Robust Porter

On Wednesday, with the company of my buddy josh I brewed a Robust Porter. This completed the last of 3 english style ales I’ve brewed since thanksgiving. English style ales are something I’ve become quite fond of lately, their low (in comparison) alcohol content, generally malty profile and unique yeast characteristic make them something I find quite enjoyable. Also, in a hop-centric american brewing community they present a unique challenge in capturing the palette of others. This is a rant I shall avoid for now.

This particular brew was fairly uneventful. My recirc setup worked beautifully, mash temps were maintained without fail and I feel the recipe shows great promise. Further, I got to use one of my favorite yeast strains, and the starter took off like a rocket, leading to a fermentation which shows signs of greatness, though I worry now, sitting an hour and a half away with family, that I may blow the airlock if things get heady.

Enough counting of chickens before they’ve hatched and onto the meat.

Prepared a 2.5 cup starter of wyeast neobritannia at ~noon. This showed signs of vigorous fermentation by 2 and ultimately was pitched at approximately midnight.

Mashed @ 1.25qt/lb and 153*F for 1 hour to (hopefully) leave the finishing gravity a bit higher than usual for a somewhat robust mouthfeel. Sparged to collect 6 gallons of preboil wort.

Boiled 60 minutes, no notable conditions, besides my poor math and a post boil gravity of 4.5 gallons, rather than the usual targeted 4 gallons. NOTE TO SELF: either, a) plan for 4.5 gallon batches, or b) collect ONLY 5.5 gallons preboil, regardless of what you think is right.

This volume overshoot led to a OG of 1.046, which is a touch low for a robust porter (I would have prefered 8 to 10 gravity points higher) however I think it should be close. and hey, this way I get to rebrew it.

 

Recipe:

Estimated O.G. 1.052

Estimated F.G. 1.013

Estimated ABV: 5.2%

SRM 33*

IBU’s 28.4

Grist

6lb Maris Otter 66%

1lb8oz Flaked Barley 17%

12oz Crystal 60l 8%

9oz Chocolate malt 6%

4oz Belges Kiln Coffee Malt 3%

Additions

1oz East Kent Goldings (6.7AA) @60 min, Irish moss & yeast nutrient @ 15min (I think I forgot these)

 

Fermented w/ Wyeast NB Neobritannia

Chilled to 72 post boil, allowed to reach 60*F before pitching, showed signs of fermentation within 8 hours of pitching.

 

I had initially intended for a much less complex grist, however the Northern English Brown I recently brewed had such a positive roast profile, I modified on brew day to add the kiln coffee malt.

Tastings!

A friend Josh came into town the other day, as he needed a ride coincidently to the same place where I live, and as I began brewing up a robust porter (more on that in another post) we engaged in a tasting of several beverages.

First: A (intended) Belgian Strong Dark ale.

Josh and I brewed this up in the last year (maybe february or march) from a mostly Vienna and Munich grain bill with some homemade candi syrup for color and Wyeast’s belgian strong ale yeast. It was brewed as an 8 gallon batch and split to two 5 gallon carboys (one each). It’s now been bottle conditioning for perhaps 5 months, and sadly most of my bottles are gone.

It’s an interesting batch, it didnt adopt the desired darkness from the candi syrup, however overall it’s a quite good beer. It has a dramatic amber color which is simply brilliant, a distinctly belgian yeast presence, a bit of tartness in the finish, beautiful head retention and aromatics and a very nice malt note on the finish. Overall I’m quite satisfied, however thing if we were to rebrew it with a bit more dark malts I would like the dark fruit i detect faintly to come forward a bit more (for a strong dark ale). However, as is it is a delicious belgian style ale which I would peg at maybe golden strong ale. The bottles that remain I intend to save, opening a 12oz bottle every christmas with josh for the next 6-8 years (I dont remember the exact count) and there is at least one bomber, maybe for when one of us gets married or something silly.

NEXT!

We also opened a bottle of a dark rye saison I brewed, it turned out nicely, however upon a first tasting perhaps a month ago both Josh and I (without conversing on the subject) detected a bit of tang to the beer. It appears that somewhere it picked up a bit of a lacto infection, which has become somewhat tasty. It happens to fit well with the base beer (unlike the mild I brewed that caught a bug). I’m interested to see how much further the sourness will develop however as of now it’s quite nice.

It displays a beautiful dark color, showing red when held to light. Pours with a moderate tan head which remained through the better portion of the glass. The aroma is quite complex, notes of roasty malts, lactic acid and a faint floral dry hop aroma. The sourness is quite present but not overpowering, lending itself to a complex flavor profile. Initial flavors are yeasty, with a nice roast balance, followed by the tug of sourness and finishing with a faint and fading floral element due to the Saaz dry hop treatment. Overall, not my favorite beer, but a pleasant surprise. I would certainly rebrew, possibly with a full sour culture in secondary.

FINALLY!

