Ordinary Bitter

Ordinary Bitter Beer Style: Nothing Bitter About This Classic Ale!

Reading Time: around 9 min

If you’re craving a beer that won’t knock you flat after a couple of pints, let me introduce you to the humble hero of British pubs: the Ordinary Bitter. This classic ale style has been quenching thirsts since before your grandad’s time.

And it’s still going strong!

Thanks to its understated charm and supreme drinkability. Something we would call today a sessionability. Think of it as the friend who’s always up for a casual hangout. Reliable, easygoing, and never a drama queen.

Now, don’t let the name fool you. 

An Ordinary Bitter isn’t a sullen brew stewing in a glass. It’s a session beer, which means it’s the Usain Bolt of the beer world. Quick on the sip but slow to tire you out. Crafted with a delicate balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness.

This beer whispers flavor rather than shouts it, coaxing your taste buds with subtle hints of caramel, biscuit, and a touch of fruitiness from those cheeky yeast characters.

Key Takeaways

  • Ordinary Bitter is a British pub staple known for its easygoing nature and sessionable qualities.
  • Flavor profile balances malt sweetness with a light hop bitterness, perfect for extended sipping.
  • Despite its name, the beer offers a nuanced and approachable taste, making it great for any casual gathering.


Taste Temptations

When venturing into the world of Ordinary Bitter, you’re embracing a British classic that’s more sociable than a pub quiz master.

Flavor Fiesta

Get your taste buds ready for a jolly jaunt. Ordinary Bitter is essentially your friendly neighborhood pint, packed with malt flavor that hints at biscuit and toast. Think of that golden-brown crust on your morning toastie, only better! 

With a sip, you’ll be greeted by a wave of flavors rolling over your tongue.

Ordinary Bitter Hops

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Malt Backbone: Often characterized by pale ale malts, expect a comfortable biscuity undertone.
  • Bitterness: A cheeky bitter finish courtesy of classic English hops. It’s not a smack, but more of a friendly nudge.
  • Caramel and Toast: Partners in crime adding sweet and roasty notes, but don’t expect a sugar rush, it’s just a whisper of sweetness.


You’ll want to dive into the flavor like it’s the last piece of cake at a party. Savor that balance between fruity esters and caramel sweetness. With bitterness that’s more of a firm handshake than an overpowering slap.

Aroma Adventures

Brace your nostrils for the old-world charm with a sniff of an Ordinary Bitter. 

It’s like a mini-holiday for your senses. Here’s what’s in store:

  • Floral Hops: Lean in and you’ll find a garden of floral notes. It’s like stumbling upon a hidden flower bed. Not overpowering but pleasantly surprising.
  • Fruitiness: Undertones of fruitiness dare you to pinpoint the specific fruits. Is it a snippet of apple or a slice of pear? Maybe a fig masquerading as a berry?
  • Malt Whispers: Don’t miss the malt joining in like a subtle bassline in your favorite tune.


Imagine a perfume that’s not too fancy yet undeniably charming. 

This ale throws you into a pit of fragrance without overwhelming your sniffer. Grab an Ordinary Bitter, take a whiff, and teleport to an English garden. Cheers to aromas that could pep up even the dullest chit-chat!

Crafting Ordinary Bitter

Get ready to dive into the world of Ordinary Bitter, the laid-back cousin in the British beer family that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You’re about to become a backstage VIP on the grand tour of good ol’ Bitter-making magic!

Ingredients Investigation

First up, the grains. Maris Otter is your best mate here. Think of it as the bread and butter of your Ordinary Bitter. It brings a rich, biscuity flavor to the party. But every rockstar needs a band, right? 

Throw in some Special Roast and Victory malt for those caramel and nutty undertones that’ll make your taste buds sing. As for the sugar producers – Crystal Malt, keep it light! A pinch will do, just to add that subtle sweetness without stealing the show.


Role in the Band

Maris Otter

Lead vocal with rich, malty tones

Special Roast

Backup vocals with a hint of caramel


Rhythm guitar with a nutty crunch

Crystal Malt

Light tambourine shakes of sweetness


Now, the hops. In the world of Bitters, we’re not looking for a hop head’s wet dream. 

East Kent Goldings and Fuggle are the old-school rockstars you need. They’ll gently serenade your beer with earthy and floral notes. It’s a duet of bitterness and aroma that’s as classic as leather jackets and beat-up vans.



East Kent Goldings

Lead guitar with floral solos


Drums with an earthy beat


And the conductor of this brewery orchestra? 

Yeast. A traditional British strain will ferment your tunes into that crisp, dry finish. No fuss, no theatrics, it’s like the reliable bassist that never misses a beat.

Hopping Recommendations

Alright, ready to brew an Ordinary Bitter that’s anything but ordinary? 

Let’s get you sorted with some hop choices that’ll make your brew the talk of the tavern!

First things first, you’ll want to grab some classic British hops. Think of them as the Beatles of the brewing world. You can’t go wrong with East Kent Goldings, the Paul McCartney of hops. 

Smooth, with a bit of spicy and herbal flair. 

