Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tasting Stale Porter: Pretty Things East India Porter

Oh right, that old porter tasting theme... or any posts at all.

This one comes from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project's Once Upon a Time series. Both the recipe and the liquid in the bottle are getting on at this point. The recipe came from Barclay Perkins circa 1855, by way Ron Pattinson.

A shade darker than 1808 porter. Deep mahogany highlights. Bright coffee notes from the brown malt. The amber malt seems to accentuate both the brown and sweet pale malt. The black malt gives an extra roastiness beyond the brown malt. The bitterness of the hops has mostly faded at this point, only a slight, dusty black tea astringency remains.

I've one bottle left. I want to keep it as long as possible, best to tuck it away in a forgotten box of beers with similar again needs

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tasting Stale Porter: Soured Double Stout

Not what I had in mind when I blended a bit of sour beer into some stout nearly two years ago (Guinness FES is what I had in mind). I didn't consider what would happen when the lactic acid bacteria and super-attenuating Brettanomyces strains took hold in the lush, smoky stout.

All the roast, toast and smoke is still present. With it there is sharp, sour smelling funk. All present in the mouth along with solvent/plastic. The body torn to shreds. Thin, sharp and sour.

If you've had Madrugada Obscura from Jolly Pumpkin (who are usually great), this is like that. That austere sour character is not meant for stouts. Maybe I will try to mix a little bit into fresh porter to see if it gives a bit of complexity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tasting Stale Porter: Stout

Next up is a rather straightforward stout brewed about a year ago. The full recipe was lost to my old laptop. Pale, Amber, Brown and a touch of Black malt made for an old school (late 19th century). It was very nice fresh and this is the last bottle.

How many ways can I say black with tan head. Molasses appearance with fine crema. Smell has espresso, cherry and a touch of vinegar. In the mouth there's lots of coffee. Not diner coffee, a fruity East African roast from Stumptown put through a french press. It also has a nice sweet - sour balance like Guinness FES. A bit thin but still plenty rich. The year has given it an interesting dimension but I wouldn't give it much more time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tasting Stale Porter: 1808 Whitbread with B. Bruxellensis

I've realized that I have several porters and stouts that have been stashed away for some time. I reckon that all that stale (old) porter will make for a nice series of tastings. All but one are homebrew. That lone commercial beer is a special one, Pretty Things Once Upon A Time: December 6, 1855 East India Porter. For that one I've tried to simulate the voyage to India by leaving the bottle in my cabinet at ambient temperature throughout the summer and giving it a regular roll about a ships hold in the mid Atlantic.

First up is my own foray into historical brewing: August 29, 1808 Whitbread Porter. I added Brettanomyces Bruxellensis to some bottles to mimic the secondary fermentation that old style stouts underwent. Original tasting here. I won't bother with pictures, matter of fact it's all dark.

Large tan head even with a careful, slow pour. Over carbonated, no way around admitting that. First hit on the nose is oak and smoke, likely a product of the Brett B as this recipe had neither component. A deeper whiff finds super dark chocolate (like that 85% stuff) and dried figs, maybe yogurty acidity. Hey, there's the smarties and clove from le gout d'Orval! The taste has changed dramatically from the velvety espresso and cocoa from the fresh beer. The bitterness has faded a bit, joined by a soft lactic acidity. The body is thinner than originally, but not the thin, sharp feel that I expected from previous tastings. A little cocoa powder with clove. All around an interesting beer to taste, much better now than the early samples of the Brett B portion. I am, however, glad that I chose B Claussenii for subsequent batches.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tasting: Tmave Lezak

Of the two lagers I brewed back in January the dark one turned out much nicer. It sat quietly until being bottled in May. Then it sat some more down in the basement slowly getting drank through the Spring and Summer. With all that has gone on over the last few months, it's taken a hurricane to sit down and post a review.

