Olde Persica Porter

I’m getting that itch again, to brew with new styles and new ingredients. With winter on the horizon, I want to stock up on some beers that will serve well on a chilly night next to the fire. I also recently realized I haven’t brewed with smoked malt before. So, a smoked porter seemed like just the thing to try.

In assembling the recipe, I drew heavily upon an Alaskan Smoked Porter clone from the American Homebrewers Association website. This was augmented with a Smoked Robust Porter recipe, also from AHA. Because I wanted this to be a fairly rich base porter that would stand up to the smoke, I elected to go with Vienna malt for the majority of the grist. Conveniently, I also have a decent bit still in stock. To add an American emphasis, I’m going to use whole Cascade hops from South Dakota as the bittering hops, with a charge of Willamette at the very end.

Once I got to the homebrew shop, I discovered that they had several different kinds of smoked malt in stock. I had been planning on using a beechwood-smoked rauch malt, but the owners suggested trying a peachwood-smoked malt instead. I was intrigued!

The malt itself is from Copper Fox Distillery, a Virginia-based operation that specializes in small-batch whiskeys and such. They have also started a brew malt operation, with a handful of products. Because the maltster is so new and so small, it is very difficult to find any specific information on the malts. Their website didn’t have any real information, but Southern Hills Homebrew Supply did. I also learned a bit in chatting with a local person who is helping to distribute Copper Fox malts in California. The bottom line is that this is a floor malted, smoked 2-row barley malt. The aroma and flavor profile are supposed to be a bit gentler than in traditional beechwood-smoked malt. Based on what I tasted and smelled during the brew, this very much seems to be the case. The aroma is delightfully aromatic and smoky, but the flavor in the wort is not at all overpowering.

As for the name of this recipe? Well, because I am using peach wood malt, I wanted to honor peaches. The scientific name for a peach is Prunus persica, reflecting its close kinship with plums (and thus prunes) as well as the fact that domesticated peaches entered Europe via Persia. However, peaches themselves have a deeper origin in China; the oldest fossil peaches clock in at around 2.6 million years old. As a frame of reference, our genus Homo was just getting started around that time, and the modern Homo sapiens was still 2.4 million years away!

Olde Persica Porter, just into the primary fermenter

Olde Persica Porter, just into the primary fermenter

Olde Persica Porter

  • 7 lbs. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 lbs. peach wood smoked 2-row malt (Copper Fox Distillery)
  • 1 lb. 80° crystal malt
  • 1 lb. 40° crystal malt
  • 0.5 lb. black (patent) malt
  • 0.5 lb. chocolate malt
  • 2 oz. Cascade whole hops (5.1% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Willamette hop pellet (4.1% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Willamette hop pellet (4.1% alpha), 1 minute boil and 5 minute steep after flame-out
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 0.25 yeast nutrient, 10 minute boil
  • White Labs California Ale yeast (WLP001)

Target Parameters

  • 1.065 o.g., 1.017 f.g., 6.3% abv, 37 IBU, 36 SRM, 5.5 gallons into the fermenter

Procedure

  • Five days before brewing, I made a 2L starter. After two days, I split the starter (to create a yeast culture with 100 billion cells for later), and cold crashed the remainder in the flask for pitching on brew day.
  • I mashed in with 4.3 gallons of water at 166.7°, to hit a mash temperature of 154.5°. After 60 minutes, the mash was down to 151°. At this point, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 165°, to raise the mash to 152°.
  • I let the mash rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 3.5 gallons of water at 175°, let everything sit for 10 minutes, and then collected the second runnings.
  • Altogether, I collected 6.75 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.054, for a mash efficiency of 77%.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, and added hops and other stuff per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled the wort to 80°. Our groundwater is still too warm to get much below that!
  • Starting gravity is 1.060. This is a bit below my target (1.065), most likely because I didn’t have the boil as vigorous as it usually is. I pitched the yeast, and will be fermenting at 68°.
  • This beer was brewed on 22 October 2016, with vigorous fermentation underway within 24 hours.
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