Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Brewlog: Bachelor Party Porter

During my recent trip to Yreka, in addition to bottling the "Belgian small ale," I also brewed two additional batches. The first of those is recounted below...

Batch #23, 6/8/06: Bachelor Party Porter

My own journey into craft beer appreciation, begun long ago with the purchase of a four-pack of Old Rasputin on my 21st birthday, soon led me to the safe, approachable, and damn-tasty territory of Porter. I quickly became enamored of the ubiquitous Black Butte Porter, and the the obscure (outside of Siskiyou, Shasta, and Humboldt counties) but equally respectable Etna Porter. A lot of my early efforts in homebrewing - begun meer months after my 21st birthday - were attempts to brew a Porter like the commercial examples I so loved. I was moderately successful once with a prominent Black Butte Porter clone recipe. Subsequent deviations from that recipe proved, however, somewhat disasterous - some serious rookie mistakes were made. Eventually, as my interests drifted towards Belgian styles and hop-monsters, my homebrewing followed suit, and for the past two years or so, I've rarely bought a porter, and not once brewed one. Until now...

You see, a friend of mine is getting married this summer. For the bachelor party - which us men-folk are way more excited about than the actual wedding - we will be fishing, spelunking, and enjoying the craft-beer scene around Bend, Oregon. As a practical move, a gesture, and an excuse to brew, I decided to brew a batch specifically for the trip. I asked the soon-to-be groom for a preference, and he said "Porter," so a Porter I brewed.

When formulating the recipe, I went back to the Black Butte Porter clone, and made some more educated tweaks, based on what I wanted to change, and what was available in my brewshop. Foremost, the color on all my previous Porters has been, IMO, too light, so I opted for amber malt extract instead of pale. Also for color, and in the interest of increased roastiness in the flavor, I beefed up the dark adjunct grains for the mini-mash. Hopping decisions were made on a whim - let's hope they turn out well. Anyway, on with the recipe...

  • 7 gallons Yreka tap water, untreated (it has never done me wrong)
  • 9oz chocolate malt
  • 4oz black patent malt
  • 6oz roasted barley
  • 8oz caramel wheat (this was fairly dark stuff - equivalent to 80-100L crystal or so...)
  • 4oz caramunich
  • 8oz 10L crystal
  • 8oz honey malt
  • 7 lbs amber malt extract


  • 1.5oz 12% Erocia (or Eroica - both spellings seem to occur equally) at 60 minutes
  • 1oz 8.8% Amarillo at 30 minutes
  • 1oz 5.5% East Kent Goldings at 5 minutes



"Mini-mash" the grains, steeping just below 150 for at least 30 minutes - this being adjunct-extract brewing, it isn't an exact science, but I think with this one, it's important to be on top of things with the mini-mash, otherwise you just won't get the color and flavor that are so important to a Porter out of those grains...

Add amber malt extract and bring to boil. Commence 90 minute boil (for both caramelization and wort-reduction). Hop according to schedule. At 15 minutes, add two tsp Irish moss. Knock out and cool according to your preferred method. Final wort volume should be just at five gallons if your boil was sufficiently vigorous. Next, aerate, transfer, and pitch yeast. The O.G. on mine was 1.060...


The resulting wort from this session seems to have all the makings of a good porter. The color came through very well - the final beer should even have a tan head. From the honey malt, and perhaps the long boil, there were some interesting sweet flavors going on - I hope the yeast leaves some of that behind - it'd work well in the finished beer. I was worried about the hopping, especially when the Eroica/Erocia - with which I was perviously unfamiliar, and whose smell out of the pouch indicated that it was just another neurtal bittering hop, along the lines of the recommended Galena - started smelling very strongly of mint in the boil. This was also my first time working with Amarillo, but I figured one citrus hop could substitute for another. And what was I thinking finishing with EKG? Minty, to citrus, to floral? Nevertheless, the hopping didn't come across as weird at all in the final wort, especially behind the roastiness, and the bitterness level seemed appropriate for a nice moderate American Porter, along the lines of Black Butte... The London Ale yeast should leave a nice bit of the sugars uneaten, making for a good body and a slight residual sweetness. I'm also hoping for some of that mild fruitiness that works so well in British beers of all types, but is shunned by the Chico/Ballatine strain-loving American brewers.

Whatever the case, there's nothing to do now but wait, and hope to God that this stuff actually turns out alright, considering that I've already promised to share it with 10 people.


At 12:34 PM, Blogger Ben, aka BadBen said...

Nice recipe. It'll turn-out ok.

Happy brewing!


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