Public House Brew

Magnolia Brewery brews exclusively, a cask ale for Public House – Billy Sunday Bitter!

Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery on Billy Sunday Bitter

Magnolia's Dave McLean

Dave McLean, Magnolia Brewery
(Photo by Jennifer Yin)

It's a pale copper-colored, English-style bitter (a style which, actually, isn't very bitter) built around the heirloom malt variety, Maris Otter. It's moderately hopped (24 "bitterness units", in a bit of a nod to a number that's meaningful to the ballpark and Giants fans), with two English-originated varieties: Goldings and Challenger.  The beer comes in around 4.9% alcohol by volume and was fermented with our house strain of English ale yeast.  The marriage of all of those ingredients gives the beer a really evocative English feel, enhanced by the fact that it is served cask conditioned at cellar temperature.  It's really a proper bitter, like one might find at any good pub in the UK, though a British drinker may find it half a percent or so too high in alcohol to truly be called a "session beer".  Still, I think it's highly drinkable, being pretty crisp and refreshing, while still showcasing the ingredient-driven nuance that I love about the English brewing aesthetic.   

Magnolia Brewery Logo

Magnolia Brewery

This is the first time we've brewed a special beer for someone else and the first time we've done a beer that is only being served cask conditioned, though we do regularly brew English-style bitters and often feature several of them at once, all served cask conditioned at Magnolia.  Cask beer is fragile and I've been really thrilled with how committed the Public House team is to doing it right and taking the necessary steps to care for this kind of beer.  I'm a huge proponent of cask conditioned beer when produced, handled, and served correctly: it can be one of the most sublime beer drinking experiences out there, even if it often gets overlooked these days in the sea of big and assertive beers.  A balanced, flavorful, but subtle session beer will always have a place, however crazy we (collectively, as craft brewers and drinkers) get with massive, imperial everything.

It's a treat to brew and drink beers like this and I'm honored to be working with such clearly passionate people as the folks at Public House!

Billy Sunday Bitter Tasting Notes

StyleEnglish Best/Special Bitter
YeastHouse English Ale
Key IngredientsMaris Otter, crystal malts, challenger and goldings hops
Visualpale copper
Aromaflowery, fruity
Tastefresh bread, fruit, marmalade, hint of caramel
Finishquick snap of hops, ripe barely
Pairingshellfish, salmon, fish & chips, sausages, roasted meats
NotesThis is another classic interpretation of an English bitter - malt sweetness offset by earthy hops; very drinkable. A best bitter sits just above an ordinary in the bitter family. It's sometime synonymous with special bitter though the word special is also sometimes reserved for the next level up, just shy of an ESB (extra special bitter).
Name InfoBilly Sunday was a 19th Century outfielder (played for the Chicago White Stockings, Pittsburgh Alleghenys, and Philadelphia Phillies, before giving up his baseball career to become an evangelist.