Posts Tagged 'oak'

#AG21 – Pork Chop Porter


It’s that time of year again – time to get Pork Chop Porter on! This recipe did very well in last years competition, and so I’m doing nothing to it except changing the yeast strain back to an American ale yeast, instead of the less attenuative English strain. As good as last years attempt was, I thought the previous years was nicer and more drinkable.

This year I’ll be getting creative, post-fermentation. I’m planning on racking different portions of the beer into demi-johns for some creative flavour additions. One gallon is going to be aged on raspberries (fresh or frozen, I’m not sure yet). Another gallon will be aged on oak chips and bottled with a little vanilla-infused bourbon. And another gallon will end up as some some of spiced beer. I’m not sure about this one yet – might be vanilla or chipotle chilies. And of course, I’ll be bottling some plain porter too.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 26.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.068 SG
Estimated Color: 76.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 41.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.800 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 82.9 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 6.4 %
0.350 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 5.0 %
0.225 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 3.2 %
0.175 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 2.5 %
26 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 32.2 IBUs
25 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 15.0, 5.6 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
25 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 3.5 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (400ml yeast slurry from Mulligan’s Irish Red)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.000 kg
Mash In           Add 19.60 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 14.31l) of 77.0 C water

12/10/2014 Brew Day – Mash temperature was a good bit lower than I wanted at 64.5C, so I did a 90 minute mash to ensure good conversion. In screwing around trying to correct the mash temperature I might have added too much mash/sparge water and ended up with a larger pre-boil volume than intended. Took a pre-boil gravity reading though, and all seemed fine. Boil was uneventful, all additions made at the correct times. Was a bit worried about the rate of boil-off though, and had both elements on, furiously boiling down the wort. Again, my post-boil volume was only barely over 23 litres, so I wasn’t concerned. My OG came in at 1.060, which is disappointingly low. I need to watch my volumes more, I think. I also need to tighten my grain mill a little bit and I’m not sure my crush is fine enough and may be losing a lot of efficiency as a result.

01/11/2014 – The porter has been sitting in the fermenter a couple of days longer than I intended, but tonight I set about splitting the batch of beer and bottling and adding various flavourings. I bottled 10 bottles of plain porter. Laziness got the better of me though, and I ended up using carb drops instead of batch priming. However, I did 5 bottles with 1 carb drop, which I’m expecting to be under-carbed, going on past experience. I also did 5 bottles with 2 carb drops per bottle, which will obviously give a livelier carbonation, but might end up being too lively. At least I have some insurance with the other 5 bottles.

I racked 4.5l onto 350g of thawed frozen raspberries from M&S. The raspberries tasted lovely. I squashed them to a puree as they went through the funnel into the demijohn. This batch was refermenting within a couple of hours. Might be difficult to separate this beer from the fruit debris and might involve a secondary, as I did with my berry cider some months back

I also racked 4.75l to a demi-john and added 11g of sanitised, American, medium-toast oak chips. The chips were sanitised in a steamer beforehand. My experience with oak chips in the Trade Winds Imperial Stout has shown that it’s best to tread carefully with the oak. The stout ended up tasting very astringent, possibly due to the oak chips not being sanitised first. I suspect the steaming process draws some of the harsher flavours out of the oak before it goes into the beer.

Finally, I racked 4.5l onto 250g of coconut flakes. 200g were toasted lightly in the oven and 50g were left untoasted. This batch might give me some difficulty when siphoning due to the tiny, broken coconut flakes.

The batches look mad sitting side by side. Not like beer at all, yet looking very tasty. more like dessert than beer! I’m not sure yet how long I’m going to leave the beers on the flavourings, more research needed, but I’d say the raspberry batch will be in the fermenter the longest as I want to make sure the sugars in the fruit are fully fermented out.

