Xtra Special Bitter ESB

Xtra Special Bitter ESB is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 15.
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This beer is a little bit special, maybe an xtra bit special. With the perfect balance between malt and hop bitterness, one sip of this bad boy and you will be feeling like your drinking a beer brewed for a king. This beer is an excellent all year round drinker and is perfect for any occasion. 

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Xtra Special Bitter ESB
Xtra Special Bitter ESB

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    What You Get

    1 Classic American Light Brewing Extract (HME)

    1 Packet of Smooth DME

    1 Packet of Booster

    1 Packet of Chocolate Malt

    1 Packet of Crystal 40

    1 Packet of Vienna Malt

    2 Packets of Goldings Hops

    3 Muslin Hop Sack

    1 Packet of Nottingham Yeast

    1 Packet of No-Rinse Cleanser

    For Fans Of

    Fullers ESB

    Brew Specs

    Flavor: Balanced

    Original Gravity: 1.053

    Final Gravity: 1.011

    ABV: 5.53%

    SRM: (Color): 16

    IBU: (Bitterness): 40


    Cleaning is one of the most important steps in brewing. It kills microscopic bacteria, wild yeast, and molds that may cause off-flavors in your beer. Make certain to clean all equipment that comes in contact with your beer by following the directions below:

    1. Fill clean keg with warm water to line mark 1 on the back, then add ½ pack (about 1 tablespoon) of No-Rinse Cleanser and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved, the solution is ready to use. Save the remaining ½ of No-Rinse Cleanser because you will need it for bottling.

    2. Screw on lid and swirl the keg so that the cleaning solution makes contact with the entire interior of the keg, including the underside of the lid. Note that the ventilation notches under the lid may leak solution. Allow to sit for at least 2 minutes and swirl again.

    3. To clean the spigot, open it fully and allow liquid to flow for 5 seconds and then close

    4. Pour the rest of the solution from the keg into a large bowl. Place your spoon/whisk, can opener and measuring cup into the bowl to keep them cleaned throughout the brewing process. Leave them immersed for at least 2 minutes in cleaning solution prior to using.

    5. After all surfaces have been thoroughly cleaned, do not rinse or dry the keg or utensils. Return lid to top of keg, proceed immediately to brewing.


    Brewing beer is the process of combining a starch source (in this case, a malt brewing extract) with yeast. Once combined, the yeast eats the sugars in the malt, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). This process is called fermentation.

    1. Remove the yeast packet from under the lid of the can of Brewing Extract, then place the unopened can in hot tap water.

    2. Add the Entire packets of the Crystal 40 and the Vienna malt and half the packet of chocolate malt to one of the hop sacks and tie closed so that the grain can flow freely within the sack.

    3. Add 8 cups of water to the pot. Next, add in your packet of Booster to the cool water and stir until dissolved.  Bring the water to a temperature of 155-165 and hold the water at that temperature.

    4. One the temperature range is achieved, add in the grain sack and allow it to steep holding the temperature range for 30 minutes.

    5. While your grain is steeping, add one packet of Goldings hops to each hopsack and tie closed so that the hops have room to expand within the sacks.

    6. After the 30-minute grain steep has passed remove from heat, rinse the hop sack in a colander with 1-2 cups of hot water, allowing the run-off to flow back into the pot. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE GRAIN SACK. Discard grain sack.

    7. Next, open the packet of DME Slowly sprinkle in the DME into the pot of water and stir to dissolve. Increase your heat to medium-high. Continue stirring constantly to keep the rising foam in check. If it begins to rise, pull the pan off the heat and lower the temperature slightly, continuing to stir (about 5 to 10 minutes depending on your particular conditions), until you hit the hot break which is where the foam has subsided and the solution is now boiling.  Stir until incorporated. (DO NOT WORRY IF YOU STILL HAVE CLUMPS FROM THE DME. THEY WILL BE BROKEN DOWN IN FERMENTATION)

    8.  Maintain this mixture at a low rolling boil. Once the mixture is boiling, Add in one of the hop sacks (this sack with boil for a total of 30 minutes)

    9. After 20 minutes has passed. Add in the second hopsack and allow everything to boil for 10 more minutes. (30 minutes total)

    10. Once a total of 30 minutes has passed, remove the mixture from the heat. 

    11. Open the can of Brewing Extract and pour the contents into the hot mixture in your pot. Stir until thoroughly mixed. This mixture of unfermented beer is called wort.

    12. Fill your fermenter with cold tap water to the mark 1 on the back. If using any other fermenter this would be approximately 1 gallon of water.

    13. Pour the wort into your fermenter, and then bring the volume of the fermenter to mark 2 by adding more cold water. 

    14. Stir your wort mixture vigorously with your sanitized spoon or whisk.

    15. Sprinkle the Nottingham Dry Ale yeast packet into the keg, and screw on the lid. Do not stir.

    Put your fermenter in a location with a consistent temperature between 68° and 78° F (20°-25° C), and out of direct sunlight. Ferment for 14 days.


    After 14 days, taste a small sample to determine if the beer is fully fermented and ready to bottle. If it tastes like flat beer, it is ready. If it’s sweet, then it’s not ready. Let it ferment for 3 more days (17 total). At this point, it is time to bottle. Do not let it sit in the fermenter for longer than 24 days total.

    1. When your beer is ready to bottle, fill a 1-gallon container with warm water, then add the remaining ½ pack of the No-Rinse Cleanser and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved, it is ready to use

    2. Distribute the cleaning solution equally among the bottles. Screw-on caps (or cover with a metal cap if using glass bottles) and shake bottles vigorously. Allow to sit 10 minutes, then shake the bottles again. Remove caps and empty all cleaning solutions into a large bowl. Use this solution to clean any other equipment you may be using for bottling. Do not rinse.

