Brew Dudes

Homebrewing blog and resource

Bringing Back The Porter Beer Style WIth Tips For You

Mike is a keeper of the beer style flame.

He does not want other types of beer to die off under the weight of IPA Mania.

Here we taste a porter that he brewed, chat about it, and discuss tips that you should follow to brew a great one.

Mike’s Porter Recipe

Here’s the recipe for Mike’s Keeping the Flame Alive Porter:

Batch size is 6.5 US Gallons of wort at the end of the boil.

Grains
74% Maris Otter Pale Malt
7.4% Medium Crystal Malt (55°L)
7.5% Victory Malt (25°L)
5.6% Black Patent Malt (525°L)
5.6% Brown Malt (70° L)

Hops

1 ounce of Challenger (7.6% AA) – 60 minutes to go in the boil
2 ounces of East Kent Goldings (6% AA) – 10 minutes to go in the boil

Yeast
Wyeast 1968 London ESB Ale Yeast

Predictions

Original Gravity: 1.055
Final Gravity: 1.016
IBUs: 35
°SRM: 31
ABV: 4.9%

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Black color when you looked down at the pint glass. When held up to the light, you could see ruby highlights and a brownish tinge. Head was slightly off-white.

Aroma: Strong toast aroma. A little biscuit malt note as well.
Flavor: More toasty than roasty, some dark chocolate notes, licorice in the end. Rich

Mouthfeel: Medium body. It wasn’t too heavy.

Overall Impression: This beer reminded me a lot of Mayflower Brewing Company’s Porter which is a wonderful beer if you can get your hands on it. This beer had three of four solid flavor notes that worked well together. I didn’t mind not having the caramel note come through, the biscuit from the Victory malt, the bitter chocolate from the Black malt, and the strong toast of the Brown Malt made it great.

Hot Tip For Brewing a Great Porter

Mike says if you want to brew a great porter, you need to go bold with your specialty malt. You need to choose one or two of the flavor characters that you want to be present in the beer and increase the amounts of the specialty malts in your grain bill that will make those characters shine.

Have fun brewing beer styles – especially ones for the colder months.

Brew ON!

What Is A Homebrew Beer Batch Size?

You’d think with over 33 years of collective homebrewing beer experience, we would know definitively what a batch size is when reviewing a recipe. Sadly, it’s not true. The good thing is that this measurement can mean different things to different people. In this post and video, we discuss what a homebrew beer batch size means to each of us and why it can differ. Hopefully, it will help you to understand what it means to you and your process.

Why Are We Talking About Batch Size?

So in the Community Brew recipe, if you weren’t paying attention, you would miss that the grain bill is measured to produce a wort volume of 6.5 gallons at the end of the boil.

Since I didn’t pay close attention to that important factor, I didn’t adjust the recipe for my typical procedure of producing enough wort that gets me 5 gallons in the fermentor at the end of the brew session.

To be clear: how I brewed the community brew brown ale vs. what the recipe called for was off by a gallon. At the end of the boil, I had 5.5 gallons of wort which resulted in 5 gallons in the fermentor. I should have had 6.5 gallons instead.

In my mind, batch size is all about what I have in the fermentor. I always create recipes for what is coming out of my kettle and into my carboy.

Mike thinks of batch size as the amount of beer that will be available for packaging. His recipes are set for having more wort at the end of the boil because there is a lot of loss between the end of his boil and when he is ready to get the beer into the keg.

He still brews with 5 gallons in mind but it’s 5 gallons of beer that goes in the keg or bottles.

What To Keep In Mind In Terms of Batch Size

The big takeaway is that no one is wrong when it comes to their idea of batch size. Reading the comments on YouTube, it seems like this topic has many answers. The thing to keep in mind when reviewing recipes is to note the meaning of batch size. This meaning is usually conveyed via the volumes at the beginning and end of the boils.

Look for that piece of information in homebrew beer recipe. If not, your results may vary wildly or in my case, you will brew a beer with a starting gravity 11 points higher than what the recipe was calculated for.

This is not the first time we have discussed recipe translations before. Check out the posts related to grain weights as percentages of total and measuring hops using alpha acid percentages.

BREW ON!

PLAATO Digital Airlock and Fermentation Monitor Review

Back in the summer of 2017, a Kickstarter campaign caught my eye. It was for this interesting piece of homebrew tech called Plaato digital airlock. After pledging my money, the project was fully funded but it took a while for the product to get manufactured and sent out. My device arrived in October of 2018, just in time to monitor my Community Beer. Learn more about this digital airlock and what we think about it so far.

Plaato Specifications

So the Plaato device was started by a couple of dudes in Norway that wanted to create a device that would be helpful in their hobby of homebrewing.

This digital airlock allows for you to track a few different things during fermentation.

  • The ambient temperature of where your fermentor is
  • The vigor of your fermentation activity
  • An estimate of your beer’s specific gravity in real time
  • An estimate of your beer’s alcohol content in real time

The device is WiFi enabled so it sends information to the cloud that you can access from an app on your phone. So when I am at work, I can see what’s happening to my beer at that moment.

At the start of fermentation, you enter the volume and the specific gravity of the wort and from there the device collects data based on “bubbles per minute” which then gets calculated to reductions in your gravity and increases to your alcohol content.

