Polacanthus Porter

IMG_20190829_193848Dark beers! They’re seemingly banished from the summer months, and yet I often have a craving for one even on the hottest days. Not a triple imperial barrel aged chocolate stout, of course–that’s best dumped in the sink during the month of December. I’m thinking of those more drinkable dark beers, a bit lower on the alcohol but still robust on flavor.

An end-of-summer porter seemed like a good way forward. They’re flavorful, but not necessarily gut bombs. They’re relatively easy to brew, and turn around fairly quickly. Also, they’re a “traditional” style that’s just a bit harder to find, overwhelmed by trendier beers on tap lists. If I want a mediocre hazy IPA, I don’t need to make my own; there is no shortage in area breweries!

This recipe is based on the American porter from Gordon Strong’s Modern Homebrew Recipes. My version fairly closely follows that by Strong, with the modifications primarily on the hopping and malt brands. The name recognizes the combination of American and English ingredients, because Polacanthus is a type of armored dinosaur that had relatives on both sides of the Atlantic.

Polacanthus Porter

  • 11 lb. 2-row pale malt (Rahr)
  • 12 oz. 1823 Heritage Crystal Malt (Bairds), 75°
  • 10 oz. chocolate malt (Bairds), 500°
  • 5 oz. roasted barley (Bairds), 600°
  • 0.65 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (~5.5% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (~5.5% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Safale American Ale Yeast (US-05)

Target Parameters

  • 1.058 o.g., 1.014 f.g., 5.8% abv, 36 IBU, 34 SRM
  • 60 minute infusion mash, 154°, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water


  • I mashed in with 4.25 gallons of water at 164.5°, to his a mash temperature of 155°. After 45 minutes, I added 1 gallon of water at 185°, and collected first runnings after a 10 minute rest and vorlauf. I then added 3.5 gallons of water, let rest for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.1 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.048, for 73% efficiency.
  • I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and such per the recipe.
  • After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame, chilled, and transferred to the fermenter (with aeration). I had to let the wort rest in the fermenter for a few hours, to chill down to the fermentation temperature of 66°.
  • I brewed this beer on 13 July 2019. Starting gravity was 1.057.
  • I kegged the beer on 14 August 2019. Final gravity was 1.013, for 5.8% abv. This was exactly on the dot for my targets!


  • Appearance
    • Deep brown, with garnet tones when illuminated from behind; clear; persistent tan head
  • Aroma
    • Roasty, chocolately aroma; very nice.
  • Flavor
    • Roast malt character at the front, with a slight chocolate and coffee tinge; slight citrus aspect; moderately bitter, with a finish that tilts towards the bitter rather than the malty side.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Medium body, medium carbonation; off-dry finish (probably due to the roast character). It could maybe have a touch more body, but I think overall it’s okay on this end. Too much body would make this harder to drink.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! This is a nice and simple recipe, with a pleasant flavor. As porters go, this definitely is towards the roasted and bitter side, but I’m okay with that. This is really drinkable as a summer porter! I would add it to my regular repertoire.
  • Overall
    • 9/10