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

Brew Updates: Palaeotis Pils 1.2 & Old Pine Pale Ale

I’ve kegged two of my brews in the past week, incluing my German pils and my American pale ale. Here are the details!

  • After 10 days in primary, I kegged Old Pine Pale Ale on 12 December 2017. I added the dry hops at this point, in a bag. Depending on how it works out, I may or may not remove the hops. I force carbonated the keg, and had it on tap by 16 December. The brew is pretty hazy at this point, and should clear up with time. Final gravity was 1.012, down from 1.052, working out to 5.2% abv.
  • My latest iteration of Palaeotis Pils started fermentation on 20 November 2017. It fermented at 50° until 27 November, when I raised the temperature to 54°. I raised the temperature to 66° on 2 December 2017, and cold crashed it on 10 December 2017. I kegged the beer on 16 December 2017. Final gravity was 1.010; with a starting gravity of 1.049, we’re clocking in at 5.1% abv. There is a touch of haze, which I’m going to settle out with time and cold.

Palaeotis Pils 1.2

I really, really like a good German pils, and have iterated through two batches previously. Based on what I learned there, I refined the recipe a bit more. I opted for Magnum hops for bittering, Barke pilsner malt (courtesy of a free bag from Weyermann at Homebrew Con), and a return to decoction mashing.

Palaeotis Pils 1.2

  • 8.5 lbs. Barke pilsner malt (Weyermann)
  • 0.6 lb. acidulated malt (Bestmalz)
  • 0.6 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 tsp. Fermax, 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer Mittelfrueh hop pellets (4.1% alpha), 5 minute boil
  • 2 pkg. Saflager lager yeast (W34/70)

Target Parameters

  • Double decoction mash, infusion to hit 45 minute rest at 151°, thick decoction to raise temperature to 158°, 10 minute rest, thin decoction to mash out at 168°. Batch sparge.
  • Water built from R.O., to hit 59.1 ppm Ca, 8.2 ppm Mg, 89 ppm SO4, and 62.9 ppm Cl.
  • 1.046 s.g., 1.008 f.g., 34 IBU, 3.4 SRM, 5.0% abv


  • I started with RO water for both the mash and sparge. For the mash water, I added 1.65 g gypsum, 1.35 g epsom salt, and 2.1 g CaCl to 4.75 gallons of RO water. For the sparge water, I added the same masses of the salts to 3.8 gallons of RO water.
  • I mashed in with 4.75 gallons of water at 158°, to hit a 151° mash rest.
  • After 45 minutes, I pulled 2 gallons of thick decoction, raised to 160° for 10 minutes, boiled for 10 minutes, and then added it back to the mash. This raised the mash to 158°.
  • After another 10 minutes, I pulled a 1 gallon thin decoction (basically, the first runnings), boiled this for 10 minutes, and added back to the mash tun. After another 10 minutes of settling, I pulled off the first runnings.
  • Next, I added 3.8 gallons of sparge water at 185°, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then drained the mash tun.
  • In total, I collected 6.7 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044–this is 88% efficiency! I added 0.5 gallons of RO water to bring the gravity down to 1.041.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the hops and other additions per the schedule. After the boil was complete, I chilled to 80° with my immersion chiller, and then chilled down to 48° overnight in my fermentation chamber.
  • I brewed the beer on 19 November 2017, and pitched the yeast on 20 November 2017. Fermentation was started at 50°, and raised to 54° on 27 November 2017. Finally, I raised the temperature to 66° on 2 December 2017.
  • In a week or so, I plan to cold crash and then keg the beer.

Beer Tasting: Palaeotis Pils 1.1

This batch was all gone last week; luckily, I got my tasting in before it was all gone.

20170702_143220Palaeotis Pils 1.1

  • The Basics
    • O.G. = 1.048; f.g. = 1.011; 4.7% abv; 4 SRM; 34 estimated IBU
  • Appearance
    • Light gold and crystal clear, with a thick white head on the pour that settles to a persistent blanket as I drink the beer. In the image, the condensation on the outside of the glass doesn’t do the beer’s appearance justice!
  • Aroma
    • Light and bready maltiness predominates, with a hint of slightly spicy hops behind that.
  • Flavor
    • Bready maltiness, with a restrained bitterness that builds as I drink the beer. Bitterness is persistent; it is maybe a touch harsh, and I wonder if that is because I used Warrior as the bittering addition?
  • Mouthfeel
    • Moderate body with a slightly dry finish. Carbonation is moderate–as it is pouring at the moment, with a fair bit of foam, I think I am losing some of the carbonation. This will hopefully settle down as the keg matures, as happened with my last keg of this style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is decent, but I think I prefer my previous iteration of the recipe. The aroma on that one seemed a little more pronounced–both on the hops and malt side–and I feel like the flavor was just a notch better. I wonder if that was due to the decoction on the first batch? I will probably return to Magnum hops for the bittering addition in the next version of this pilsner; the Warrior hops have an ever so slight harsh edge that is out of place for a delicate pilsner. I’m also going to use a German pilsner malt–I have 10 pounds of Barke Pilsner Malt that might be perfect for this task. The malt character came up as a critique in a recent competition, so I think that’s a fairly easy fix. I’ll also return to WLP830 for the yeast.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Beer Update: Palaeotis Pils & Gondwana Pale Ale

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.5

I kegged the latest iteration of my Gondwana Pale Ale on 7 June 2017, adding two ounces of dry hops in a baggie at that time. Final gravity was 1.012, down from 1.053, for 5.4% abv.

Initial tastings show that this should be a pretty decent beer. It has a bit to mature yet, in that the yeast haven’t totally settled out and that seems to impart a harshness to the bitterness. I expect this should be much improved by the time I get back from Homebrew Con.

20170611_131001Palaeotis Pils 1.1

After brewing this beer on 20 May 2017, I started it at 50° and then let it ferment at 54° after a few days. I raised the temperature to 64° on 1 June, and then cold-crashed to 33° on 7 June 2017.

I kegged this beer today (11 June 2017). It has a final gravity of 1.011, down from 1.048, for 4.7% abv. At the time of kegging, I also added 1 tsp. of gelatin dissolved in 3/4 cup of water and heated to 152°, as a fining agent.

This beer tastes and smells amazing–I anticipate that it’s going to be a fine brew once it is clear and carbonated! Everything is on-point, and it’s a nice change after the disappointment on my Bohemian pilsner.