Tag Archives: porter

Lesson learnt, a bit too late

On Sunday we had another brew day at my place. Was time to do another Porter and a using some grain for the first time since the Brewsmith kits.

There was bottling of the Australian Amber Ale and tasting of the Australian Pale Ale. Both are a lot darker than ‘amber’ or ‘pale’ and should be renamed ‘dark’ and ‘amber’. The tasting of the Amber was, how should I put this, bad. The idea behind the two brews really wasn’t thought out well enough. I had assumed the sugars in the liquid malt cans would mostly ferment leaving only a slight sweetness. I was very wrong. And I should have realised it when we did the gravity readings. Chas has a review that will be going up, but to summarise… it’s bad. The amber came in at lower gravity than the pale, so that might be worse. I’m not going to even attempt tasting the Amber Ale in two weeks. I think both beers need to condition for a number of months, maybe six or more.

So, with that in mind I’m very glad we did a brew of something that should turn out a fair bit better. Or at least in theory. The brew can’t be classified as a ‘Partial’ because the grains used were crystal. That means no enzymes to convert starch into sugar, aka a mash. This was Steeping of the grains, and therefore this brew should be classified as an extract. Plus a can of amber liquid malt extract was used. There was 500 grams of Crystal (ebc 115-145) used.

Baltic Porter #1

Grains for Baltic Porter #1 steeping in the pot

I wanted to get the most out of the grains so steeping occurred for a full 60 mins at around 80C. I say around 80C as the temperature wasn’t fully controlled the whole time. It dropped down to around 77C and was as high as 86C at one point. Not great. But, in defence it was only steeping and not mashing.

And so the Baltic Porter started.

After steeping there was a sixty minute boil. The can of liquid malt and the liquid from steeped grains were all thrown into the wort. Once the hot break occurred in went 7 grams of Warrior hops.

After 30 mins there were 3 grams of Fuggles added. Then finally another 2 grams five mins before flame out. This was then put in the big 30L fermenter and topped up to the 10L mark. Windsor hops were added and fermenter given a good shake to get more oxygen due to the expected high alcohol.

  • Crystal grain (ebc 115-145) – 500g
  • Black Rock Amber liquid malt extract – 1.7k (cans are now bigger)
  • Warrior Hops – 7g
  • Fuggles – 5g (split 3-2)
  • Danstar Windsor yeast – aprox 5g

The original gravity was calculated at 1.081, but only came in at 1.072. That’s probably a good thing considering what happen to the two Australian Ales recently brewed.

The day had some painful lessons. And they were kept to small batches so there’s not too much pain. If this Baltic Porter turns out bad I think it might be time to return to some kits for a little bit.


PS. Forgot to mention we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout and Gauss’ Law hopped cider. Review for stout is up and review of Gauss’ Law will be coming soon.

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The Friedlieb coffee porter – review

Was meant to put this up a week ago. Then things happened. And now it’s this week.

The Friedlieb coffee porter

The Friedlieb coffee porter in glasses

As part of the massive bottling day, I mean brew day, there were some taste testing.

One was the coffee porter from a few weeks ago. We cracked one open, not smashed it open. Up front there was plenty of malt and coffee aromas. You could tell straight away this was going to be a big and complex beer.

First taste got a big malt hit. Rich flavour all the way through giving this beer a strong base. The coffee was also there for the whole journey, not overpowering or overpowered. Has a nice dry finish thanks to the coffee. Good bitterness from start to end but is a little all over the shop.

Some smoke and even hints of chocolate. Chas wants more smoke and I’m sure he’ll talk about that in the comments below. For me, I was happy with the malt profiles and mix in this.

The beer had a slight sweetness hidden in it. Like the bitterness, it wasn’t consistent. Unlike the bitterness, that was distracting. This would probably settle after another two plus weeks of conditioning.

Like the other other coffee porter, OMG The Coffee, this is suited to a lot of foods. Any big rich dinner would work. A lot of desserts would go well. You can substitute this for wherever you need a big dark earthy red wine.