Plaato App Screenshot

Our Review

After the device was delivered to my house, I opened up the stylish, well constructed box to find an airlock and a USB cord. There were no instructions – just some information on the back of the box on where you could download the app.

Once I had the app, I was able to configure the device to connect to my WiFi and then put it aside.

After the community brew, I sanitized the bottom tube, plugged the airlock in (you have to get a USB –> Electric plug adapter), filled it with water, and let it go.

After a day, data started really coming in. It was pretty cool to track the changes.

I didn’t have an issues with the temperature readings. They were in line with my room thermometer.

After a week, the Plaato stated my beer’s gravity was 1.016. I checked it with my hydrometer and it was 1.012. The app allows you to update the gravity so I did and it recalculated my alcohol.

Pretty cool tech. Check it out.

Brew On!

2018 Community Brew Day – Brew Session Notes

On October 20th, 2018, these Brew Dudes brewed up a Brown Ale as a part of our Community Brew. If you missed our live stream, here is the video:

John’s Brewing Notes

I tried to follow the recipe as best I could. There were a few items I could not get in time for the brew session.

Grains:
11 pounds Golden Promise malt
8 ounces of Briess Special Roast malt
8 ounces of Crystal malt – 60°L (This is different from the recipe)
5 ounces of Chocolate malt – 450°L

Hops:
1.5 ounces of East Kent Goldings hops – 60 minutes to go in the boil
1 ounce of East Kent Goldings hops – 10 minutes to go in the boil

Yeast:
2 smack packs of Wyeast 1098 British Ale yeast. Smacked and allowed to swell for 4 hours before pitching.

Water:
9 US gallons of distilled water. 4 gallons used for mash. I added 2 grams of Gypsum and 4 grams of Calcium Chloride to this volume of water as I heated it for the mash. I made sure to stir it well so that it dissolved into the full volume.

An additional 2 grams of Gypsum and 4 grams of Calcium Chloride was added to the beginning of the boil.

Mash:
I mashed at 152° F for 60 minutes. I collected 2 gallons of wort and added that to my brew kettle. The remaining 5 gallons of water was used to sparge the grains and collect an additional 5 gallons of wort for a total pre-boil volume of 7 gallons. The grains were really clumpy – I had to work to get them properly hydrated.

Boil:

I boiled for 60 minutes, adding the hops when dictated above.

Wrap Up:
After the boil, I chilled the wort down to 65° F and transferred it to my cleaned with PBW and sanitized with StarSan 7 gallon glass carboy.

My final volume in the fermentor was 5 gallons as I had about a half gallon left in the kettle, which was mostly trub and hop debris.

The one oversight (and if I cared more, I would have made adjustments) is that Mike’s recipe called for collecting 6.5 gallons AT THE END OF THE BOIL. My 9 gallon kettle doesn’t really allow me to do that so I just brew it as such.

Please note this instruction if you care.

I believe not following this procedure is why my original gravity is so much higher than anticipated:

Predicted Original Gravity was 1.049. My recorded original gravity is 1.061.

My brown ale is going to be a bit stronger than the style calls for. We’ll shall see if it affects the taste.

We’ll be talking about this beer soon. If you want to be a part of the community brew, drop us a line. Find our contact page on the blog.

BREW ON!

Brut IPA Brewed From An Extract Kit

Have you heard of this style yet? According to a few Google searches, Brut IPA originated from a brew dude named Kim Sturdavant, the head brewer of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen and Brewery. Mike and I had heard of the style and we were interested in brewing it ourselves.

When I saw a kit was available on Northern Brewer, I jumped at the chance to buy it so I could try it out. It was a low effort way to source all the ingredients and step-by-step process. Watch as we tasted and discuss the details of this Brut IPA brewed from an extract kit.

Ingredients In The Kit

I swear I bought an all grain kit but when it arrived at my house, I was surprised to find malt extract when I opened the box.

The kit came with:

  • 6 pounds of Gold malt syrup
  • 1 pound of Golden Light dry malt extract (DME)

I’ll tell ya, I do not like liquid malt extract. I find it hard to work with during the brew process and it makes for beers that are darker in color than what you’re aiming for.

This style is supposed to be very light in color. I knew that wasn’t going to the case as I was racking the wort into the fermentor.

Here are the hops with the instructions of when to add them to the brewing process:

  • 2 oz Nelson Sauvin (10 min hop stand)
  • 2 oz Hallertau Blanc (10 min hop stand)
  • 1 oz Nelson Sauvin (dry hop)
  • 1 oz Hallertau Blanc (dry hop)

For the hop selection, my preference would be to use other varieties to get the fruitiness that this style deserves. I went with the what the kit gave me.

The unique ingredients to this kit are the enzymes that came with it.

  • Amylase Enzyme
  • Amyloglucosidase Enzyme

These two are added at different times in the brewing process to aid in the breaking down of starches to sugars, make the yeast really happy, and dry out the beer.

Beer Tasting Notes

Mike seemed to get some of the tropical notes from it, but that was only after he mentioned the aroma of “orange powder from macaroni and cheese”. The color was off and the hops may not have been our favorites but this style is one that we think homebrewers should try.

For sure, I will be brewing this style again using grains not extract, other hop varieties, and a different yeast strain or at least a powerful punch of yeast to have a strong ferment.

Brew On!

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