A month or so ago a friend who had been dabbling with kit based brewing finally decided enough was enough and it was time to take the big step into all-grain brewing. He had started out originally religiously following the kit instructions, using sugar and fermenting at high temperatures and not enjoying the results. After a few conversations, tips and pointers he started to make some ok beers. The brewing bug had bitten, and he wanted to move to all-grain. but instead of having to work through all the literature and figure things out from basics, he decided the best thing to do was to book in a full brew day with League of Brewers. Seven hours of one-on-one tuition, with the whole time spent about talking about the various stages of the brewing process with direct hands-on experience at the same time.
The timing was particularly good as we could brew up a 50 litre batch for him to take home and ferment there, all of which would be ready in time for his big birthday party, open door, live band, mountains of steak. No pressure, right? The only question was what to brew!
Turhan advised that his favourite styles were Scotch Ale, Best Bitter, Porters, Stouts and strong German style beers like Bocks but given the intended party audience (early winter outdoors) and the need to get reasonable ABV across 50litres using a 50litre Braumeister set-up we settled on a Porter.
I have a favourite porter recipe but it was clear from talking with Turhan that something stronger, darker, much more full bodied and richer was required. So I started from scratch putting something together, initially with a lot more smoked malt but scaled back to “mysterious complexity level” due to Turhan’s failure to previously enjoy any smoked beer ever.
BATCH: 50L at 5.4% ABV
GRAIN / ADJUNCT:
9.50 kg Pale Malt – 73.08%
1.00 kg Chocolate Malt – 7.69%
0.50 kg Carafa Special Type 1 – 3.85%
0.50 kg Dark Crystal Malt – 3.85%
0.50 kg Smoked Malt* – 3.85%
0.50kg Malted Oats – 3.85%
0.50kg Light DME – 3.85%
20.0 min at 58 deg C
20.0 min at 70 deg C
20.0 min at 72 deg C
90.00 g Northern Brewer (DE) [9.40%] – Boil 60.0 min
2 packs Mangrove Jack M07 British Ale
Post-boil Gravity (OG): 1.056
Finishing Gravity (FG): 1.014
* The Smoked Malt used here was Pale Malt that had been in our cold-smoker for 12 hours using oak shavings from a pinot noir barrel. These were slightly too dry so were sprayed with some porter to moisten them up for smoking. Available for you to brew with – on very special request!
It was a great party, so my memory of the beer is not as fresh as it could be (especially as we also managed to finish off a keg of Belgian Pale Ale and a Red IPA along the way). However, there is no doubt that we nailed the goal of providing a rich and dark beer that was full of malt character, with great silky mouthfeel and nicely full bodied too. I am not sure that the crowd at this event are used to drinking “homebrew” but the beer received a very warm welcome and was enthusiastically demolished by all. Personally I would have wanted a bit more smoke in there but then – we didn’t brew it for me.
The robust Porter was as good as anything you’ll get from a top craft brewery and it keeps getting better as the weeks go by. The main purpose for this brew was for a birthday party and everyone that tried it was genuinely surprised at how good the beer was. And not just the normal “this is quite good for a home brew” comments, but “this is better than the beers I buy at my local”. That is high praise indeed in a town like Nelson where so much high quality craft beer is readily available. Naturally I hid a fair amount of the Porter so I can continue to enjoy it until the next brew is finished!
If you are interested in attending a training session – either on your own or with friends – on how to brew then please email [email protected] We will happily customise an event to suit your needs and budget.
Turhan’s thoughts on Brew-School
No amount of reading could impart the real life and hands on experience I gained from spending a day brewing with Mike. At the end of the day I left with 50 litres of top quality porter wort for my fermenter, a wealth of knowledge and enough enthusiasm that I’m now in the process of setting up a mini full mash brewery at the end of my garage. Thanks Mike 🙂