Pours a dark brown that shows clear, red highlights when held to the light. Large, tan effervescent head stands tall (started above the rim of that mug and fell to where pictured while I fumbled with cameras) and slowly subsides to a quarter inch persistent cap. Sweet caramel and malt flavor, but ultimately the beer proves dry with a bit of grain husk and nip of Saaz. Maybe a bit of toast. Hardly perfect but nice enough to drink a large glass of. What more can you expect from lagering in a chilly pantry?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tasting: August 29, 1808 Whitbread Porter

Final Gravity: 1.020
Alcohol: 6.4 % ABV

Dark brown as expected with light mocha foam. The odd bit of the appearance is the turbity. The beer is very cloudy even though the Wyeast 1099 certainly flocculated. Smells and tastes like brown malt. Hmm, maybe I should include more detail than that. Aroma is coffee and dark chocolate. Some fruitiness... raisin, fig, and black licorice. The taste is more of the same with a long drying hop bitterness that accentuates the roast from the brown malt.

I added Brettanomyces Bruxellensis to some bottles (most Orval skittles to hopefully avoid bombs). That should be interesting in a few months.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tasting: Bitter

Since I have a single bottle of bitter left I figured I'd write up some tasting notes. Made from the second runnings of the barley wine with a bit of extra amber malt and torrefied wheat thrown into the mash.

Amber with a small, slightly off-white foam. Perfectly bright - no yeast, no chill haze. Aroma is a soft malt and cherries and maybe a hint of Goldings. The right aromas and intensity to invite a big gulp. Sweet bit of toasty malt and enough bitterness for balance. Not a complex beer by any means, but that is the idea. Something light but with a pleasant flavor. Though it's not the best bitter I've ever had (that would be a Timothy Taylor Landlord on cask in London, which at a different pub was also the worst bitter I've ever had) but a competent beer.

Note that I brewed this beer with all the same equipment that I brew, ferment, and bottle sour beers with. There is no Brett and no lactic tang to be found any where.

1843: Hop and Grain Trade in The Economist

If I had more free time I might spend some time looking for new bits of beer history. Sometimes you stumble upon a tidbit and today was one of those days. A friend linked to a copy of The Economist from September 16, 1843. Lets see what they had to say about the barley and hop trade. I also included the comments on the sugar trade even though this came from the period in which such "adulterants" would have been prohibited from beer in Britain.

(From Messrs Gillies and Horne's Circular.)

Corn Exchange, Monday, Sept. 11.—The weather continued most beautiful here until yesterday, when we had some heavy thunder showers, and to-day is gloomy, damp and close. The wind, what little there is of it, is north. The arrivals during last week were moderate except of Foreign Wheat and Barley, of which of course there is yet some quantity to arrive. The new English Wheat coming soft in hand, is slow sale at 1s. to 2s. reduction—free Foreign finds buyers for mixing at last week's currency. Barley is dull sale at last week's rates. Oats are 6d. to 1s. lower. Some new Irish have appeared of fine quality. There is no change in Beans and Peas. Flour is the same as last week.

Corn Exchange, Friday, Sept. 15.—The weather threatened to be stormy yesterday, the barometer fell, and we had some heavy drops of rain, but it has since cleared up, and to-day is 10 degrees warmer and beautifully clear, with the wind south east. In Ireland and Scotland there was a good deal of rain on Sunday and Monday, which (we understand) stopped the harvest work for the time, but we hope by this time they have it fine again. The new English Wheat comes to hand softer and lighter than at first; as usual after being stacked, the yield is much complained of, besides that many of the stacks got so soaked by the heavy rains of the 21st and 23rd of August, that the condition of the Wheat is sadly spoiled. The arrivals are moderate this week, except of Irish Oats, several small parcels of which are of the new crop; there is also a small parcel of new Scotch Barley in fine condition, and new Scotch Oats, also good. Almost all the Wheat has been entered at the 14s. duty; we believe it is over 300,000 qrs. New English Wheat is dull sale: Foreign, on the other hand, is more inquired for, and not to be purchased in any quantity except at 1s. advance. Barley is saleable in retail at Monday's prices. Oats are again 6d. cheaper than on Monday, except for very fine samples. The averages lead us to suppose that on the 21st instant the duty on Foreign Wheat will rise to 16s. per qr.; on Barley it will remain 6s.; on Oats 6s.; on Rye it will rise to 9s. 6d.; on Beans it will remain 10s. 6d.; and on Peas, 9s. 6d.


The average price of brown or Muscovado sugar for the week ending September 12, 1843, is 34s. 134d. per cwt., exclusive of the duties of Customs paid or payable thereon on the importation thereof into Great Britain.