We tasted three one gallon portions of a brown ale I brewed last january, fermented too hot and subsequently decided to try and sour. They are progressing better than expected, and are already leaps ahead of the base beer. I think the 9 months on oak/bugs has mellowed the hot alcohols and heavy esters nicely, and overall I dont believe the base beer to have been horrible, just poorly executed. These were my first forays into sour brewing, and my notes are atrocious, however I know that 1 gallon received russian river and jolly pumpkin dregs, as well as a hoping of toasted dark oak, 1 gallon received a portion of a roselare culture with red wine soaked dark oak and the final gallon received only roselare culture. The roselare cultures are showing a nice brett/bacteria balance, with a limited sourness which seems to still be developing. The dregs batch shows a more pronounced bacterial sourness and less of the funk which I enjoy. I think I’ll give them until june before tasting again and deciding on a plan, however I think a portion I wish to transfer to a large jar to keep a house culture on hand.

That is all for tasting as of now, however I’ve acquired a couple bottles of the NB lips of faith series which I intend to taste tonight and may write up tomorrow.

Simple Saison Tasting

Last summer I brewed up a pair of farmhouse style ales, the dark version picked up what seems to be a lacto infection at bottling, I think the culprit was a bottling spigot as it tasted clean at bottling time, however I’m uncertain. The simpler recipe, however, fermented quite nicely and I was quite happy with, so after having some time so sit in bottles, and as I consider my plans to re-brew it (with a few changes) I wrote up some tasting notes.

Batch Vol: 4 gal

Initial gravity: 1.063

Final gravity: 1.011

SRM: 8*

IBU: 27.3

Recipe:

7lb Pilsner Malt 79%

1lb Turbinado Sugar 11% (added w/ 15 min left in boil)

5oz Flaked Oats 4%

5oz Crystal 60l 4%

3oz Dextrine Malt 2%

1.5oz Czech Saaz @60 min

Fermented: Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison

a poor photograph of a poor pour of a decent beer

(Please excuse the poor photograph, I’ll add a better one if I remember or something)

Tasting Notes:

Appearance-Pours a golden yellow, voluminous head which stuck around for a good portion of the glass. The initial pour was quite clear and crisp in appearance, however vigorous foaming required a second pour, thus the cloudy appearance, not in fact the fault of the beer but operator error on my part.

Smell-Spicy and malty, hop aroma essentially nonexistent.

Taste-Yeast flavor clearly dominates, somewhat to a fault. If/when I rebrew I think I’ll try more vigilantly to keep fermentation temperature low. The malt profile, though simple, is certainly noticeable, albeit quite subdued. Fruity and spicy dominates. Hop bitterness also present though quite minimal.

Mouthfeel-Appropriately dry, though no so much as to be unpleasant.

What would I do different?

Overall I’m quite happy with the beer, it’s refreshing, interesting enough to make me happy to be able to drink it again, and generally quite pleasant. However, I will make some changes. First, I’d like to bring forward the malt profile a bit, maybe by cutting the pilsner malt and substituting with something a bit more formidable, maybe even some rye. Also cooler fermentation temps, I kept the fermenter in cooled water for the first 24 hours of fermentation, however after this initial activity I removed it and cooled it only with a wet towel, not adequate and the ester profile got a bit inflated. Finally I think a bit of a hop presence might be warranted, perhaps stepping the hop schedule to something like 2oz saaz @ 60min, 1oz saaz at 5min and 1oz saaz dry hop. I’m undecided on the 5 minute addition, but I used some late saaz in the dark saison which was infected and at bottling I was quite happy with it’s impact.

Verdict: I like it, but I’m excited to try again.

I think thats enough beating of a dead horse.

In other news!

I got to taste a sample of a Flanders Red I brewed with an old friend last summer. It was quite good despite only being about 6 months old and I’m really excited to see where it goes. We’re tentatively planning to taste it again this summer and then decide on a course of action.

Northern English Brown

This one is a bit of a back log,

Est O.G. 1.046

Est. F.G. 1.016

SRM 19*

IBU’s 26.4

Volume: 4 gal.

Recipe:

6lb English Maris Otter

7oz Crystal 60l

6oz flaked oats

6oz Chocolate

4oz Kiln Coffee

Hops:

.75 oz Brewers Gold @ 6o min

1tsp Irish Moss and Yeast Nutrient at 15 min.

Fermented w/ WLP002

Brewed 12/8, mashed @150F, measured O.G. 1.046, pitched 3c. starter after ~12 hours. I originally had planned to use 10 ounces of pale chocolate malt, however I ended up without and switched up the recipe to 6oz chocolate and 4oz kilned coffee malt, which in hindsight I think added a nice malty complexity that may have been absent, otherwise, that being said I havent re-done the percentage of grain bill so scaling up would require a bit more work (I dont think anyone keeps up on this or has any intention of brewing any of these recipes anyways, so I’m not concerned enough to re-do the maths.)

Measured gravity 12/22, dropped to 1.013, hoping to bottle by the 28th, but it’s the holidays.