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Brown Porter Tasting

Back in January I brewed a brown porter. You can read about the brew day here and find a recipe for the beer here. As any homebrewer should evaluate their beer according to what they wanted out of their beer. I wanted a beer that was super easy drinking, low in ABV, and something that you could enjoy in the cold and cool weather.

My brown porter came out being a bit darker than I had intended. It was a deep ruby color when held up to the light. Surprisingly this beer was crystal clear. The nose was full of roast and malty sweetness. I didn’t get any hops on the nose. I would have liked to had this one be a bit dryer on the nose, but what are you going to do?

The taste of this beer was exactly what I was going for. It has a nice round roastiness with some dark caramels and toffee flavors. It isn’t overly sweet and the hops combine with the roasty flavors nicely to cut the sweetness down a peg or two. It has a very clean flavor to it and each component rolls into the next flavor.

I’m pretty happy with how this one came out. A number of people have tried it and enjoyed it. My parents, who don’t like craft beer in the least, didn’t even mind it. I like the recipe and I think I got everything I wanted out of it. The next time that I brew this beer I’m going to shoot for a different type of yeast. I want something a bit more English in nature that gives off a few more ester and a little more dryness. I think that the additions of those flavors would really round this beer out better and make it better.

Pilsner Brew Day

I brewed my Pilsner last Saturday, just as the snow ended. The snow setting made brewing a real treat compared to the normal blustery winter brew day. The recipe for this beer was pretty simple and the grain crush went quickly. Even though it was cold out, my mash water heated up quickly. My goal was to use a high water to grain ratio at low temperatures to get as much sugar out of the grain as possible, I ended up putting four gallons of water into ten pounds of grain. This gave me a 1.6:1 quart to pound of grain ratio. Typically this ratio is closer to 1.25:1. I have been doing these higher ratios recently and I have found that my efficiency has gone up, so I’m sticking with it.

I mashed for 90 minutes hitting my target of 151 °F through the whole mash. I then added my strike water at 175°F and let the whole thing rest for another ten minutes. Once everything was completed I began my boil. I went for a 75 minute boil this time around as I collected a bit more wort than I was anticipating. I added my whole leaf Hallertau hops at 60 minutes as you can see below.

I rarely use whole leaf hops, but they look awesome in the beer. For the next 45 minutes I read my book while waiting for the next hop addition. At 15 minutes I added the Sterling hops (pellets), my wort chiller, and the Irish moss. At 10 minutes I added a yeast nutrient that I have had good success with. Come fame out I turned on the wort chiller water. At this time I also begin transferring a different lager beer from the fermentor to the keg. Doing two things at once is nice, but also hectic.

I had to switch between checking on the beer transfer and stirring the wort to help it cool more quickly. As the completed beer finished its transfer, I put the airlock back on the fermentor in order to protect the yeast cake from the air. The wort cooled down to 60 °F in about 20 minutes and I decided to put it in the fermentor. The whole leaf hops tried to clog my auto-siphon but they did not succeed. After all of the wort was in the fermentor I shook it up to make sure that the yeast mixed with the beer and to make sure that it was properly oxygenated.

My target goal of 1.053 was hit dead on. I really love hitting my goals and I am going to continue to do a looser mash and longer mash time as the success that I have had with it continues to impress. Within six hours this beer was producing bubbles in the airlock. I plan on leaving it in my basement for a month at 55 °F. From there I will keg it and lager it at colder temperatures for two to four weeks. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I transfer it over to the keg. (more…)

Pilsner Recipe

Now that I am living in a place big enough to brew more beer, I have done just that. My “new” (moved in July) place has an unfinished basement that is perfect for all of my brewing supplies. One of the other benefits that I have found to having a basement was that it stays at a consistent 55 degrees in the winter, perfect temperatures for lagers. In my 5+ years of brewing, I have only attempted one lager before, but in 2012 alone I have brewed 3 and have plans for a few more before the weather warms up.

One of the first lagers that I brewed this year is a pilsner. I’m a big fan of a well done pilsner . I’ve only reviewed one pilsner on this site, but I have a few in the pipeline that need to get posted. Victory and Stoudts both make an excellent pilsner and I wanted to try my hand at making one. I also had a few lovely pilsners while I was in Germany last summer, so my intentions for this recipe is to make a mix of the examples that I enjoy with the southern German examples that I had.