12/11/2014 – I was all geared up for a mammoth bottling session of my flaovured porters, not expecting that one of the worst disasters of my home brewing career was right around the corner. The oak batch was a breeze and got 8 bottles from that batch. The coconut was a complete diaster, however. The bits of coconut blocked the siphon as I feared it would. I got one bottle done before putting the bung back in the demi-john to deal with on another day. The raspberry was looking to be the same pain in the arse – i had to restarter the siphon a couple of times. But I eventually got seven bottles done. To further add to my woes, I had taken samples of all three beers and all extremely disappointing – the oaked version was completely over-oaked. The raspberry porter was far too acidic, with the porter flavour struggling against the fruit. The coconut had an impressive whack of coconut off it, but far too much. Again, I struggled to taste the porter behind all that coconut. I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the coconut porter now – it’s probably not worth the inevitable hassle that I would have trying to bottle it. Some important lessons learned with this one – tread more carefully with these flavourings and use muslin bags to contain the mess!

19/11/2014 – Got around to bottling the coconut batch. It is surely the most disastrous batch of beer I’ve ever done. Nothing good can come of this. I knew trying to siphon this again was doomed to failure, so I figured it was either a case of dumping the batch or dispensing with brewing best practice. What’s the worst that could happen? So I ended up straining the beer through a sanitiised muslin hop bag into a 5l fermenter. Looked pretty clear and free from coconut debris, so I was happy enough. I figured there was no point in siphoning into bottles at this stage – after all, I just want a finished beer now so that I can get a sense of the level of coconut required if I ever do a coconut beer again. (Which at the moment, is highly unlikely..) So I just poured through a funnel, then carbed with 1.5 carb drops and put the caps on. After the bottles had settled a few hours later I noticed that a load of oily scum had risen to the top of the bottles! An absolute disaster, but a few lessons learned.

03/01/2015 – Time to do a long overdue update on these beers. The base porter is tasting really good, though perhaps not as good as previous attempts. The raspberry version was vile on the first couple of tastes, far too acidic. Great raspberry flavour but not showing enough porter flavour. But it has started to grow on me, I have to say. Not sure if it’s competition standard though. The coconut version is cursed with a layer of white scum around the top of the bottle, but actually tastes decent. Far too heavy on the coconut flavour though, and masks the porter flavours once again. The oaked version has completely failed to carbonate, as of this writing, but I’m trying to rescue it. A noble experiment, but overall, a disappointing result. Especially given the amount of planning, work and expectation involved.

12/01/2015 – after taking the oak-aged porter into the house again for a couple of weeks, it’s actually carbonated. Carbonation level isn’t great though. Flavour-wise, it’s not bad, but not as good as the oaked Winterfell.

AG#15 – Winterfell Smoked Porter


Despite having never drank a smoked porter before, I’ve always wanted to brew one. I’ve had the White Gypsy Imperial Stout, which definitely includes a small portion of smoked malt, probably peat-smoked. The Stone Smoked Porter is one of the more famous homebrew clones of smoked beers available on the internet, and I’ve always liked the look of the recipe. Peat-smoked malt seems to divide people – some commentators, like Jamil Zainasheff will say that peat-smoked malt has no place in beer brewing. I’d take the more pragmatic approach, if great breweries like Stone and White Gypsy are using it, then why the hell not?

From the research I’ve done (yeah, browsing the ‘net..), restrained use seems to be very important when using peat-smoked malt, unlike beechwood-smoked rauchmalt (using in the smoked lager style ‘Rauchbier’, which has a more subtle flavour and can be used as a large percentage of the grist. The Stone recipe uses 4 oz. (bloody American measurements!) of the peat-smoked malt, but the effect is reported to be a subtle smoke flavour. I want something that is going to be an unashamed smoked beer, without being overwhelming. I also want something that is going to age well. So I’ve decided to add an extra ounce of peated malt, bringing me up to 150g.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.064 SG
Estimated Color: 72.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 56.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 81.9 %
0.550 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 8.5 %
0.300 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (147.8 EBC), 4.6 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (3.9 EBC), 3.1 %
0.150 kg Peat Smoked Malt (5.5 EBC), 1.9 %
35 g Magnum [10.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 51.6 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
20 g Goldings, East Kent [6.90 %] – Boil 15.0, 5.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) (500ml slurry from Bad Landlord Best Bitter)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.475 kg
Mash In           Add 18.13 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.25l) of 77.0 C water

11/05/2014 Brew Day – I was concerned that I wasn’t getting a vigorous enough boil, but I boiled with two elements for much of the time, cycling one of the elements on and off. Got more boil-off than usual, but this not being a hoppy beer, I didn’t have any of the hop soakage I’d usually have, so I still got 19 litres into the fermenter.

