Beer 34: Imperial Porter for Competition

Usually a fan of Stouts over Porters, my first inspiration to brew a Porter came after drinking one from Tibbs Brewing Company, a small Kalamazoo nano-brewery that makes the best Tripel this side the Mississippi. And a solid Porter to boot: it’s smooth and chocolaty, not too bitter or roasty. Perfect. Coincidentally and ironically, my Imperial Porter will be judged by the owner of Tibbs himself, on the next episode of the show I’m a part of. I will be going against two other Porters.

I remember my first Porter recipe having at least 2 pounds of chocolate malt in it, thinking “chocolate malt” meant chocolate flavor. In fact, it’s referring to the color of the barley, not the flavor, although it does impart coffee and cocoa flavor to the beer. This recipe, inspired from Gordon Strong’s Modern Homebrew Recipes, is a beefed up version of an American Porter with some English barley and orange-ish hops. The yeast is clean, fermented well, and adds no flavor or aroma, which lets the malt shine. The hops (Simcoe, Amarillo) are meant to add an orange flavor to the beer, since orange and chocolate go well together; however, I don’t get that at all. If the hops contribute anything, I don’t have the palate to detect it. The has a nice bitterness, which means less bitter than a Stout. The different between a Porter and Stout is basically: less roast, less coffee, less bitterness, less astringent harshness.

I really like this beer. It would be nice to experiment with some flaked wheat or barley, to give a creamy mouthfeel to the beer (I’ve never used flaked ingredients). Dry hopping with 2 ounces of Simcoe might be nice to get a more pronounced orange-hop aroma, although I honestly prefer a simple, smooth chocolaty Porter.


My brewing method is different during winter. I start with water from the kitchen tap, rather than the outside faucet (that is frozen). So the water is not filtered, which means it’s probably hard and chlorinated.  After filling the pot with about 9 gallons of water, I crank the heat, crush my barley, cut the heat at 151F-155Fish, and begin the long 30 minute mash, stirring occasionally for better efficiency. Speaking of efficiency, I really crush the hell out of the barley – a BIAB perk. I set my barley crusher to it’s thinnest setting. My dunk the bag in the mash water method hasn’t been working – I get dough balls that I have to destroy. That happens with bigger beers, might be temperature dependent, and might have something to do with the finer crush. Oh well. After the 30 minute mash, squeeze the bag, add first wort hops, crank the heat, boil for 30 minutes, add flame out hops, and chill in a snow bank for a couple hours (getting Taco Bell in the meantime). Finally, put into Fermentation chamber, wait until the beer gets around 70F, add dry yeast, let ferment for about a week, put beer into keg, pressurize at 45p.s.i. for about 12 hours. Drink.

Imperial Porter
7.4 lb Maris Otter
7.1 lb 2-Row
1.2 lb Chocolate malt
.5 lb Roasted Barley
1.1 Crystal Medium (? UK Crystal 55L I think?)
2 oz Fuggles FWH (30 minute boil)
.25 oz Simcoe FWH (to give a touch more bitterness)
.75 oz Simcoe FO (followed by a slow, snow bank chill)
1 oz Amarillo FO
US-05 dry yeast (sprinkled into wort)
note: mashed at 146
final hydrometer reading: 1.020



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