County Porter 2021

(I’m going to write about my home-brews in a different way this year. I will write the entries as I go and you will get them on the day that I taste the beer. I’m hoping on keeping it to “one post per beer”.)

I wish I had a better photograph to show you. This recipe is a favourite of mine. The water here in Essex is better for dark beers, particularly Stouts and Porters. This recipe has won me an award before and I brewed it for a competition in July. It was also the last beer I brewed with pre-crushed grain. I bought a crusher in April in the hope that crushing the grain fresh would result in a better product.

Here is the grain bill:

Mash in at 68C; Using mash ratio of 2.75 (approx 22 litres)
Pale Malt            7000g.    78%
Brown Malt           1500g.    17%
Roasted Barley        500g      5%

I treated the water with AMS and Calcium Chloride Flake to a formulation specific to my area. Also the water rested overnight with a campden tablet to reduce chlorine and other nasties that are apparently in our water supply to protect us. I mash for around 1.5 hours these days and then sparge with water between 75 and 85 degrees. Estimating the sparge water temperature is a bit hit and miss on my equipment.

The boil schedule:

Boil for 80 minutes:
  East Kent Goldings   130g      start
  Protofloc                      15min

Ferment at 18 C with Wyeast 1028 London Ale

I made a starter the night before to get the yeast multiplying.

Very active yeast!

Now I really was not paying attention when I brewed this. I mashed in way too high. The tun’s temperature gauge stayed at 70 and the consequence is too much residual sweetness and not enough fermentable sugar.

The 1028 starter went off like a rocket in the fermenter. I’ve never seen 1028 so happy. In the article I recently published in Zymurgy with Phill, we sort of wrote 1028 off for strong ales. The packet we used must have been old. With the porter, I had to clean the airlock because of the high activity. I let the fermentation go for over a week and then racked the porter to a secondary along with taking a couple of bottles out early.

This morning (Easter Sunday) I am breaking a 46 day period of abstinence from alcohol and what better way to do it than with this Porter. I opened one of the early bottles. Unfortunately I’m disappointed. There is no head retention (although that could be the glass from the dishwasher) and it is too sweet. It is early days yet, but the beer is not balanced. Boo. It just goes to show that attention must be paid at all times during the brew process. As I get through the beer though it is improving, so maybe there is hope.

I have 12 litres to bottle up for the long run and I’m giving it another week or so to bulk condition. It’s a wait and see scenario. For a competition though, I would be inclined to have another go.

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