12/05/2014 – Finished up the brew and pitched yeast about about 8pm last night, so I was a bit surprised to see that fermentation hadn’t really kicked off when I got up this morning. A bit of bubble action going on, but I’d have expected kreusen nearly 12 hours later, considering it was yeast slurry I pitched. Not too worried though, as there were bubbles coming through. Fermentation had well kicked off by the time I got home from work.

13/05/2014 – Huge amount of sulphur coming off this WLP002 yeast. I got huge sulphur from the Bad Landlord ale too and I thought it was because I was fermenting it in a really cold room. But it must be just a characteristic of this strain. Vigorous fermentation happening over the last 24 hours.

25/05/2014 – Bottled (estimate). Also racked 1 gal to a demi-john and added 8g of oak chips for some aging. I used less oak chips than I used in the American barleywine, as I thought that toasted a bit too oaky.

08/06/2014 – Bottled the oaked portion of this beer and got 8 bottles as expected. There’s definitely oak flavour there, but not as noticeable as in the American barleywine. It was oaked for about 8 days I reckon.

06/07/2014 – I was really looking forward to tasting this, but the first taste is quite disappointing. The carbonation level is way too light. And I’ve no way of knowing what it should have been, because I didn’t take proper notes! Aside from the carbonation, there’s not much smoke flavour in it at all. It’s probably a decent porter, nice and roasty, with some nice fruity esters from the English yeast strain. Can’t get over the carb level though! Did the WLP002 flocc out too soon, I wonder? I don’t think this is going to be one of my aging beers after all.

10/07/2014 – This bottle was a little better. The carbonation was better and the head formation was improved. Head didn’t last long though. Might be because the beer is not getting a chance to cold condition in the warm shed. Good flavour though, despite the lack of peat smoke coming through.

22/08/2014 – Sampled a bottle of the oaked version. Tastes nice, but the carbonation level from the drops is disappointing. The oak level is quite nice though – subtle, I suppose. The base beer is a decent porter, but the low carbonation lets it down.

23/11/2014 – The consensus online seems to be that smoke flavours will drop out of a beer given an extended aging period, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with this beer. The smoke flavour is still prominent and the beer is still tasting great. Great mouthfeel from the English ale yeast.

AG#14 – Old Dawg American Barleywine


So much for 2014 being the year of the session beer! This is the second barleywine I’ve done in a week! 🙂

This was a spur of the moment brew, because I had a couple of bottles of yeast slurry from the Chasing Tail Pale Ale that I didn’t want to go to waste. I’ve wanted to do a barleywine for ages now, and I figure that if I’m getting my keg system on the go this summer, I’ll have plenty of bottles doing nothing. What better way to utilise them than to start off an archive of “stock” ales. I decided to using the Big Dawg Imperial Amber as the basis for this barleywine. I’ll be using the same amounts of specialty malts, but obviously the gravity will be much higher on this beer, which will necessitate a lot more base malt. The only substitution I’ll be making will be subbing the chocolate malt with the pale version. In order to fit in with style guidelines, I want to make sure I don’t get too much roastiness and keep the dark colour in check.


Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.090 SG
Estimated Color: 26.0 EBC
Estimated IBU: 96.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 75.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 71.8 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 5.1 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.6 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (45.3 EBC), 1.9 %
0.050 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (197.0 EBC), 0.6 %
0.050 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (591.0 EBC), 0.6 %
1.000 kg Light Dry Extract (15.8 EBC), 12.8 %
35 g Columbus [15.90 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 70.7 IBUs
0.350 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose), 4.5 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
30 g Cascade [9.20 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 8.5 IBUs
30 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 17.1 IBUs
71 g Cascade [9.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
22 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (500ml slurry from Chasing Tail Pale Ale)
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.800 kg
Mash In Add 18.06 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.30l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 20/04/2014 – Mashed at 67.8C, a bit higher than my intended target. But mashed for 90 minutes, and decided to leave the wort in two FVs for boiling the next morning. Wort is an amazing colour, and great aroma. Just a little bit of roast there. Can’t wait to layer some big American hop flavour on top of this monster of a beer.

