Posts Tagged 'porter'

AG#48 – Wrong Trousers Brown Porter


I decided to do this brew again because I messed up the water adjustment on the last attempt. This time I’m going with completely untreated water. I don’t have enough of the Cafe Malt this time, so I’m going to add some Light Cafe Malt and increase the amount of chocolate malt slightly.

I’m also using a different yeast this time. I find the WLP007 is a little too neutral. I quite like the high attenuation it gives, but it just doesn’t pull its weight in the flavour department. I was pretty impressed with the flavour and aroma I got when I bottled the Preston Bitter a few nights ago, so it seemed a waste to throw that lovely West Yorkshire Ale slurry down the drain. I’m not sure how it will fare in the dark beer like this porter, but Wyeast recommend it for stouts and porters as well bitters and pale ales.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 55.5 EBC
Estimated IBU: 27.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.800 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Crisp (6.5 EBC), 67.4 %
0.500 kg Brown Malt (128.1 EBC), 8.9 %
0.300 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 5.3 %
0.300 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 5.3 %
0.235 kg CHÂTEAU CAFÉ (500.0 EBC), 4.2 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (118.2 EBC), 3.5 %
0.125 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 2.2 %
0.100 kg CHÂTEAU CAFÉ LIGHT® (250.0 EBC), 1.8 %
0.075 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC), 1.3 %
26 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 60.0, 24.2 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
20 g Fuggles [4.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 2.8 IBUs
1.00 Items WLN3200-Servomyces (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.0 pkg West Yorkshire Ale (Wyeast Labs #1469) (400ml yeast cake from Preston Best Bitter)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 5.635 kg
Mash In Add 15.78 l of water at 71.2 C 65.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 18.29l) of 77.0 C water

07/11/2015 – No water treatment this time. Fast runoff. Great smell from the wort.

08/11/2015 – Uneventful brew day, apart from the biblical weather. Parasol up on the deck, making sure the rain and autumn leaves didn’t fall into the boiler. Hit original gravity. I think I got a bit more break material in the fermenter than usual, probably because I wasn’t patient enough letting it settle.

21/11/2015 – This West Yorkshire yeast is an unusual beast. The yeast cake has only just dropped into the beer, after being on top of a warm kitchen counter for the best part of two weeks. I’m not sure if I’m going to reuse the yeast in another beer, as the jury is still out on what it contributes to a beer. I was going to use it in my smoked porter, but I think I’ll go back to my old reliable, WLP002.

05/12/2015 – Bottled with 111g of corn sugar (19 litres at 2.4 vol). Got 12 x 750ml and 18 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

17/12/2015 – Only 12 days in the bottle and already tasting very nice indeed! Lovely coffee and caramel flavours, with just a hint of roast. This will just keep getting better and better.

16/01/2016 – Quite astringent, especially when it warms up. Not surecwhy I gave it such a positive assessment on the last tasting. I’m not even sure if I’ll end up drinking all of the batch.

AG#47 – Pork Chop Porter


Time to brew another old favourite – this beer has a great balance of caramel and roast. The English yeast also gives it an extra something. This time, I’m going to do a bit of oak aging and soak the oak chips in rum and bourbon.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.066 SG
Estimated Color: 74.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 37.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


5.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Muntons (6.5 EBC Grain 1 82.5 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC) Grain 2 6.6 %
0.340 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC) Grain 3 5.0 %
0.225 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC) Grain 4 3.3 %
0.170 kg Amber Malt (43.3 EBC) Grain 5 2.5 %
20 g Magnum [10.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 30.0 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 7 –
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.50 %] – Boil 15.0 Hop 8 5.1 IBUs
21 g Goldings, East Kent [5.70 %] – Boil 1.0 Hop 9 2.8 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007) [35 Yeast 10 –
Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.785 kg

Mash In Add 19.00 l of water at 74.6 C 68.0 C 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 16.22l) of 77.0 C water

23/10/2015 – Mash and boil in one day for a change – I’d forgotten how bloody exhausting it is. A good brew day, but a very slow runoff from the mash. My pre-boil volume was smaller than usual because I didn’t want my gravity to suffer. As it turned out, I got a disappointingly low OG OF 1.060. I don’t know what is going on, I think I might need to decrease my mash efficiency in BeerSmith. Wort smells and looks good. Pitched most of the yeast cake from my brown porter. I took care not to transfer much of the beer over with the yeast, as I was concerned about the chalky flavour in that beer.

