It has taken me a relatively long time to appreciate the malty side of craft beer. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good stout as much as the next fellow. But stouts (especially the big ones) often have quite a dose of hops to provide a good balance. Same goes for something like a Baltic Porter. But a soft, delicate, malt-forward ale that tends toward the sweet side? Never did much for me. I suppose, like a lot of American Craft Beer drinkers, I was too busy burning my palate in the hops-race to bother with these classic, mostly English styles. And so, in an effort to be well-rounded in my style appreciation, I’ve set out to fix this, starting with the Brown Porter.
According to the BJCP, the Brown Porter is the smallest and most sessionable of the family. It should have a mild roastiness, very little hop presence, and a medium body. The brown porter interested me as a classic style with a lot of room for subtlety; and really, I wanted something that would be refreshing in the Spring heat. I was brewing this beer for a cookout we had planned for the end of April and knew that I didn’t want a big beer that would lay me out before I even got the grill lit.
The recipe was once again from AHB; but this time, I went with the Session Series kit: Chocolate, Black Patent, Special Roast, and Crystal 90L malts; Malto-Dextrin; and 6lbs of LME for the fermentables. The hop additions were very minimal: 0.75oz Chinnok for bittering and 0.25oz Chinnok for flavoring. We also did a little bit of experimentation, with our first attempt at dry hopping — not really to style, but it actually panned out well! We used Fuggles to be somewhat “in character” with the beer, which at first added a (not-overbearing) grassy hop nose, but, at the time of this tasting, has since mellowed out into a really balanced and complementary aroma. The yeast was WLP002 — a standard for beers of this ilk. However, perhaps due to reading too many message board posts about it, I was really paranoid about the yeast floccing out on me. Sure enough, despite (I thought) pretty careful temp control in the swamp cooler and several attempts to stir them up, I could only get the beer down to 1.017, which is a relatively high FG. I have since bought a few packs of Nottingham yeast to keep as a reserve in case this happens again in the future.
This recipe called for a late addition of LME. I believe that these late sugars not mixing well with the top-off water led to my inability to get an accurate reading for my OG. This posed no ill effects for the beer, it was just annoying.
OG: 1.041 – 1.050
ABV: Approx. 4% ABV
Appearance: Dark brown body, with a lush head. You can see that the Brown Porter is the stepping stone between a Mild and some of the more robust darker porters/stouts. Wonderful head retention and lacing along the glass.
Smell: A nice earthy Fuggle scent; I only used 1 oz of whole leaf hops in secondary, which was definitely enough — the aroma is by no means overbearing, but it is present.
Taste: Delicate roasty notes, a bit sweet; the perfect balance of Chinook hops.
Notes: This was our first time brewing with Malto-Dextrin, which added a nice silkiness to the body of the beer without really weighing it down. I am pretty pleased with how this one turned out — It’s sessionable without being boring! I plan to start formulating my own recipes for the style to have on hand for a house beer. This series from AHB is designed to be ready ASAP; and while this beer was definitely drinkable a few weeks after brewing, it has really benefited from an extra month or so of aging.