Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

19 October 2005

Brewing Bitter Porter

Tom and I set to work on beer making again. I took the first batch this time with an extremely hoppy porter. Yeah, yeah, porter was not intended by God to be hoppy, but then again God never roasted malt a little to long, so no chocolate malt, so no porter anyhow! At least none in Heaven.

There is porter in Tom's basement, however, a thick, syrupy, hoppy, foul brew. That would be just to my liking. The recipe goes something like this:
  • 4gal of water in two large steel pots
  • 2lbs of chocolate malt in one pot
This is the type of mixture which got me into so much trouble Last Time. Stir briefly then split a beer into two glasses. The beer is Hennepin by the Masters of Beer at Ommegang, the glassware is weird little Pernod glasses, and the cooler is the sump pump hole. It is best to focus on the baseball game while stirring, since soon hot wort will be splashing you. Now turn your attention to the second pot adding:
  • 2lbs of dark crystal malt
  • 1can (3.3lbs) dark malt syrup
The first half beer goes quite quickly so best to break open the second bottle and pour another half glass. Yum! With both pots rolling along turn down the all grain to a simmer to "steep." This really means two things to me "no splashing of boiling hot wort onto my hands" and "no turning into thick oatmeal like Last Time". With both going it is time to decide what hops to add and when. Here is what we have on hand:
  • 1oz UK Kent Goldings
  • 1oz Tettnanger
  • 4oz At The Well Organic Hops (whole leaf)
I cut open both the Goldings and Tettnanger to smell them. I added the lighter smelling Goldings as the bittering hop:
  • 1oz UK Kent Goldings (crushed with a hammer)
Both baseball and stirring continued for a time until we agreed, after oohing and ahhing, that the thick black wort from the all grain portion was ready for business. We paused and opened a Gritty McDuff's Halloween Ale, which had also been chilling in the hole in the floor. It was stunningly different from the first. The excitement of straining to wort go the better of us and we set to work.

The equipment here is strictly amateur, no fancy wort transfer tubes and the like. The primary fermenter, having been cleaned by Tom earlier, goes on the floor. I grab the metal spoon and a plastic sieve. Tom lifts up the pot and pours slowly into the sieve. I move around the spoon making way for the wort (a fancy beer term for "hot, nasty water") to drain down into the fermenter (a fancy beer term for "bucket"). With the spent grain in one bucket and wort in the other we are overcome with a desire to boil it some more. I think Tom had a good reason at the time. The hopped extract mash and the hot grain wort are blended together with just a pause for a sip of ale, then:
  • 1oz Tettnanger (aroma)
Then we stir while the baseball game concludes with the White Sox winning the ALCS. The beer is finally ready for transferring to the primary fermenter (remember "bucket"). I take about 1oz of At The Well Organic Whole Hops and crush it in my hands by rubbing my palms back and forth with the hops in the center. At the end of this process my hands are covered with a stiff yellow film of sap from the hops, which smells heavenly! Washing my hands twice did not remove the scent, which was still with me the next day.

The lid goes on the fermenter and the airlock goes in the lid and we wait...


At 26 December, 2005 16:30 , Anonymous woodlawn said...

How did it come out?

At 05 January, 2006 17:37 , Blogger Christian Ratliff said...

The porter is aging well. I had one before heading off on vacation and some of the richness of the grain is starting to come through. I am happy with the product even though it is still not the stout I was hoping for.


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