Because I purchased a 55 pound sack of Maris Otter a few months ago, I have been on a bit of an English ale kick. Next stop: porters! I don’t brew this style nearly often enough, especially in its English incarnation. The particular recipe here was modified from the London Porter in Gordon Strong’s Modern Homebrew Recipes. I adjusted the base recipe slightly for the malt brands I had on-hand, and reduced the amount of brown malt slightly to account for my in-house supply. At the end of 2020, I found a bunch of 1 lb. bags of Warminster malts on sale, so loaded up on those for this recipe. I hadn’t used that brand before, and thought a good English malt would be a match for this one.
- 8 lb. Maris Otter ale malt (Crisp)
- 1 lb. brown malt (Warminster)
- 1 lb. Crystal 60 malt (Warminster)
- 0.75 lb. Munich Light malt (Chateau)
- 10 oz. chocolate malt (Dingemans)
- 6 oz. Crystal 80 malt (Warminster)
- 1 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (4.7% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (EKG) hop pellets (5.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
- 1 pkg. London ESB English Style Ale Yeast (Lallemand)
- 1.051 s.g., 1.013 f.g., 5.0% abv, 23 IBU, 27 SRM
- Full volume infusion mash, 153°; 60 minute boil
- Claremont water, with 2 g of gypsum to get water profile with 96 Ca, 64 SO4; added Campden tablet to remove chloramines.
- I mashed in with 7.5 gallons of water at 160°, to achieve a mash temperature of 153°. After 60 minutes, I raised the heat to 168° and held it there for 15 minutes before removing the grains.
- In total, I got 6.45 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.043, for 65% mash efficiency. I had used the small-batch adapter ring for my Foundry, because some have anecdotally said it made a difference. I didn’t notice any change, at least for this batch.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, adding finings and such per the recipe.
- After a 60 minute boil, I chilled and transferred to the fermenter.
- Starting gravity was 1.050, with 5.5 gallons transferred into the fermenter.
- I brewed this beer on 8 January 2021.
- I fermented at 66° for the first two days, which was ambient in the garage. The temperature dropped a bit on the third day, so I moved it inside to ~65° on 10 January 2021.
- I kegged the beer on 24 January 2021, after 16 days of fermentation. Gravity at this point was 1.025, way higher than I expected. I suspect the yeast had crashed out a bit early. I added 3 oz. of corn sugar boiled in 1 cup of water, for carbonation.
- It seems that the beer kicked off fermentation in the keg again, because gravity measured 1.020 on 4 February, when I checked it again. That works out to 4.0% abv.
- The beer pours with a thick tan head that subsides moderately quickly, with good retention. The beer itself is dark brown, with a fair bit of yeast haze. I’m pretty disappointed with the lack of clarity…I suspect this is due in part to the ESB yeast (which has given me issues previously), and a potentially stalled fermentation that kept things in suspension longer than usual.
- There is a roasty toasty malt character at the forefront–really nice. The hop character is slightly earthy, with a low level of dried stone fruit (?cherry) in the yeast character.
- The beer has a roasty, slightly nutty flavor, with a medium-high level of maltiness. The balance is tilted towards the malt, with a medium-low bitterness on the back end. The beer brings out a bit of a caramel character along with an interesting dried stone fruit character as it warms up in the glass. There is a very slight sweetness, as well as a subtle licorice character.
- Medium-full body, with medium-low carbonation.
- Would I Brew This Again?
- This is a good enough beer, but not fully to my tastes. The malt and hop character are pretty great (I would use Warminster malts again for any English beer!), but the yeast was a complete disappointment. I am fairly shocked that it was still in suspension nearly 6 weeks after kegging and conditioning in the keg. I probably should have used a bit of gelatin earlier in the process; but that’s just not typical for my dark beers! I might make this recipe again, but would probably stick with Nottingham or something that clears up a bit more quickly.
- 6/10 (main deductions for clarity)