Saturday, August 16, 2008

Homebrew Porter

Yeah, I know. Whats a brewing recipe doing on a site about longbows? Well I could make up something plausible-sounding about years of the SCA inexticably linking beer and archery in my brain, but the truth is I just didn't feel like starting yet another blog, and I wanted to have somewhere to put brewing recipes where they wouldn't get lost. (Like my late lamented Little Black Brewing Book did. *sigh*)

The beer cellar in the new house - room for lots more!

Homebrewing in the US - or at least in Flagstaff AZ - is much less common than it is in Oz, and it seems to work a little differently. Instead of the insert-water-and-wait idiot-proof kits that you can get in any supermarket, they're much more about custom-tailoring the wort as you boil it on the stove. Even the kits seem to come with bags of grain and multiple sets of hops to be added at various pre-set times. (You can get the simpler kits, but even at the brewshop they don't seem to get much mileage.) This is actually kind of handy, because this was the stage of brewing I'd moved on to anyways; I'm not starting from scratch, and I've got a recipe, but I'm still building all the component parts, which lets me tweak things a bit. Also, I've got myself a kegging system here, because I found a used one going cheap, and I hate washing bottles. So without further adieu, allow me to present ny first Mountain View Brew (our new house is on Mtn View Ave):

The keg system - no more bottle washing! Hurrah!

Using a Brewer's Best Robust Porter kit and recipe, but I'll spell it out in case I want to do variations on a theme at some later date.

2 gallons water in the pot with
8oz. Crushed Crystal Malt 60L
4oz. Crushed Chocolate Malt
4oz. Crushed Black Patent Malt

in a mesh bag. Heated to 170 F and steeped 20 minutes. Drained without squeezing. Brought to boil. Added:

6.6 lbs. Plain Amber Malt Extract

Returned to boil stirring. Added:

1oz. Cluster Hops

kept at a rapid boil for 55 minutes. Added:

1/2oz. Willamette Hops

kept at a rapid boil for 5 minutes. Rapidly cooled (in an ice bath) to 70 F while stirring to collect trub. Siphoned into 6.5 gallon fermenter. Added room temp water to 5 gallons. Pitched 1 packet of Beer Yeast (forgot to note the type.) Initial temperature 70 F, specific gravity 1.050. Yeast activity largely stopped after 5 days, SG steady at 1.020. Siphoned into a sterile 5g keg after 7 days. Attempted to prime for 1 week with 5oz. Priming Sugar, but got very little carbonation. Gassed with CO2 for an additional week at ~ 36-38F (in the beer fridge) and 12 psi.


"Robust Porter" - July 2008 (the first glass, so its a little sedimenty)

The resulting beer isn't quite what I'd call a porter, but it is nice. Its hoppier than a porter - but I like hops, so I'm not really complaining - and doesn't have quite as much body as I'd expect. A dark opaque amber colour, with a fair bit of bitterness. Its also very lightly carbonated - sort of English style. You have to pour it from 6in above the glass to get any kind of a head at all (but it is a proper head - not just bubbles - and it does hold onto it reasonably well.) I'm wondering if the low carbonation has anything to do with the altitude, but then I got the carbonation table from the brew shop here in town, so you'd think they'd have mentioned if it doesn't work here. Whatever. Not a big fan of fizzy beers, but I think I will turn it up a notch for the next batch

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