October 2011 Group Brew – Traditional Porter

The PALE ALES are planning to hold a group brew event in October 2011 where all members would brew a traditional English porter. Several members have invested a lot of time and energy into this, and we are hoping that you will find this as exciting as we do! If you have a minute, please read over the information below and respond to this post to let us know if you are interested. Also, if you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please post those as well. Unfortunately, you’ll have to register an account on this site first, it’s the only way we can effectively keep out spammers. Thanks!

A traditional porter varies in several ways from the modern porter described in the BJCP guidelines. As Clay Spence discussed at the Saison meeting, the main difference is that “brown malts” were used as the base malt. These malts were kilned more than pale malts. Because of the extra kilning, they do not yield as much fermentable sugar. So, Clay’s test batch (85% brown malt, 15% six-row) which some of us tasted at the Saison meeting had an original gravity of ~1.070, and a final gravity of ~1.040. The taste was very full bodied – even a bit like a milkshake. But, obviously it was not very high in alcohol. Al from East Coast Yeast did a batch also, and his came out a bit higher ABV. Ryan Hansen is experimenting with using brettanomyces bacteria to help the yeast convert more of the sugars.

To participate in the October 2011 group brew, members will choose from one of two options. The first option which we encourage everyone to try out is to malting the grains yourself! Several members, including Joe Bair, Marc Leckington, and Ryan have been experimenting with this and will provide instructions for how to malt-your-own! There are 5 steps: steeping, germinating, drying, kilning, and mellowing. The entire process takes approximately 24 days, so it is not for the weak and lazy among us. For those people (like myself), the second option is to order a mix of modern malts that approximates the traditional recipe. To find out more information about the malting process, check out the Princeton Homebrew Facebook page.

Another difference between this group brew and the recent Big Brew is that it won’t be a single event where everyone meets up together. Instead, there would be “satellite” brews where several members in a given area meet up at someone’s house and brew together. This is a great chance to expand your brewing skills and try something new!

POLL (respond by commenting on this post)

1. I am interested in the malt-your-own traditional porter recipe.
2. I am interested in the modern malt recipe.
3. I am not interested in or able to participate this time.

9 thoughts on “October 2011 Group Brew – Traditional Porter”

  1. I will be glad to offer my place as a satellite brewing place for anyone in the area. I also will let group brewers use my fresnel lens to solar toast any grains you may want to add (call first and bring sunglasses on a sunny day) According to the few who have used the darker base malts (brown), there are problems both in the mash (rice hulls are the answer) and some clogging in the chiller that will need to be addressed. Thanx’s to Ben for making the PALE ALE website great again!

  2. option 1 or 2 for me.

    as mentioned above, i have brewed a test batch brown porter based on the ‘1776 porter’ from mosher’s radical brewing. the grist was 30% 6-row, 30% amber malt, 30% brown malt, 10% assorted specialty malts (5 in total). i used rice hulls so the mash was free-flowing and lautering was not difficult. my plate chiller did get clogged after the boil, which i found out were pieces of brown or amber malts (when milled, they explode similar to roasted/charred malts). so more recirculation would be my biggest change as it a bit more difficult to determine when the runnings have cleared sufficiently as the wort was quite dark. right now i have primary fermentation going along just fine with white labs essex ale yeast. 5 gallons of the porter will be left alone, and the other 5 gallons will get a brett treatment in secondary to ‘stale’ the beer.

    for people in my area (piscataway) or not, my place will be available for the group brew as well.

  3. POLL: 2. I am interested in the modern malt recipe.

    Ryan I am down for brewing at your place! I am excited in general to try to brew a traditional porter because modern porters are not my favorite style. Also I am really interested in the historical and cultural aspects… I’ll have to read that section of Mosher’s book, I never got through it.

    I’ve also just been reading a book about the history of bananas and apparently in Africa there is a beer called “tonto” that is brewed using bananas (or plantains, or the banana “corm”) – maybe this is a project for next summer 🙂

  4. I’m in for option 2. This sounds like a great experiment. Can’t wait to participate. I’m up for all the Trenton area brewers getting together at one of our houses or at Joe’s store.

  5. By the way, have we settled on a recipe? Ryan went with the 1/3 each brown-amber-pale recipe (pretty much). Are we doing that or nearly all brown malt with some six-row? I’ve made both. The results are good either way, but they’re different.

  6. Hi Clay, As far as the recipe goes, there are options. As you know what Ryan made in his 10 gal. recipe, which was the test batch for this group brew, so divide by 5:
    9 lbs. TF Brown malt
    9 lbs. TF Amber malt
    9 lbs. Briess 6-row
    1.5 lbs. Weyermann CaraAroma
    1.5 lbs. Briess CaraBrown
    0.25 lbs. Franco-Belges Kiln Coffee Malt
    0.25 lbs. TF Pale Chocolate Malt
    0.25 lbs. Solar kilned malt (courtesy of Joe @ Princeton Homebrew)*
    3 lbs. rice hulls (i know this is overkill in hindsight, but a stuck mash is never never NEVER fun)
    8 oz. East Kent Goldings, 4.5%AA, pellets

    You mentioned you wanted to malt your own grains. So you would need to soak, rest, germinate, dry, cure all the grains together. Then you would need to kiln the grains separately or together to what you think would approximate the historic version. It does require you to re-soak the grains before kilning. Be sure to take good beer brewing grains to the store to compare before you buy the unmalted.

  7. i’m also curious about the malting as well. from the looks of the article you linked clay, it looks like my basement might be the best spot i have for it. though i don’t know if i want to use pans like joe or really ‘floor’ it (guess i need to clear some floor space in the basement). i think if i do any malting it will be to make some brown or amber malts

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