“Bitter” is a classic English style that is bit of an enigma. Some would say that unless you have had a Bitter in a British pub that you have yet to have a Bitter. While I find that to be a bit of an exaggeration I must confess that the best Bitters that I have had have been in UK pubs, sold exclusively on draft. These pints were wonderfully fruity with a creamy head and mild carbonation.
A Bitter is typically medium-bodied, bronze to deep copper in color and accented by a generous dose of hops. Hops, and a generous hop bitterness, is the hallmark of the Bitter. Bitters are dry and not typically assertively bitter. In fact, the classic bitter is rather mild in hop influence when compared to the typical American craft brewed Pale Ale or IPA.
Classic Bitters are generally available in three strengths: standard, Special and Extra Special Bitter (or ESB). ESB is similar in strength and hop profile to the Pale Ale.