I have yet another new brewery to add to my tasting lineup today in the Starr Hill Brewery. They are located in Crozet, Va and I have wanted to try their beers since the Washington D.C. season of Top Chef. I figure if some World class chefs enjoy the beer (even though it was product placement based) that it must be pretty good. I haven’t seen their products in my neck of the woods until recently and I grabbed a few of their beers.
Boxcar Pumpkin Porter pours a nice dark brown and has an off-white head. I always enjoy seeing a porter that isn’t black, but rather dark brown. In my eyes a porter should be a lighter version of a stout. The two cross in many areas, but you never see a dark brown stout and you can have a dark brown porter. The nose is very porteresk with chocolate and some smoky elements reaching out of the bubbles. I didn’t get any pumpkin or pumpkin spices on the nose.
The taste follows the nose at a “T.” There is a good chocolate malt flavor that runs through the beer and finishes a bit smokey. There wasn’t a hoppy finish but just enough to dry it out a bit. Again, I didn’t get any pumpkin flavor or spices. I don’t know if I just got an old bottle or if the other flavors masked anything that was there.
This was a pretty solid porter but I wouldn’t call it a pumpkin porter. It didn’t have any pumpkin beer qualities. If you would have given me this bottle without a label I would have told you that the beer was a porter. No more, no less. Continue reading
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.
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.