Brew Day – 21/04/2014 – A LOT of trub into the fermenter. Think I used a good bit more Whirlfloc than usual and ended up with masses of cold break. So it all got stirred up when I was helping it through the hop blocker. I also had very little hops in the boiler because I was using two muslin bags. It might have back-fired on me doing this as there was no hops to filter the break material. Chilled to about 18C before pitching yeast and not only had fermentation kicked off with a few hours, but it’s threatening to escape the fermenter. I probably massively overpitched, but I’m hoping that won’t do any harm in a beer as big as this. Got about 18.5 litres at 1.092, just slightly higher OG than my intended target. Smells great, though I’m concerned about all that trub.

10/05/2014 – Was worried that the fermenter smelled too yeasty, so I took a sample out and tasted. Absolutely bonkers bitterness, massive resiny hop character. Plenty of American hop citrus there, but a little drowned out by the assault of bitterness. I’d planned on dry-hopping, but I didn’t have any Cascade and figured dry-hopping would add very little given the long aging period. Decided to bottle straight away. I had a batch priming solution ready to go and forgot about it! Racked straight into the bottles! So I used carb drops, which will not give the measured level of carbonation I expect these days, but hopefully it will come out well. One carb drop for each 500ml bottle. Got 22 x 500ml bottles from the batch. Recorded a FG of 1.020, which is an excellent level of attenuation, giving an ABV of 9.6%. Even though both my OG and FG figures were just slightly off, my intended ABV was spot-on in the end.

I also racked almost 5 litres into a demi-john and added 15g of American medium-toast oak chips. The oak chips had been sanitised by steaming in a colander for about 10 minutes. I was going to toss them in straight from the bag, but I chickened out. Probably a wise move. The smell from the oak chips was amazing. Can’t wait to do more experiments with oak. Will bottle the oaked version in about 2 weeks time.

13/09/2014 – Thought it might be a bit early for a sample of this, but already it tastes absolutely fantastic. So much for cellaring this, I can’t see it lasting too long. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be dark enough because I subbed the chocolate malt with pale chocolate, but the colour is perfect. Amazing blend of toasty malt and hops. No hot alcohols, but there’s no mistake that it’s a barleywine you’re drinking. I had a bottle of 2011 Bigfoot during the week and the quality of this home brew is right up there with one of the best commercial examples of the style. Very pleased.

18/09/2014 – Opened a bottle of this at a meet this evening which was a little disappointing due to the fact that it was under-carbonated. The low carbonation makes the beer more sweet and cloying. It also lessens the hop impact a bit too. I hope they’re not all like this one! Definitely going to do a re-brew of this in the next few months.

02/11/2014 – Extremely disappointed to find that the oaked version of this beer is absolutely flat as a pancake! And the heartbreaking thing is that the flavour is amazing, at least as far as I can tell in a completely flat beer. The level of oak is really good, and melds well with the hop and dark malt flavours. I don’t really want to just chuck this batch away, so I’m going to attempt to re-seed and maybe even re-carb the oaked portion of the barleywine batch, as well as some of the regular, unoaked barleywine.

24/02/2015 – Quick update on this. Great recipe, great beer, but woefully under carbonated. The key to doing a barleywine like this is getting a good level of carbonation to make the body seem lighter. I ended up dumping all of the oaked batch, because it wasn’t carbonated at all. I’ve dumped a lot of the regular barleywine too – it’s alright for a few sips but quickly becomes overwhelming because of the low carbonation. I think I have a couple of bottle left though, which I’ll use to plan a re-brew of this recipe.

