Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Brewing Historic Porter

Over at Barclay Perkins, Ron has written a bunch times about mid 19th century porter grists. Recently he posted about a particular porter found in the Lovibond Brewery logs. According to W.L. Tizard, a porter consisting of only amber malt and black malt resulted in an exquisite beer. A fan of dark beer and historic beer I had to brew for myself.

This beer presented a couple challenges with regards to malt choice and mashing. Finding Amber malt proved to be harder than I had anticipated. I needed a lightly kilned pale malt that retained most of its Diastatic power. [source] While reading the Dingeman's malt descriptions I noticed that they alternatively call their Aromatic malt "Amber 50" and the description matched the historical description. As an added bonus, Dingeman's Aromatic malt is widely available. I declare it good enough. I hope Ron reads this so he can tell me why that is a stupid declaration.

Without a true base malt I tempered my expected efficiency down to 70% from my usual 75+%. Turned out not to be enough as I ended up at 60%, so I added a half pound of brown sugar to raise the OG to range I was shooting for, 1.05-1.06. For hops, .5 oz Nugget boiled for 60 minutes and another .5 oz Nugget boiled for 10 minutes. Kent Goldings would have been more likely but I like Nuggets, so much for historical accuracy. At least I used Whitbread yeast.

After 20 hours of fermentation, yeast was cropped. The gravity had fallen to 1.042 from 1.051. The taste already attained an excellent balance of big malty flavor and an obvious but not overpowering roastiness. After 6 days the measured gravity holds steady at 1.022 (1.027 real SG, a paltry 47% attenuation and 3.7% ABV) and is ready for bottling. Never mind the terrible attenuation, this tastes great!

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