Robust Porter 2.0 – Plummer’s Porter

The second wedding beer I brewed is a tweaked re-brew of a Robust Porter I brewed back in April 2014, hence the 2.0 designation. We decided to call it Plummer’s Porter as a homage to the place Rebecca and I met, Engineering Faculty at the University of Waterloo. Engineering students call themselves Plummer’s (intentionally misspelled). I believe it came out of embracing some name calling between Waterloo and University of Toronto several decades ago, something about us not being real engineers at the time, who knows.

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A perfect kettle trub cone after the whirlpool.

This post I am going to try to give a short insight to my recipe creation and tweaking process. This recipe is a tweaked version of the original recipe I brewed. When I am looking to brew a beer style that I never have before I start by going to the BJCP guidelines to get an understanding of the style and the main flavours and aromas associated with it. In this case, the key points of Robust Porter are all about the malt. There should be a noticeable roasty aroma accompanied by some supporting malt aromas. The flavour should feature lightly burnt black malt character with everything else supporting and balancing that. With that in mind I start to do some research by looking at some well established recipes. Usually that starts with Brewing Classic Styles (BCS) and then I also look at some well regarded clone recipes of classic examples of the style. For version 1.0 of this beer I ended up adapting Jamil’s Robust Porter recipe to my system volumes and efficiencies.

The last time I brewed this it came out with a bit too much milk chocolate flavour and too low in roast, so I approached this recipe with intent of tweaking it for more roast, and a dryer finish. With this in mind I bumped up the chocolate and black malts by 2 oz each. I mashed this beer at 154*F last time and it finished at 1.018, so I bumped it down this time to 152*F hoping to dry it out a bit more. I also happened to drink a bottle of Edmund Fitzgerald (by Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewery) for the first time a few days before and loved it. Their website says they use Crystal 77L (probably Crisp) so I bumped my crystal from 45L to 65L to get a bit closer.  It also just happens to be the #1 example of the style according to the BJCP. Increasing the lovibond of the crystal malt should give less caramel sweetness, and more nutty/toffee which suits a roast porter nicely. Continue reading

Bridal Brau Imperial Stout

The is the first wedding beer I brewed, because I wanted to give it as long as possible to mellow before the big date on Jan 31st 2015. Big imperial stouts often taste quite boozy when they are young. Ideally I would have brewed this many months ago, but it fell by the wayside. I brewed this beer back on October 21st and it was a doozy. 28.25 lbs of grain is a lot to fit in a 10 gallon Igloo cooler so I reduced my mash thickness to 1.0 qt/lbs, which is very thick. In retrospect I should have just brewed a 4 gallon batch instead of my regular 6 gallon batch. That would have allowed me to mash at normal thickness and take all my readings. Ohh well…

Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. Image credit: theperfectlyhappyman.com

Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. Image credit: theperfectlyhappyman.com

I hadn’t brewed an imperial stout before so I decided to look for inspiration from some of my favourite examples. One RIS I really enjoy is Oscar Blues Ten Fidy, with mysterious opaque black colour and intense roast profile. It also happens to be brewed near Denver, Co, where Rebecca and I are going for our honeymoon in February. I did a bit of research and found that someone had made a homebrew recipe with the help of the brewer. I was a bit skeptical because the Oscar Blues website doesn’t mention crystal malt in the recipe, only 2 row/chocolate/roasted barley/flaked oats. I decided to brew it anyway.

I took the percentages of their grain bill and adapted it for my system and expected efficiency (much lower than my usual 75%). Even with the mash thickness set to 1.0 qt/lbs I needed to up my boil time to 2 hours to be able to use a decent amount of sparge water. Since the OG was significantly higher than anything I had brewed before, I decided to set my brewhouse efficiency to 60%, hoping that if anything I would overshoot a bit. Continue reading