Tag Archives: chocolate malt

Beer Review #246 Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

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

Beer Review #220 Hop Noir

If you have read this blog for a period of time you will know that I think very highly of Peak Organic Brewing Company. While I haven’t reviewed them in almost 100 beer reviews, they still rank up there in my books. When I was at the beer store a month or so ago I finally saw a new beer from them, Hop Noir. According to the bottle Hop Noir is a black IPA and comes in a 5.3%. There is some debate if a black IPA should be called a black IPA. I only have one other black IPA under my belt, and regardless of the name, the style is wonderful.

Hop Noir pours a jet black color and has a dense tan head. The nose is fully of fun smells. There are some great chocolates, both milk and dark, that jump out at first and then give way to a dull sweet roasted smell. When combined, all of these aromas have a cocoa feel. There are some distant hops hiding behind everything, but the malt is the real start here.

This beer starts with a gentle malt upfront that is fairly thin feeling, but then it gives way to a really nice roast chocolate combination. Unlike a lot of dark beers where the roast is the main player, the chocolate malt really thrives in this ale. About halfway through the beer the hops finally kick in. The bitterness is mildly strong for an IPA but it meshes perfectly with the malt. Unlike a lot of IPAs the malt is the real star of this beer and, from my experience, style.

This beer is damn smooth. It has a great balance of flavors and really just strikes a cord with me. The only problem that I found is that this beer is a sneaky SOB. It comes in at a shocking 8.2% ABV, but it doesn’t have even the slightest hint of heat. My wife really liked this one, and she is not a fan of hops (but she does know craft beer well). I will be picking up more of this beer shortly.  Continue reading

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.

Winter Warmer Recipe

11-20-01In my last homebrew post I talked about doing a Colonial American style beer. Well I am still working on that, but I have a lot more reading to do so that I can make it accurately. In the meantime, I thought that I would embrace the coming season change and got with a winter warmer. I’ve always been a fan of winter seasonal beers, but I have never made one of my own. My wife has also been asking me to make something dark and malty. A winter warmer fits perfectly into that style.

Let me begin with the fact that I have only had a handful of beers classified as “winter warmer” before in my life. I think my favorite belongs to Lancaster Brewing Company, which I enjoyed plenty of last year back in PA. The things I like about it are the facts that it has a huge body, a lot of different flavor notes (some fruit, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and caramel), and it all comes in being very well balanced. Furthermore, for an 8.9% abv beer there isn’t much, if any, alcohol noticeable and there is not a lot of hop bite on the back. The malt and complexity in it are what shine in this beer.

So I began doing some research trying to find a starting point with this beer. And after all was said and done, I came up with a recipe that I think is unique and should deliver a great amount of complexity.

  • 8.0 lbs American 2-Row
  • 2.0 lbs Maris Otter Pale Malt
  • 1.0 lbs Caramel Malt 90L
  • 1.0 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Wheat Malt
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Rye Malt
  • 0.5 lbs American Black Patent
  • 1.0 lbs Molasses
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 60 mins)
  • 1 oz Fuggle hops (3.6% AA for 15 mins)
  • Nottingham Dry Ale yeast, with starter

I’m planning on mashing this at about 150 degrees for an hour. Doing so should give a nice balance between malt character and easy fermenting sugar. The 1 lb of molasses will be added into the kettle during the first runnings. I put a lot of dark malts into this beer becasue I want something with some coffee, molasses, and chocolate notes.

The chocolate wheat and rye were a last minute decision and the original recipe had one pound of wheat malt. I’ve never used chocolate wheat/rye malt and this is my first experience with rye malt overall, so I’m not entirely sure what impacts they will have. From my  understanding, rye malt tends to dry a beer out and give a crisper feel to it. Even at that, it makes up about 4% of then total grain bill, so it should not have a large effect weather it be positive or negative.

I also went with a dry ale yeast here for a few reasons. First, I used it on the pumpkin ale with good results. Second, the dry ale yeast is easy to make a starter with and with the fluctuation in temperatures here in Texas during this time of year (40 degrees between day and night) I didn’t want any active yeast to suffer. Third is that the optimal temperature range for this yeast is 57-70 degrees which falls perfectly into my apartment’s temperatures. Fourth, it is highly flocculant (precipitating) and highly attenuating. And lastly, it has a lost ester profile, so the malt should be able to shine through even more when it is not competing with the hops or yeast esters.

The final stats on the beer look like this:

  • OG 1.075
  • 39 SRM
  • 7.5% ABV
  • 20.0 IBUs

I plan of fermenting for a week (or until fermention is complete) and than putting it into a secondary for 2-3 weeks. After that I will bottle it and leave it condition for another 2-3 weeks (hopefully there will be no carbonation problems this time around). Then I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Beer Review #5 Rogue Mocha Porter

I’m a big fan of Rouge’s beers. This one newly appeared in the 6-pack store the other day and I just had to get it and try it out. As usual, I’ll let the brewery describe the beer first:

Tasting Notes:
Ruddy brown in color, a bittersweet balance of malt and hops with a light cream finish.

13 Ingredients:
Malts: Northwest Harrington & Klages;
135-165, 95-115, and 70-80 Crystal; Beeston Chocolate, Black, Munich
and Carastan.
Hops: Centennial & Perle Hops.
Yeast & Water: Rogue’s Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.

Specs:
13º PLATO
54 IBU
73 AA
77º Lovibond”

Rouge’s Mocha Porter pours a dark black with a full light brown head. It had great head retention that lasted all the way though the beer. The smell was full of chocolate malt, coffee bitterness, and a bit of hops. Overall I loved the look and smell of this beer.

Upon first taste there is a lot of malty flavor going on. The chocolate malt is the first thing you notice, followed by some coffee, then a very slight hop flavor. It was a thin beer (as expected with a porter) and was very drinkable.

One thing I did notice was a slight chalky mouth feel after I was done. Everything tasted fine, it just left that feeling in my mouth. It was interesting, but to a great or terrible thing. As I said eariler I love Rouge brews, while this one isn’t my favorite, it is very good and worth a try.