Today, it was time to begin my next ale, this time a porter. How To Brew has an example recipe for a porter, and provides alternatives for all-extract, partial extract and all-grain brewing methods. I went with the all-grain approach, but modified it slightly. So far, so good!
So the recipe called for 8.5 pounds of pale ale malt, 0.5 pounds each of chocolate malt and crystal (60L) malt, and 0.25 pounds of black patent malt. I added to this a half pound of oatmeal – which I have tasted in porter and liked. Everything I have read on the subject suggests there isn’t much of an effect on flavor, but rather an increased smoothness. That’s what I’m looking for!
I added the grains to two bags in the cooler for lautering. I heated 5G of water to 168° F, and then slowly added that to the cooler. End result was right on where I wanted it, 156° F. And then I let this sit for the hour rest. I sparged with 165° F water after the hour – and had no problems.
If you recall my last attempt, with a brown ale, you’ll remember that the lauter tun and sparging were a disaster. In order to overcome this I spent a disastrous hour in the hardware store looking for parts to combine in some freakish manner in order to keep from having a loose tube spill wort. In the end, a run of 1/2 inch (outer diameter) plastic tubing was a perfect fit for the drain hole of the cooler, and none of the other hardware I had attempted to string together was necessary.
I actually do/did have one problem – but it wasn’t clear until after the boil. I think I was about a half-gallon short on sparge water, and total wort after boil bears this out. In any case, the boil went on without much trouble. My son pointed out a pan about to over-boil before it became a complete disaster. About the only issue.
The hop schedule called for three additions of hops, at the beginning of boil and two more at every 20 minute interval. The initial hop addition was .53 ounces of Horizon (recipe calling for 0.5 oz of 12%). The first addition was 0.75 oz of Willamette (recipe called for 0.75oz of 5%). The final addition was another 0.5 oz of Willamette (recipe called for .5oz of 5%). All went well. And I was able to keep from including such a large layer of the hops when I moved the wort to the carboy. Whew.
Cooling is always slower than desirable, as there is only so much ice and cold water. Maybe some day I will splurge for better hardware. But for now, I’ll work with what I have. Cooling took a couple of hours, at which point I moved the wort to the carboy for fermentation, and pitched the yeast. The SG measured at 1.044, though the delta should probably be about 0.005 based on the temp I eye-balled. Which puts the SG right in the right neighborhood as 1.049, with recipe suggesting 1.047.
I used a Nottingham yeast, Danstar. Palmer had suggested an American yeast in his own recipe, but mentioned that Nottingham was a good dry yeast to use as well. Looks good so far. That is where I am now, waiting to see the yeast take off. Initial observation – it is a dark, as it should be. Looks yummy.
Some more pictures:
In other news, the fig wine that was my first ever wine attempt finally hit its scheduled maturity date, so we popped the cork earlier in the week. That being said, it was still horrible. And at Kim’s suggestion (with my agreement), we simply dumped the one bottle that remained. Neither of us was interested in drinking more than the mouthful or so to sample.
A while back I had prepared a small experiment of different amounts of mint combined with both gin and vodka. The jars had been ready for some time, but I had not found an opportunity to test out the results. This week that finally became a reality. There is a visible difference between using gin and vodka; the gin is darker. The gin based mint liqueur was also tastier. All had an okay amount of mint, but the 0.7 oz batch of gin mint was best. I don’t think any more would have made it better.
I moved the liqueur from the mason jars it was stored in into second-hand liqueur bottles. To each bottle I added 1 or 2 drops of green food coloring for a quite beautiful (and tasty) presentation. We’ve been sampling it in different preparations though the week – a grasshopper with mint, coffee liqueur and cream, a custom concoction with mint, fig leaf liqueur and a squirt of lime juice, and even straight.
Lots going on in the garden, but it will have to wait for another post…