25/10/2015 – Fermentation is going well. I have it fermenting pretty cool at the moment, but will warm it up in a couple of days to let it fully attenuate.

07/11/2015 – Made a couple of “tinctures” – 90ml each of vanilla infused bourbon (Jim Beam) and aged dark rum (Havana Club 7 yo) to which I added 6g of pre-steamed American oak chips. Will soak the chips for a few days to extract the flavour.

13/11/2015 – Bottled with 118g corn sugar (18 litres at 2.5 vol). Got 21 x 500ml bottles (7 rum, 7 bourbon, 7 plain) and 9 x 750ml bottles from the batch. Beer was very clear, hope it carbonates.

16/11/2015 – Starting to get a bit nervous about this. There’s no sediment at the bottom of the bottles!! I’ve been shining my camera phone torch into the bottles for the last two days and there’s not a flake in there! Don’t tell me this is going to be another bloody disaster?!

17/11/2015 – Could be alright here.. there’s a tiny bit of sediment at the bottom of all the bottles now. Will keep an eye on it.

19/11/2015 – Out of the woods. There’s a healthy layer building up in there now, even in the “oak-aged” versions.

15/01/2016 – First taste of the regular porter and it tastes pretty decent. A lot of my dark beers seem really astringent at the moment, but this doesn’t seem to have any of that. Quite bitter though. Nice roast flavour but I was expecting a bit more caramel flavour. The WLP007 has ripped through so much of the sugar. Nice hop flavour there too, along with a pleasing mineral character. Alcohol quite prominent, but not hot. The rum barrel version is undrinkable, big overwhelming blast of oak and tannin. Couldn’t finish it.


#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#4 – Pork Chop Porter


The amusingly-named Pork Chop Porter was the first dark beer I ever attempted. How delighted was I when I discovered how good it turned out. It was based on Jamil Zainasheff’s Robust Porter recipe in Brewing Classic styles, albeit with a few minor changes to the grain and hop bill. I used the same bittering to gravity ratio though and the same proportion of roasted malts. It turned out to be fantastically balanced and the level of roast in the beer was spot-on. Pork Chop scored an impressive 38/50 in the 2013 National Homebrew Championship and I want to try the recipe again, making a few changes to get a bit more character into the beer.

Where the beer fell down was the level of alcohol. It was at the very limits of ABV for robust porters, but it actually came out a little over the predicted gravity. The extremely perceptive judges noted this and both felt that it had been entered in the wrong category.  Pretty disappointing to have lost out on a higher score due to such a technicality, but that’s brewing competitions for you. Being able to accurately categorise your beer is all part of the process. This time around, I’ll be using the exact same recipe, but possibly entering it in the “Foreign Extra Stout” category which has a higher limit for ABV than “Robust Porter”. Of course, it all depends on how it tastes when it’s fully-conditioned. This was my downfall the last time, and I’ll be carefully assessing the beer before deciding which category to enter it in in.

I’m going to increase the amounts of black malt and chocolate malt just slightly, but keeping the proportions of these lighter and darker roasted grains the same. I’ll also be adding the small portion of Munich malt to add more depth to the maltiness. The 170g of amber malt in my original recipe will be replaced with 300g brown malt.

In order to replicate the original recipe, I need to adjust the recipe for the ad-hoc changes I made the first time around in BeerSmith, my current brewing software. Punching the original recipe into BeerTools (the online version) gives me a different OG and IBU than I got when I was brewing this beer for the first time. It’s now giving me an OG of 1.063. I can’t figure out why I’m getting the extra two points given that I’m specifying the same malt varieties (though not necessarily the same maltsters). Also, I didn’t record what efficiency I was using at the time, though I’m pretty sure I would have been using the default BeerTools 72%.