PM#13 – “South Dublin Brewers” Imperial Porter


This beer is to be part of a collaborative brew by the NHC’s South Dublin Brewers in order to fill a used 200-litre Bushmills barrel. The 10% Imperial Porter will be brewed and fermented separately by 9 different contributors and then racked to the barrel in order to undergo a period of aging and to draw out the oak and whiskey flavours from the barrel. I’ve already started collecting 330ml bottles for this beer – smaller measures are going to be necessary, I think!


Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.098 SG
Estimated Color: 57.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 145.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


1.500 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 24.6 %
0.750 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 12.3 %
0.750 kg Brown Malt (65.0 SRM), 12.3 %
0.375 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM), 6.2 %
0.187 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 3.1 %
0.187 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 3.1 %
0.187 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM),  3.1 %
0.500 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM), 8.2 %
39 g Magnum [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 93.3 IBUs
1.650 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 27.1 %
102 g Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] – Boil 20.0, 37.0 IBUs
1.5 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Brew Day #1 04/05/2013 – There’s a huge amount of roasted malt going into this brew (especially given that this is a partial mash) so I was a little apprehensive about how this would effect my mash pH, and consequently, my starch conversion. A fairly hefty amount of grain for me, but the mash was still pretty loose. I used about 12 litres of treated water in the mash, and kept around 6 litres for sparging. Mashed at around 67-68C. The smell from the mash was absolutely fantastic, huge espresso and caramel. The smell from the huge 20-minute flavour addition was fantastic too – 102g of freshly-opened East Kent Goldings. Huge amount of hop material at the end of the boil. The wort is so incredibly sweet and it has a huge amount of hop flavour. Hopefully, some of this will persist in the finished/aged beer. No hitches at all – I got just over 14 litres at a gravity of 1.098. REhydrated 1.5 packets of Safale US-05 and fermentation was well under way less than 12 hours later.

Brew Day #2 05/05/2013 – Every thing went according to plan, the same as yesterday’s brew day really. I’ve got about 28-29 litres in the fermenters. After lossed to trub, I should have 26 litres available for transfer to the barrel.

07/05/2013 – Both fermenters are happily bubbling, but I’m not getting the volcanic fermentation I was expecting. There’s maybe two inches of kreusen on top of the fermenting beer. Should be fine, but I’ll be checking the fermentation and gravity over the next 2 or 3 weeks.

09/05/2013 – Both fermenters have now slowed down and most of the kreusen has dropped. Still a bit of foam on top of both FVs though. I wasn’t quite expecting fermentation to be finished at this stage to be honest; but if there was a really good pitch rate then this would make sense.

03/03/2014 – This beer (and the South Dublin Brewers) won a silver medal in the “barrel-aged” category of the National Brewing Championship. Easy to see why from the samples I’ve tasted.

03/05/2014 – Emptied barrel and got a corny-full of porter (18 litres) from my contribution. Beer smells amazing, boozy but not harsh. The assembled brewers also cleaned out the barrel and racked in another 217 litres of freshly brewed English barleywine.

23/11/2014 – After several months sitting in the corny, I finally got around to bottling this today. Of course, there was no chance of any viable yeast being left in the beer, so I had to re-seed with some fresh US-05. I weighed out approximately 1-2g of dried yeast and re-hydrated in a ramekin in about 50ml of tap water. This is the first time I’ve re-seeded a beer with yeast. I added the yeast to the bottling bucket as the beer was being racked from the corny. Primed with 125g of corn sugar. Bottled in a variety of bottles (1 x 1l, 19 x 500ml, 21 x 330ml). The aroma from the beer is absolutely amazing.

26/11/2014 – Happy days. There’s visible signs of fermentation going on in the bottle. Plenty of bubbles coming out of solution when I gently shake the bottle. I’d kind of lost interest in this beer, I have to say, but now I’m really looking forward to having this fully conditioned for Christmas.

13/12/2014 – Uh-oh.. don’t know what’s happened here. Cracked open a 330ml bottle and it was as flat as a pancake.. I can’t think why this hasn’t carbonated. It got a fresh dose of yeast and what I thought was ample time conditioning at fermentation temperatures. Bit of research needed.

