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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Strong, Mostly Grain Porter

I am a big fan of Porter.  My previous batch of The President's Porter came out well.  I decided that I would make a regular Porter.  I am interested in moving into all-grain brewing, but I also had some malt extract from an old brewing kit that I wanted to use.  So I decided to make a mostly all-grain porter with the exception that  I would use up the remainder of the extract I had.  I adjusted the amount of grains I used using the an extract to grain conversion.

  • 19.4 oz blonde malt extract from an old brewing kit (I thought I'd use it up.)
  • 7 lbs cracked American 2-row (Klages) malt
  • 1 lbs cracked Munich malt
  • 1 lbs cracked crystal malt 120
  • 1/2 lbs cracked black patent malt
  • 1/2 lbs cracked English chocolate malt
  • 1/2 lbs cracked, roasted barley
  • 1 oz German northern brewer hops
  • 1 oz German Tettnang hops 
  • 3/4 cup dextrose
  • 0.388 oz. Nottingham Dry Yeast
  • 2.5 tsp diammonium phosphate
  • 1 tsp Crosby & Baker yeast energizer
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 5-6 gallons Reverse Osmosis purified water
  • 27 lbs ice

As always, it is important to sanitize all equipment.  I mixed up about a gallon of one-step in my large ale pale for the purpose.  While sanitizing my equipment I managed to break my hydrometer; so I will make this batch blind to the specific gravity of the wort.  I am not too worried about that; although my natural curiosity makes me want to measure things.


The 2-row malt needs to be mashed and sparged.  I combined the specialty grains with the base malt and allowed them to steep while mashing.  There are mixed views about whether that is a good idea, but most folks seem to think it is okay.

I used 10.5 pounds of malt. 1 quart of water per pound of malt is about 2.5 gallons of water (I won't quibble over a pint).

At 1:06 PM the water reached 168  °F  and I added the grain. A withdrawn sample of liquid turned a dark purple when I added iodine showing the presence of starches. I turned down the heat to try to maintain the temperature between 150-158  °F.  In fact, at times the temperature drifted up as high as 178  °F.

One of the drawbacks of combining the specialty grains with the base grain is that as the wort became darker, it was more difficult to discern whether iodine turned it purple and whether the starches had been converted to sugars.  The iodine test was essentially worthless toward the end of the mashing process.

I stopped the mash at 2:10 PM.


Mashing the base grain by itself might have allowed me to sparge the grain with a separate supply of water.  Because I only have one large brew pot I had to adjust the sparging process.

Out of necessity, I improvised my own sparging technique.  I removed the grain bag from the brew pot, squeezed out liquid and put it in a frying pan. I squeezed out as much liquid as I could put the bag into a big mixing bowl and drained the liquid from the frying pan.  I alternated putting the grain in the frying pan and in the bowl and squeezed out as much liquid as I could each time.  Each time I poured the liquid into the brew pot.

I poured all of the liquid into my ale pale, and then put the grain bag back in my brew pot, added the remainder of the water (except a cup that I put aside for pitching the yeast) and heated to 170 °F.  I removed the grains, repeated my squeezing technique, and recombined all the liquid in the brew pot.


I added the malt extract and gypsum and put the wort on to boil.  The wort came to a boil at 3:10 PM. At 3:30 PM, I added half of the Norther Brewer hops.  At 3:43, I added the rest of the Northern Brewer hops.

At 3:55 I removed the heat, and started my ice bath to cool the wort for fermentation.

Primary Fermentation

I heated the cup that I put aside in the microwave up to just below 100 °F (50 seconds), added 1 tsp of diammonium phosphate, and put it aside to cool to 92 °F.  At 4:20, I added the yeast.

At 4:25 PM, the wort had cooled to about 75 °F.  I siphoned it into the carboy. By 5:00 PM, I added the yeast, dry hopped the Tettnang hops, outfitted the carboy with a blow-tube, and was ready to clean up.


A week later I siphoned the wort into my ale pale.  After I cleaned the carboy, I added  another teaspoon of diammonium phosphate, 1 teaspoon Crosby & Baker yeast energizer, and re-introduced the wort to the carboy.  This time I capped the carboy with a fermentation lock instead of a blow-tube.


I bottled a week after re-racking, mostly because I went on vacation the following weekend.  I added another 1/2 teaspoon of diammonium phosphate and all the dextrose during bottling.  The taste was malty with a distinct burnt flavor.


It was carbonated, but not over-carbonated.  It takes awhile to settle in the glass, but it did not spurt out of the bottle.  After two weeks fermentation in the bottles, I opened the first bottle.  My wife an I both independently had "chocolaty" as the first word to describe the ale.  The burnt flavor was still there, but it was a little mellowed. The hops are a subtle aftertaste.  The beer is not too sweet, but has a hint of sweetness.  I am happy with how it turned out.


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