Monday.—There was no business whatever transacted during last week, and even the duty remains without fluctuation. In this state of inactivity the effects of the Metropolitan Total Abstinence movement was a topic of interest to the trade. As it appears that nearly 70,000 persons took the pledge, the consumption of malt liquor must seriously diminished, and the demand for Hops will consequently be very considerably decreased. It is fortunate, therefore, for the planters that this year's growth is not large, otherwise the prices would have been seriously low, and although that crop is not only about an average, yet from this diminished consumption, which is likely to progress, the value of the new will not be more than last year, and possibly even less. There have been a few small lots of 1843's at market, which go off very slowly.

Friday.—About ten pockets of new hops have been disposed of this week at from 7l. to 8l. per cwt. We are now almost daily expecting large supplied from Kent and Sussex, as picking is now going on rapidly. In old hops scarcely any business is doing, while the duty is called 150,000l.

Source: The Economist Vol. 1, No. 3, September 16, 1843 via Project Gutenberg

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tmavý Ležák

Taking a departure from my usual austere Belgians and strong stouts I decided to make use of my chilly pantry (~45 F now in the heart of winter) and brew a couple lagers. First was a světlý which I want to match up to the real thing from the Czech Republic. I neglected to write about it when I brewed a few weeks ago. Basic idea was Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pils put through a triple decoction and a generous dose of Saaz in the boil. Today I brewed the complement, a 12 Plato Tmavý. Compared to last week, today's brew was simple, occupying about half the time.

6.75 lbs Floor Malted Bohemian Pils
1.5 lbs Dark Munich
.75 lbs CaraAroma
.25 lbs Carafa I

2 ounces Saaz (4% AA) 70 minutes
1 ounce Hallertau (2.5% AA) 20 minutes

15 minutes at 104 F.
Pulled ~1/3 and slowly brought to boil with stopover at 150.
Returned at 35 minutes. ~130 F.
Dickmaische 2 at 55 minutes, ~1/3 of mash.
Returned at 80 minutes ~155 plus ~2 qts water to thin out mash.
Lautermaische at 105 minutes.
Boiled and returned at 115 minutes. 162 F. Let stand for 20 minutes.

OG: 1.048
Racked onto yeast from světlý (White Labs 802)

Can't wait to drink this one and raise a pint to Švejk (or whatever standard serving size is in Bohemia).

Friday, January 7, 2011

August 29, 1808 Whitbread Porter

A recipe courtesy of Ron Pattinson at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Whitbread Porter from 1808, about the year that "stout" surpassed "porter" according to the Google Ngram. The most relevant posts are here and here. The ingredients are simple, mostly pale malt, some brown malt and a heap of hops. The mash is mindboggling complicated with 3 gyles making for a long brew day. I tried to stay as true to the details that Ron emailed me. Exact ingredients and process are below. The original stats were OG 1.052.9, FG 1.010.2, ABV 5.64%.

6.75 lbs Maris Otter
3.44 lbs Thomas Fawcett Brown Malt

1 oz 5% Kent Goldings (whole leaf)
3 oz 5% Kent Goldings (pellet)

1st gyle: ~2.25 gallons of 160 F. Mashed 2 hours at 145 F. Ran off 3 gallons and boiled for 1 hour.
2nd gyle: Added ~3 gal 170F water. Mash at 162 for 1.5 hours. Ran of 3 gallons and boiled 1.5 hours.
3rd gyle: Added water at 165. Temp had fallen. Stood 0.5 hours at 158 F. Ran off 4 gallons and boiled for 3 hours.

Hops additions:
1st gyle: 1.5 oz EKG 5% (1 leaf, .5 pellet) at 60 min. 0.5 EKG pellets at 30 min.
2nd gyle: Returned hops from 1st boil plus 1 oz EKG pellets.
3rd gyle: Returned hops plus 1 oz EKG pellets.

Yeast: Wyeast 1099 Whitbread. Pitched at 66 F.

Measured OG: 1.069
Efficiency: 94% (!!!!)

Below there are pictures of a sample of each gyle and all 3 blended together. The samples were taken directly out of the boil kettle so they have a bit of trub floating about. I figured the color would drop off more between gyles. Although this porter is not black like modern porter it still ended up darker than I expected. The mash was a real pain in the ass. Nearly twelve hours to get a regular strength wort. Despite the amazing efficiency, I won't go to all that trouble again.