28/12/2014 – Brought the bottles back into the house, and gave them a gentle shake to stir the yeast (assuming there is any!) into suspension. I’ll leave it a few weeks before testing another bottle.

10/01/2015 – It seems as if there’s bubbles in the bottles. But I thought the same when I test the bottle last November too. Will leave another couple of weeks I think.

24/01/2015 – Finally!! It’s carbonated! Taking the bottle back into the warm house, rousing the yeast in the bottom of the bottles, and exercising a bit of patience has worked. The beer is so complex and sophisticated. It’s actually staggering how good quality is, certainly better than any commercial barrel-aged stout I’ve ever tasted.

PM#5 – Pork Chop Porter

A wise Englishman I know eschews food when out for a few drinks claiming “there’s a pork chop in every pint, mate!”. This brew is in honour of him.

This is my beer for supping over the Christmas period so I’m hoping for something with plenty of mouthfeel, good alcohol warmth and plenty of roastiness. The recipe is based on the Robust Porter contained in Jamil Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles. For robust porters, Jamil recommends a 40/60 blend of lighter and darker roasted malts to give a balanced roastiness to the beer. For this 19 litre batch, that means 225g of black malt and 340g of chocolate malt. I’ve decided to use amber malt in place of his Munich as I liked the flavour when I used it in an English pale ale recently. I’m bittering with Northern Brewer because I have a full bag in the bottom of my fridge which is feeling very unloved. I’m also using two flavour additions of East Kent Goldings. US-05 yeast for a nice clean profile which will allow the malt flavours to shine.

Category: Robust Porter
Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Batch Size: 19 L
Volume Boiled: 12 L
Total Grain/Extract: 4.09 kg
Total Hops: 72.0 g


  • 1 kg Maris Otter Pale
  • 0.45 kg Crystal 40
  • 0.17 kg Amber Malt
  • 0.34 kg Chocolate Malt
  • 0.225 kg Black Malt
  • 1.1 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 1 kg Dry Light Extract
  • 30 g Northern Brewer (Whole, 8.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 6 %AA) boiled 15 min.
  • 21 g East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 6 %AA) boiled 1 min.
  • 0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (15 mins)
  • Yeast: Fermentis Safale US-05

Original Gravity: 1.065 (1.048 – 1.065)
Terminal Gravity: 1.015 (1.012 – 1.016)
Color: 29.63 °SRM (22.00 – 35.00 °SRM)
Bitterness: 37.9 IBU (25.00 – 50.00 IBU)
ABV: 6.6 % (4.80 – 6.50 %)

Targets (Brewing Classic Styles Robust Porter): OG: 1064, IBU: 37, SRM: 35

I did the mash for my first porter last night and I plan on doing the boil tonight. The wort smells and looks great but a few things are concerning me. I was using a new stainless steel steamer basket to protect the grain bag from scorching but I figured there wouldn’t be enough room in my smaller pot, which is around 10 litres. I hastily made the decision to do the mash in my 20 litre brewpot and use the full boil volume of water including an extra litre for grain absorption. So, that makes about 13 litres in total. Strike water was 72C and I used heat to bring back up to 68C. Mash for 1 hour, applying heat at the 30-minute mark to maintain the mash temperature. I also used an extra 30% (or 300g) of base malt to account for a no-sparge. I’m thinking now that I should have upped the specialty malts too. I gave the bag a decent squeeze too but I’d say there’s plenty of goodness left in the grain. I’m hoping it won’t be too lacking in flavour.

I’ve also been reading lately about the challenges of partial mashing dark beers, where the pH level can encourage tannins to be leached out of the grain husks. The wort doesn’t taste tannic or astringent at the moment so I hope there’s no problem there. I didn’t want to squeeze the grain bag too hard for this reason.

If I have problems with this I think the solution might be to steep the darker grains separately from the mash. But this is a bit of pullaver and I wanted to avoid that work this time around. I might also have to examine my water volumes and see how I can best accomplish a “dunk-sparge” after I finish mashing. I might try this for my next beer in any case, just to increase my efficiency.

