Robust Porter (all-grain)

Pat; destroyer of porter.

Pat; destroyer of porter.

The BJCP website calls a robust porter “A substantial, malty dark ale with a complex and flavorful roasty character”. With this recipe I’m going for a hearty, dark beer with lots of flavor. Lots of toasted, biscuit-y, mocha, chocolate character from UK malts and rounded out with some moderately spicy and slightly bitter challenger hops, reserving some more mild Vanguard hops throughout the balance some of the malty-ness.

  • 8.5 lb Marris Otter malt
  • 1 lb Victory malt
  • 0.75 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.625 lb Amber malt
  • 0.5 lb Roasted barley
  • 1 oz challenger (6.7%aa) 60 min
  • 1 oz vangaurd (4.5%aa) 40 min
  • 1 oz vanguard (4.5%aa) 20 min
  • White labs British ale yeast

// Mash in with just the marris otter at 156F using a pump to recirculate. Hold 60 min, raise temp to 168. Add the rest of grains to the mash and hold 10 minutes. Sparge to collect 7 gallons 1.035 wort. Boil 90 minutes to result with 5.5 gal wort 1.05 wort. Chill to 80F, pitch decanted starter. //

On my last stout, I used a side pot for the roasted grains to avoid any astringency. It was kind of a pain, so this time I just threw the dark grains in right at the end of the mash, hoping to achieve the same effect. Some people seem to think this works just as well.

I was pretty excited to use my newly built sparge arm for this batch, but it wound up not working out so hot. First, I think the holes were a little too big so that the sparge water was leaking out a little too quickly; more or less just draining through the mash without rinsing the grains. Second, my pump was f-ing up because air was getting into the hose (I neglected to use hose clamps on the fittings since it worked without them last time). So, I “fly-sparged” for the first half, then gave up and dumped the rest in to batch sparge the rest. It worked out fine, but I would’ve liked to really utilize the new piece on the first go-around.

I originally planned to use some leftover lactose (around 0.4 lb) to add some dessert-like sweetness in this batch, but I chickened out right at the last minute.

UPDATE (6/14): Gave it 1 week in the primary and 1 week in the secondary. Great aroma so far – coffee, cookie, slightly chocolate, with a faint fruitiness. Not a TON of flavor right up front, but a good amount of body, lots of toasty earthy flavors with the Amber and Victory, more of a brown-ale sensation than a stout. No harsh flavors. Sweet and roasty up front, with some of the hops in the finish which is refreshing. F.G. 1.016

THE VERDICT

The final beer wasn’t overly robust, but this was an all-around solid porter that I really enjoyed. I usually associate a robust porter with being really edgy and bold – this beer was more mild. Not a ton of flavor from the specialty malts, which I think was from adding them so late in the mash and not giving enough time to fully extract more sugars.  Next time I’ll go back to the side-pot method so as to avoid the harsh astringency but get a more focused extraction. The Vanguard hops added at 40 and 20 did some cool things – it really gave it fresh finish; not hoppy or bitter, but just a well-rounded freshness. Hard to describe, but I like it. I’d be curious how this would lend to other styles. The head was thick & creamy with great retention; I’m not totally sure where this came from – possibly the Marris otter + British yeast? Usually some oats or wheat helps to create this, but I didn’t use any.  Of people who tasted, most seemed to enjoy it well and easily put back a pint or two. Prost!

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Filed under All-grain, Stout / Porter

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