I made some last minute additions to the recipe way back then, because I only realised at the last minute that I wouldn’t be able to do the sparge step that I had intended to do. Fearing for my efficiency, I added an extra 300g of base malt and 100g of spraymalt. I’ve put these extra fermentables into BeerTools in an effort to find out what my true  targeted OG should have been. It’s coming out as an OG of 1.068 and an ABV of 6.9%! That’s quite an increase, though according to my notes, my calculated OG was still only 1.065. So I’m not sure how to approach this… I want exactly the same beer though I’m worried that if I just target 1.065, then it won’t have the luscious mouthfeel of the first batch – the “no-sparge” may have contributed significantly to this quality. I’m going to target an OG of 1.068 and hopefully if my efficiency is slightly off, I’ll still be in the same ballpark.

I recorded a mash temperature of 68C which of course I’ll be shooting for again, but this time my excellent mash tun will ensure that I won’t have any heat losses.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.066 SG
Estimated Color: 38.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 59.0 %
1.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 23.6 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 6.6 %
0.340 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM), 5.0 %
0.225 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 3.3 %
0.170 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 2.5 %
24 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 30.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 15.0, 4.9 IBUs
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 1.0, 3.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007), 300ml yeast slurry from Penny Lane Brown Ale

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.785 kg
Mash In           Add 19.00 l of water at 75.9 C          68.0 C        60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.18l) of 77.0 C water


24/11/2013 Brew Day – Mash water was 82.2°C before transfer to mash tun. 77.5°C after transfer. Did some stirring and settled on a strike temperature of 75.8°C. Mash temperature was 68°C, bang on target. Temperauture at the end of the mash was 67.2°C. Heated sparge water to 88°C but the temperature of the grain bed had dropped to 73.4°C after transfer to MT!!

Took a pre-boil gravity reading and got brain got mixed up; I thought I was reading the original gravity and was disappointed to see 1.056. Delighted when I realised my mistake and even more delighted when I checked my notes in BeerSmith and discovered that the pre-boil gravity was perfect.

However, I got 25 litres for my pre-boil volume, not the ~25.5 litres I expected. My measure original gravity was a point or two lower than expected as a result of the higher finishing volume.

I forgot to take a post-boil volume reading, but I got a lot more into the fermenter than expected: 20 litres instead of 19. I think I need to pay closer attention to the sparge water temperature and to slightly reduce (in BeerSmith) my values for “boil-off” and “losses to trub”. Then my system might be more predictable than it currently is.

Still, a very successful brew day havnig almost hit my numbers. I pitched about 350ml of WLP007 yeast slurry and there were visibile signs of fermentation a couple of hours later. This time I took the precaution of using a 33 litre fermenter as I feared a volcanic fermentation, it being a dark, high-gravity beer.

25/11/2013 – Airlocks are hugely entertaining! Lots of blip-blip-blipping going on! I’d filled the airlock with StarSan and some of it has spilled out of the airlock because the fermentation is so vigorous. I’d say there’s at least 3 bubbles per second.

26/11/2013 – Still big bubbling going on, but the kreusen is only a finger high. Not as volcanic as I’d feared. Could be a feature of the WLP007 yeats I’m using.

26/11/2013 – Evening time. Kreusen has fallen – this WLP007 is a beast!! Either that, or the fermentation has gone horribly wrong. Still plenty of action in the airlock and lots of small bubbles coming through the surface of the beer. I’ll do a gravity and temperature reading tomorrow I think.

11/12/2013 – Bottled with 130g dextrose. Got 35 bottles from the batch though I expected to get more than this. Calculated my priming sugar at 19 litres at 2.5 vol = 130g. FG was a little bit higher than expected at 1.016, but it tastes great. A lot of sweetness but plenty of bitterness and roasty flavour to balance it.

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”.

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