For a 5-gallon batch, let’s start with a solid 1 ounce of these lovelies at the 60-minute mark of your boil. This is your bitter backbone, the foundation of your pint-sized masterpiece.

But wait, let’s not forget about Fuggle, the George Harrison of the group.

Earthy, with a gentle bitterness that sings. When your boil’s got about 15 minutes left on the clock, toss in another half-ounce. This is where you layer those flavors, adding depth like a secret ingredient in a family recipe.

Now, for the grand finale, with just 5 minutes left, serenade your brew with a final half-ounce of East Kent Goldings. It’s like the last chord of “A Day in the Life” – it leaves you wanting more.

With those honey notes.

Brewing Ballet

The mash is your dance floor. Like any good boogie, you start slow. Keep your water temps around 152°F (67°C) to let the enzymes do their two-step and convert those starches into fermentable sugars. 

Then, the interlude.

A boil.

Not too rowdy, just enough to let the hops do a little stage dive into the pot.


Dance Move

Mash Temperature

Slow groove at 152°F (67°C)


Moderate jive with hop stage dives


Once the show’s over and the crowds have gone home, cool that wort down and let the yeast turn it into a headlining act. Ordinary Bitter doesn’t demand an encore; a quick fermentation period is all it needs before it’s ready to meet your glass.

The Art of Cask Conditioning

First things first, let’s talk about cask conditioning. 

This is what gives Ordinary Bitter its unique character and flavor. Cask conditioning is a process where the beer is naturally carbonated in the cask, without the use of CO2. This means that the beer is alive and constantly changing, so it’s important to handle it with care.

When you’re ready to serve your pint, make sure you let the beer settle for a few minutes before pouring. This will allow any sediment to settle to the bottom of the cask. Then, use a gentle hand to pour the beer into the glass, making sure to leave any sediment behind.

So, my friend, that’s the guts and glory of crafting an Ordinary Bitter.

It’s a session beer with character, less ABV to knock you over, and more personality than a stand-up comic. Give it a go, and let’s raise a pint to the simplest pleasures in the brewing world!

Liquid Lore

Now, let’s crack the cap on Ordinary Bitter, the beer with a name that does it a pint-sized disservice. You might think “Bitter” means face-puckering, but this English gem is more about balance than biting your taste buds off.

History Check:
Way back in time, before you could ‘swipe right’ on your pint glass, there was 1318. Now, that’s not the number of beers you tried last month. It’s the year when “Ale” was king in England and hops were just the new hops on the block.

Real Ale, Unearthed:
Fast-forward a few centuries, and you’ve got yourself a Real Ale revolution. Ordinary Bitter, a proud member, is where you get tradition served with a sparkle. Sans the drama of modern gizmos.

Crafting Your Own Legend:

  • Malt Must-Haves: Pale ale malt as your foundation.
  • Hop High-Fives: Bestow a gracious bow to classic English hops like East Kent Goldings or Fuggles (names so English, they’d queue for a bus).


So next time you’re at the pub, grab an Ordinary Bitter. It’s the beer equivalent to a British sitcom. Quirky, dry, and a classic in its own right. Cheers to the ale that laughs in the face of its own name!

Geeky Beer Specs

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of Ordinary Bitter beer, shall we?

This is where you’ll find the juicy specs that make beer geeks like us salivate.

By the Numbers

Your Ordinary Bitter is the epitome of a session beer. Now, this isn’t going to be one of those heavy, knock-you-on-your-butt type of brews. It’s light, manageable, and you can enjoy several without feeling like you’ve wrestled in a sumo competition.

Color: You’re looking at a palette that’s akin to autumn leaves. That’s right, imagine an October sunset in a pint glass – we’re talking hues that dance around a gold to copper spectrum.

In technical terms, this means an SRM generally between 4-14.

Alcohol: Low alcohol is the name of the game here. We keep things civilized, usually around 3.2-3.8% ABV. Yep, you heard that right. You can have a few and still win at trivia night.

IBU: Bitterness units are your friend, but they won’t slap you silly. You’re in for a smooth 20-35 IBU ride. Enough for a tingle, but no hop face contortion necessary.

Table of Characteristics:




1.030 – 1.039


1.006 – 1.012


Low (Go all night!)


Like a circus act, malty yet hoppy – but mostly malty.


Remember, carbonation is like that friend who’s always bubbly but never too in-your-face. It’s moderate in Ordinary Bitter. It’s the guy that everyone likes at the party.

Present but not taking over the dance floor.

While we’re dissecting this beauty, let’s chat about what’s inside. 

Your malt should whisper sweet, biscuity, and slightly nutty nothings to your taste buds. Classic British hops such as “East Kent Goldings” or “Fuggle” are your go-tos for that quintessential hop character. Think a woody, earthy and floral handshake with a spicy wink.

English noble classic hops.

You’re now armed with the details to impress your mates at the next beer tasting. Cheers to you and your newfound Ordinary Bitter expertise – let the good times roll!

Picture of Damian


A lifelong learner, hop enthusiast and a lover of the state of extreme exhaustion.

Finance Analyst in the Investment Bank and co-founder of hopsmatcher.com