    3. Add 2 Carbonation Drops to each 740-mL bottle. For 1-liter bottles, add 2 ½ drops; for ½-liter bottles add 1 drop. Alternatively, you can add table sugar using this table as a guide. 

    4. Holding the bottle at an angle, fill each bottle to about 2 inches from the bottle’s top.

    5. Place caps on bottles, hand tighten, and gently turn the bottle over to check the bottle’s seal. It is not necessary to shake them.

    6. Store the bottles upright and out of direct sunlight in a location with a consistent temperature between 70°-76°F or 21°-24°C. Allow sitting for a minimum of 14 days. If the temperature is cooler than suggested it may take an additional week to reach full carbonation. 


    After the primary carbonation has taken place your beer is ready to drink. We recommend putting 1 bottle in the refrigerator at first for 48 hrs. After 48hrs. give it a try and if it is up to your liking put the rest of your beer in the fridge. If it does not taste quite right, leave the bottles out at room temp for another week or so. Keep following this method until your brew tastes just how you like it. 

    This process is called conditioning and during this time the yeast left in your beer can help clean up any off-flavors. Almost everything gets a little better with time and so will your beer

    Rated 5 out of 5 by rap82 from Memories of England What I got, was what I was hoping for. Opened my first bottle 3 weeks after bottling. Drinking this reminded me of my favorite beers when I spent time in England. Nothing like a pulled draft from a classic pub in England. Ashley told me to use half of the priming sugar, and it made a perfect lower carbonated beer. I am sure it would be just as good if you like standard carbonation. I haven’t had a good traditional English Bitter since I was in England. I will keep making this. Brings back great memories and very enjoyable beer.
    Date published: 2020-12-14
    Rated 5 out of 5 by Kegger from Believe the Rave Reviews!!! One of the first Microbreweries in this area is well known for their ESB, so I had to try this one! It was the most complex recipe I've attempted, but also quite possibly the best beer I've ever made. It has a beautiful color and great head retention while the flavor is very balanced and smooth. Great taste and everyone who tried it was impressed. I mentioned it was a little complex (my first time with a DME), but if you follow the directions closely and set aside at least two hours to make this champ, you won't be sorry!
    Date published: 2021-03-21
    Rated 5 out of 5 by Anonymous from Best beer I've made This a GREAT beer ! One of the best I've done using the Mr Beer recipes. Very good head retention , the taste up front just a bit on the hoppy side in a nice smooth mouth feel.then on the back side you get the malty taste of the chocolate malt. I will be doing this again very soon !!!
    Date published: 2020-11-15
    Rated 5 out of 5 by FredAFT from Excellent tasting beer I brewed this not knowing what to expect. I hadn't had an ESB for a long time. Just before drinking it, I had an ESB as a taphouse so I could make a comparison. When I opened this one, it tasted every bit as good as the one I had at the taphouse. I will put this on my repeat list. But it will take a while since I have a lot of beers to try for the first time before I start repeating.
    Date published: 2021-08-26
    Rated 5 out of 5 by Standfast from Mr Beer is helping me grow as a home brewer. This recipe kit was my first real introduction to a partial mash beer. I recently bottled it and can't wait to try it. Great ingredients and great instructions. ...and yesterday I did my first all grain brew day using the biab system so we'll demonstrated on your site. I will do more all grain brewing but I'm sticking with the Mr Beer fermenter as I love the 2 gallon batch size.
    Date published: 2024-05-12
    Rated 5 out of 5 by TSOTG from Solid English ale My first review after ten brews. I had to finally leave one for this. This is a great recipe. It's incredibly smooth and it is the only beer I've made that was fantastic after just carbonation. No conditioning needed. I can't wait to see what it will taste like after a few weeks of conditioning. I will definitely purchase again
    Date published: 2021-02-01
    Rated 5 out of 5 by BlueZebra from Probably my best beer, yet! What a great beer! Lightly bready on the nose but very balanced on the palate. I primed with half the sugar (as I do most of the time) and let the bottles sit for 6 weeks. Perfect! Slight chocolate and, dare I say, walnut notes. Finishes slightly sweet with zero aftertaste or off-notes. Believe the reviews!
    Date published: 2022-03-30
    Rated 5 out of 5 by Shrike from A Very Good Recipe There's not much I can add that hasn't been said in these other reviews. This recipe makes a great tasting and very well balanced Bitter. I will definitely brew this one again.
    Date published: 2022-01-22
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    The detail specifics say OG 1.053. I did everything exactly by instructions and my OG is only 1.04. Any idea why the difference? Would boiling times influence one way or the other?

    Asked by: Woodman
    Here are some reasons why your OG might be off: 1) All the extract may not have been removed from the Can/Booster. 2) The extract may not have been fully dissolved and mixed into the wort when the sample was taken. 3) There may have been some extra water added. Boiling time will influence OG, but it will usually increase OG as water is evaporated.
    Answered by: Mr Beer
    Date published: 2023-07-03

    The instructions for XTRA special bitter ESB states in line 2 of brewing "HLF of chocolate malt". Does HLF mean half of the chocolate malt?

    Asked by: sjh1512
    Hello, yes, that indeed indicates "half" the packet will be used. Cheers!
    Answered by: MRBEER
    Date published: 2024-05-28

    The recipe doesn't say to keep the hops in the fermenter with the wort or remove the hops prior to adding the wort.

    Asked by: 18436
    The hops will go into the fermenter with your wort. Taking them out will not cause a problem though, either. Cheers!
    Answered by: MRBEER
    Date published: 2021-11-29
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