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Chocolate Paradise Porter (with coffee) – Review

A little while ago, we modified the standard BrewSmith Chocolate Paradise Porter to contain coffee.  For those interested, the original Chocoalte Paradise Porter brew is here, while the review is here.

Overall, the beer turned out great.  We only made twelve bottles, and by the time tasting day came around, there were only three bottles left because Mikey’s wife (AKA Manager for Change Management/Director of Art Direction for this blog) had made her way through the rest of it!  I think she enjoyed it…

Anyway, the original taste prior to bottling was encouraging, although there was a lot of coffee in there, and it was slightly overwhelming.  After the beer was allowed to condition for a few weeks in the bottle, the overpowering flavours calmed down quite a bit.

20130707_153019The coffee was still quite obvious at first, and it really sat in my mouth.  This died down after awhile though and I started to get used to it, which allowed the other flavours to come out.  As the coffee died down, the brown sugar (which was another addition to the recipe) began to come out, but only slightly.  The brown sugar was more of a tease than an actual taste: it never came to the front.

The smoke, which was apparent in the original recipe, added a great twist as well.  It really began to compete with the coffee and add some a great interaction of different flavours.

Unfortunately, all of this tended to mask the chocolate somewhat.  The chocolate was still, but hard to find, and didn’t come out until the beer was allowed to breath for a bit.

In regards to smell, the beer was nowhere near as fragrant as it was with the original recipe.  As I mentioned, the taste before bottling had quite a bit of coffee to it, but the strong coffee smell went away with conditioning; I was really hoping for lots of coffee and peat to it, but it wasn’t there unless you really went looking for it.  There was also a little bit of spice and brown sugar in there to.  Although very subdued, the beer smelled fantastic.  I would have liked the nose to be bigger though.

All in all, this beer was full of great things, and they all complimented each other well.  It was great that there were different layers of flavour, some very obvious, some very subtle.  Sometimes the taste of something would come out of nowhere, and then wouldn’t return on the next sip.  It was a great and surprising beer.

Finally, it was great to see how a few very simple modifications could dramatically change a beer.  The original was good, the modification was better.



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“The Friedlieb” Coffee Porter – first trial

Friedlieb Runge was a German chemist and the first person to isolate caffeine. Because of this, it’s only appropriate to name our ongoing coffee porter experiment after him!

As much as we liked the Brewsmith porter kits we did (we’re still waiting to see how the coffee version turned out), they’re only sold with enough ingredients to make about four litres – so what do we do when we want to make a big batch? Adding to that, they are a bit expensive when compared to sourcing the ingredients directly. Don’t get me wrong on this. The price of the Brewsmith kits is quite fair, but if you’re willing to take the time to try and recreate their recipes, you can save a bit of money. If you’re not willing to take the time to recreate the recipe, then hey, keep buying the kits because they do a great job.

Anyway, as a base, we used a recipe presented by the great Craig of Craigtube. If you haven’t checked this guy out yet, do it! We weren’t able to get all the ingredients here in Australia, plus we didn’t want to use a canned wort with bittering hops in it, so there was some improvising.


Since this was the first attempt, it was only a 4 litre batch.

The recipe and ingredients we went with was as follows:

  • 580 grams light liquid malt extract
  • 90 grams dark dry malt extract
  • 90 grams dark crystal
  • 50 grams chocolate malt
  • 40 grams peated malt
  • 50 grams melanoidin malt
  • 60 grams rye malt
  • 3 grams Willamette hops (bittering)
  • 3 grams Fuggles hops (taste)
  • 3 grams Fuggles hops (aroma)
  • 8 shots expresso
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Windsor style ale yeast

Steep the grains (using a grain bag) in about two litres of water for 20 minutes (on reflection we probably should have done 40…). When this is done, remove the grains and sparge them with a litre of boiling water.

Bring this three litres up to a boil and throw in three grams of Willamette hops for the start of your thirty minute total boiling period. At the 15 minute mark, put in three grams of Fuggles hops. Finally, with five minutes remaining, put in another three grams of Fuggles.

