Make Your Best, cont’d

Amer­i­can (Ro­bust) Porter

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - The Mash -

One of my fa­vorite styles to re­visit is the ro­bust porter (some­times called Amer­i­can porter) be­cause it can show­case al­most any set of fla­vors you want. Brew one up now, and it’ll be per­fect for your winter so­cial events!

Style: Porter is one of the old­est styles, re­fer­ring to dark ales made with brown malt orig­i­nally in Lon­don and around Eng­land. It is a beer that should fea­ture a rich char­ac­ter from its grist, a bite from black patent malt, sig­nif­i­cant bit­ter­ing and fla­vor hops, and a touch of al­co­hol warmth.

In­gre­di­ents: Start with the base malts: Maris Ot­ter and Mu­nich—you want about 50 grav­ity points from them. Then add equal amounts of medium crys­tal malt and pale choco­late malt and about half that amount of black patent malt. If you want to re­ally ramp up the rich­ness, you might also con­sider a lit­tle me­lanoidin malt, but to my palate it comes across as slightly oily. I also rec­om­mend adding flaked bar­ley to pro­mote head re­ten­tion and a creamy mouth­feel.

You want an ag­gres­sive hop­ping reg­i­men that’s fairly evenly bal­anced across the bit­ter­ing, fla­vor, and aroma ad­di­tions. I like a tri-blend of East Kent Gold­ings, Styr­ian Gold­ings, and Fug­gles added in equal parts in three ad­di­tions, with a small amount re­served for dry hop­ping. This should give you plenty of bit­ter­ness and an earthy, spicy hops char­ac­ter that meshes per­fectly with the rich-but-sharp malt fla­vors.

For yeast, use Wyeast 1318 (Lon­don Ale III) for its great fruity es­ters (when fer­mented at the right tem­per­a­ture).

If you’re work­ing with slightly hard water, you might also con­sider ¼ tsp of bak­ing soda to round off the dark malt fla­vors.

Process: Mash at your cen­ter-line, ev­ery­day tem­per­a­ture be­cause we’re not shoot­ing for a par­tic­u­larly fer­mentable (or un­fer­mentable) wort. Let the crys­tal and flaked bar­ley do their job, and you shouldn’t have any body is­sues. For fer­men­ta­tion, treat this as you would any ale. Start cool to in­hibit di­acetyl pro­duc­tion and pre­vent the pro­duc­tion of fusel al­co­hols. Af­ter 72 hours or so, let the tem­per­a­ture rise by a few de­grees and hold it there for the rest of fer­men­ta­tion. Use the re­served hops for a very, very light dry hop­ping af­ter about a week in the fer­men­tor. This adds to the nose by bright­en­ing the ex­ist­ing hops fla­vors and aroma, but it also adds a touch of fresh, resiny, grassy hops aroma. Three days of con­tact time should suf­fice. You should be ready to go within 10 days, and then you can pack­age and car­bon­ate. This beer needs a bit of car­bon­a­tion to fill it out and cut down on any per­cep­tions of ex­cess sweet­ness so aim for a hair un­der two vol­umes of CO2. This Lon­don ale brewed with English and Ger­man in­gre­di­ents with an Amer­i­can-sized level of hop­ping serves as a great base for winter spe­cialty or spiced beers—re­move the aroma hops and re­place with your spe­cialty in­gre­di­ent(s) as de­sired.

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