16 November 2008

English-style Porter

For my second homebrewing effort, I did two things differently: I created my own recipe and made a smaller batch.

Actually, the recipe was hardly original. I mostly just started with John Palmer's porter and switched to English hops. It seems like a lot of homebrewers like trying to make something that's never been done before. I'm not interested in that yet, but the experience of looking through existing recipes definitely helps in learning about beer styles.

As far as the small batch is concerned, I know, it's just as much work making three gallons as five. However, I want to get a few batches under my belt quickly, and I don't want to forgo frequent visits to my local beer retailer. I used the beer recipator to check my recipe and ordered from Austin Homebrew, which lets you select small amounts.

3 gallons:
3.5 pounds of extra pale DME LME
6 oz. each of chocolate malt and Crystal 60L
1/2 oz. 6.5% Challenger hops (60)
1/4 oz. 4.5% East Kent Goldings (30)
1/4 oz. 4.5% East Kent Goldings (15)
Safale 04 dry yeast (about two-thirds of the package)
Irish Moss
2 1/4 oz. corn sugar for priming

Despite the small batch, I still used a partial boil and about a gallon of top-off water to replace boiled of liquid. I also boiled the wort for 75 minutes. Whether the extra 15 made a difference, I can't say.

In general the process went smoothly, although I did have a problem with measurements. My instant read thermometer zapped out mid-session. I used an old candy thermometer for part of the process, but it doesn't go below 140 degrees, so I ended up using a Polter probe thermometer to check the wort before pitching yeast.

I also struggled with my hydrometer. I measured an OG of about 1.065, which had to be wrong. I suspect the wort wasn't mixed enough at the time. Based on the recipe, the OG was 1.047 and the IBUs were around 25. I ended up with an FG of 1.018, which I hope was wrong but probably was right. Poor attenuation again. Inadequate aeration? Maybe, but not for lack of trying. I can't blame the yeast this time. I've read that extract brewing often results in high FGs, so maybe that's at least part of it.

Bottling day was a mess, and I already went out and bought an auto-siphon (no kegging equipment yet though). I lost a good bit of beer during bottling as well, which hurt more given the small batch.

It's now been nearly two months since brewing and five weeks since bottling. The beer is pretty good. No off flavors like my first batch. It has a nice light roastiness to it, but isn't a really rich porter. Compared with my first batch, this one has more carbonation than I'd like and doesn't keep as good a head. Palmer says the latter is a downside to using Irish moss for extract beers, and I'll confess that I forgot to adjust my quantity down to account for the smaller batch. (That stuff smells like Poseidon's armpit too.)

I actually just brewed my third batch yesterday (this is the advantage of smaller batches), but I'm a way's away from drinking it.

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