13/10/2012 – Worried about the lack of sparge, I added an extra 100g of spraymalt in some vague and unscientific  attempt to hit my intended OG. As it turned out, I hit my OG following water top-up, but that was only with the extra base malt and spraymalt. Serious issues with efficiency obviously, but I’m happy enough with this one. Any worries I had about getting enough colour out of the roasted malts were unfounded. This thing is as black as soot. Pitched a good quantity of yeast slurry from the Leann Dearg and it was bubbling away within the hour. Excellent.

23/10/2012 – Bottled using 130g dextrose (actually Dunnes Stores glucose). Looks completely different from the Shamrock variety when it’s dry. Got a FG of 1.014. Had a quick taste from the trial jar and it’s quite promising given the beer is quite young. Lots of sweetness and very pleasant alcohol warmth, but not “hot” alcohol. Plenty of chocolate and roasted character coming through which should develop further as it bottle conditions. I got 32 bottles from the batch.

I also steeped 50ml of Jim Beam bourbon and soaked half a vanilla pod with the seeds scraped out. Steeped for 2 days, the aroma of the bourbon was intense!! I dosed 5 of the bottles as follows: 2 x 6ml, 2 x 8 ml, 1 x 10ml. I’m guessing the vanilla bourbon porter might take a little longer to age into something drinkable. I’d say it will be pretty potent in terms of alcohol, but I think the bourbon/vanilla flavour will go well with the porter. Will open this during the festive season, a nice winter warmer!

06/12/2012 – I was expecting this one to take quite a while to condition but it’s fantastic after only 6 weeks in the bottle. Amazing, in fact. There’s big sweetness and caramel up-front but balanced by a robust hop bitterness. The caramel then morphs into chocolate and coffee. The after-taste is burnt toast with more coffee and burnt toast on the burp. I can’t see myself changing the recipe much with this one. The proportion of chocolate to black malt is spot-on, as Jamil promised.

Although, I might try a dry English yeast as I think it would work well. I might also try using Munich malt (as specified in Jamil’s recipe), instead of the amber malt I used. I wonder what using roasted barley for the black patent would do? A keeper!

05/01/2013 – A “keeper” indeed. At the moment, I can’t even fathom changing this recipe in the slightest way. It’s just perfect. I’m currently sipping a bottle of the bourbon porter (and “sipping” is advisable with a beer like this) and it’s excellent. This is a bottle of the 8ml version. Even in the 6ml version there is a perceptible note of vanilla and bourbon. The 8ml version is sublime – there’s a serious hit of oak coming through from the bourbon and the vanilla is there in spades also. But the roasty porter is still the cominant flavour. If anything, the bourbon only accentuates the chocolate flavour of the beer. After doing the vanilla beer in this fashion, I can’t see the merit in batch aging the porter with the vanilla-infused bourbon. Dosing the bottle is definitely the way to go and I can see myself doing with with future brews. I’ll probably dose a few bottles of the Foreign Extra Stout I plan on doing in the near future. I think the extra alcohol and mouth-feel would work very well with the bourbon. After that, a Russian Imperial Stout!!

16/01/2013 – A fantastic recipe. Only three bottles of this left. Sweet, roasty, carmelly, bitter. Great head that lasts to the bottom of the glass.

03/03/2013 – Happy days! Pork Chop Porter scored 38 in the NHC competition. The beer was scored by Anil Godinho (professional beer taster with Diageo) and Liam Hanlon (formerly head brewer at O’Haras). Anil detected traces of “hexanoate”, whatever the hell that is! Comments from Anil included “great balance of flavour but slightly too much alcohol for style”, but he scored the beer highly on both “Technical Merit” and “Intangibles”. Liam Hanlon noted “Licorice, malt, caramel all there. Slight acetylaldehyde, very slight phenolic”. “Head retention is good, no clarity at all, colour is good”. “All the flavours required are here, but masked and knocked out of balance by the alcohol. There is too much alcohol for this style”. “Too warming, too much alcohol, otherwise this would have been very good”. “This beer may have been entered into the wrong category, tastes like at least 7.5% ABV”.

Bubbles Brews Beer!

homebrewing & craft beer

Bubbles’ Twitter Feed