At the end of the thirty minute boil, turn off the heat and put in the eight shots of espresso as well as the brown sugar and give it a good stir. Put a lid on the pot and immerse it in a sink of cold water for twenty minutes, changing the water halfway through.

Throw this all into a five litre carboy, and top up with one litre of water. Try to get the temperature to between about 18 and 26 degrees with this top up.

Pitch the yeast and you’re done!

Other Notes

We got a gravity reading of 1.054, so we’re expecting an alcohol content of somewhere in the mid 4% range after bottle conditioning; I imagine the final gravity will be a little high due to the yeast type as well as the coffee, which isn’t fermentable but adding to the specific gravity.

In relation to hops, I found that the Willamette had bitter and dry smell with a hint of spice. The Fuggles were less bitter, with a more fragrant fruity/floral smell.

While the wort was boiling, the chocolate was quite overpowering when right over the stove, the smokiness came out quite a bit when I stood back. There weren’t any big hops smells, but when tasting the wort, they were definitely there and quite nice.

Overall, this should be a pretty good brew. We’ll see if it’s anything at all like the Brewsmith kit, but it should taste good any how.


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Chocolate Paradise Porter – review

Chocolate Porter #2 tasting

Chocolate Paradise Porter #2 for tasting.


Well, as Mikey mentioned in his last post, we tasted a porter that he brewed a few weeks ago.  We had the drink while bottling an IPA from Brewsmith that we made about two weeks ago, and then followed by making yet ANOTHER Chocolate Paradise Porter.  So, following the first and second rules of home brew, we had to be drinking home brew.  Why not kill two birds and do a tasting at the same time?

I’ll start at the beginning: the taste before bottling.

It’s important to taste your beer before bottling to make sure that there is nothing funky going on.  It lets you know that it’s turned out OK and gives you a general idea of how things will turn out.

However, prior to bottling, the beer has generally been sitting at a fairly warm temperature (optimal for yeast) and is most definitively flat.  So yes, the first taste is a taste of a warm, flat beer.  The beer also hasn’t been given a chance to fully mature, so it’s far from done.

Prior to bottling, the smell was near perfect.  The chocolate really came out and there was a little bit of smokiness to it.  Exactly what a porter should smell like.

The first sip, however, was interesting… it had a sourness to it that although wasn’t bad, wasn’t good.  It didn’t taste like it was off or infected, but the sourness gave us a bit of a worry.  We figured the beer would lose this strange aspect after some time in the bottle.

The first (second and third!) bottle:

The nose didn’t change at all.  There wasn’t anywhere for it to go really.  It was still smokey with a bit of chocolate.

In the first few sips, there was still a hint of sourness to the brew, but it seemed to come from the carbonation.  The carbonation was a bit strange, and it seemed to sit on my tongue a bit.  Obviously carbonation is a good thing, but I don’t want it to be something I’m acutely aware of – especially in a porter.

Fortunately, this weird carbonation thing went away after the beer was allowed to breath for a few minutes.

The chocolate flavours were there, but overall very subtle.  The chocolate came through in the nose much more than in the taste.

What really came out in the taste was the smokiness.  It was great, although dominant. Unfortunately this meant that the any complexities in the beer were taken away somewhat.  This left us with what was still a great porter, but with nothing that stood out except for the smokiness. Please don’t get me wrong, this is far from a bad thing.

I had a few bottles of this, one served at what was probably the optimal porter temperature, one served a little cooler, and one served at temperature too cold for a porter.

Overall I think I liked the coldest one best.  I think that this was because I found the beer surprisingly light and refreshing for a porter.  Beer is always great and refreshing, but there are different styles for different times.  This porter was surprisingly light and quite easy drinking.

So overall, the beer turned out great.  Usually I can spend a little bit more time on a porter, but this one went down far too easily.  It wasn’t complex, but a complex beer can often be harder to drink.

All in all, a great beer, and I’m happy at how it came out.

Now let’s see if Mikey leaves a comment telling me I’m wrong…


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