C) for 10 minutes.
Sparge with 170°F (77°C) water to collect 7–7 ½ gallons (26.5–28.4 liters) of wort.

Boil for 60 minutes.


Transfer to the fermentor and pitch yeast starter at 64°F (18°C). Allow the temperature to free rise to 66–68°F (19–20°C) over the next few days. Primary fermentation should complete in just a few days. When complete, raise the temperature to 70°F (21°C) and let sit for a 2–3 day diacetyl rest. Transfer to secondary fermentor for 1 week to allow the beer to clear, then package.


Wyeast 1968 London ESB


Add 1 Whirlfloc tablet to the boil at 15 minutes. Add
 1.5 oz Earl Grey Creme tea
 (I recommend Adagio Teas’s Earl Grey Moonlight in a fine mesh bag) at flameout and steep for 8 minutes while cooling the wort. My efficiency is generally on the low side. This brew usually comes in about 66%.

This ale tends to end up very bright and clear because the yeast is highly flocculent; however, chill haze can be an issue because of the makeup of the grist as well as tannins in the black tea. You can do a protein rest or cold condition for a few weeks after packaging to combat this. I highly recommend serving at cellar temperature (although it’s good cold, the malt tends to sing at a higher temperature). This beer does exceptionally well in a cask, but bottles nicely as well.

John McHenry lives in Lindenwold, New Jersey, and is the full-time dad of two little girls. Recipe is built to yield a batch size of 5 gallons (19 liters) and assumes 72 percent brewhouse efficiency.

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