There are many ways to do a pilsner, but I wanted to keep it simple with only two malts: pilsner and Munich. The idea behind the Munich malt is that it gives many of the same characteristics to a pilsner as what a traditional decoction would, without all of the work. I wanted to use only a touch of Munich so that the pilsner would retain its light color. I also wanted my pilsner to be a slightly more hops and ABV than a traditional one. I managed to stick within style, but on the extreme high side of the style. My recipe is below:

  • 9.5 lbs. Pilsner Malt
  • 1/2 lb. Munich Malt
  • 2 oz. Hallertau (3.3% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz. Sterling (7% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • WLP 838 Southern German Lager

The expected outcomes for this beer are:

  • 5.2% ABV
  • 37 IBUs
  • 4.75 SRM

I really like Hallertau hops, but I wanted something a bit “punchier” for the aroma hop addition. Sterling is basically a strong version of Hallertau and has all of the same characteristics, but just intensified. I wanted to stay traditional with the ingredients as well, so I kept everything in line with that thinking.

The main reason I went with the Southern German Lager yeast is because I had a yeast cake of it from a previous batch of beer ready to go and I also like the flavor profile that it gives. The bready flavors seem to really come out with this yeast strain, and I thought that they would compliment the recipe. I also wanted to emulate the southern German pilsners that I had last summer.

 

Brown Porter Brew Day

This is the first Brew Day post that I have done in almost half a year. I am really trying to document my homebrewing more this year and this far I think that I have done a decent job. My Brown Porter recipe was pretty straight forward and didn’t have a complicated hopping schedule or anything else that would cause difficulty. I am getting more used to using my grain mill now, as this is the third batch of beer brewed using it, and I think that I have all of the kinks worked out.

 The image above shows that nice grain crush that my grain mill has been giving me. While I crushed the grains, the mash water was heating up on the burner outside. Once the water reached the correct temperature, I combined it with the grain in my cooler and hit 152 degrees Fahrenheit on the dot. Go me!

Pictured above this are the cracked grains pre-water. You can clearly see the darker grains, chocolate and roasted barely, that will give the beer its darker color. I then drained the first runnings out of the cooler and added the strike water. I held the strike water in the cooler for about ten minutes before draining it as well. I collected a little over six gallons total. I then boiled for an hour and followed the hopping schedule as noted in the recipe.

At 15 minutes I added the wort chiller and Irish Moss in addition to the hops. At the 10 minute mark I added some yeast nutrient as well. I boiled off a little over a half a gallon of water during the hour long boil. During the winter, the water coming into the wort chiller is super cold and this beer cooled down from 212 to 65 in about 15 minutes. During this time I transferred the IPA to a keg. I then put my new Brown Porter wort right on top of the yeast cake from the IPA. I left the hop particles at the bottom of the boil kettle and collected five gallons of beer. I did better than my expected gravity of 1.052 by getting a 1.053. It was the first time that I have ever done better than expect. I generally fall a few points below where I want to be. I think it was mostly due to the higher water to grain ratio of ~1.6 qt/lb then the normal 1.25 qt/lb. I started seeing bubbles in the airlock within two hours of this beer being put into the fermentor.

As a sidenote: I had to hook up a blow-off tube for this one because the fermentation was very active.

I will have some tasting notes up for this one as soon as it is ready to drink. The same goes for my IPA. (more…)

Brown Porter Recipe

A brown porter is a style of beer that I have really enjoyed for a long period of time. I really enjoy fully flavored beers that provide a bit of roast, but also don’t kill you with alcohol. I also find porters to be more sipping beers, despite their low alcohol (4-5.4%). My thinking behind this beer was that I wanted to have something that was easy to make, super drinkable, and enjoyable in cold weather. I also wanted a beer that I could pitch on top of my IPA yeast. Below is the recipe that I came with for my take on a brown porter. It is as of yet, untested, but I will let you know how it turned out in a few weeks.

  • 6.25 lbs. English 2-Row
  • 2 lbs. Munich Malt
  • 1 lb. Crystal 40
  • 1/2 lb. Chocolate Malt
  • 1/4 lb. Roasted Barley
  • 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (4.9% AA) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings (4.9% AA) @ 15 minutes
  • English Ale Yeast

The expected outcomes for this beer at a 75% efficiency is 5.2% ABV and ~28 IBUs.

Again I like using a 2-Row as my base malt for the majority of my recipes and an English version works really good in this style. To me it adds a bit more body and flavor than the American versions. I also like to add 10-20% Munich Malt to add some light caramels, biscuit, and bready flavors to my beers. I went pretty heavy with the crystal on this beer, but I wanted to have a sweetness to it. The crystal also adds some nice color to the beer. My final two malt additions, chocolate and roasted barley, are there to give the flavors they indicate. I wanted to have some chocolate malt to add some chocolate tones to this beer. The roasted barley is there to add the needed roast flavors and to help cut through the sweetness.

I went with some traditional English hops to stick with the flavor styles properly. I also like the mild nature of the hops and the “natural” quality they give to the beer. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this beer turns out as I love the style and I really hope that I can brew up a quality/repeatable recipe. Who knows, this could serve as a base for future beers.