Tag Archives: Porter

Homebrew: Adding Oak Cubes and Vanilla to the Nightly Serenade Imperial Porter

Sorry again for the inactivity, last week I started working at the PBL Brewing Laboratory at VTT, where I will be writing my Master’s Thesis, so have mostly been busy with work. This weekend I thought I’d devote some time for my homebrews, so today I have been preparing some bottles for finally bottling the apple cider I brewed about 6 months ago, which has been bulk aging in a corny keg the last 5 months. Will hopefully have time to bottle it tomorrow. I have tasted it on a couple of occasions during the summer, and it is quite tart, but it is slowly mellowing fortunately. Hopefully it will become enjoyable in the upcoming months.

I also added 50g of French Medium Toast Oak Cubes (which had been soaking in bourbon) and 2 sliced up bourbon vanilla pods to the Nightly Serenade Imperial Porter. I took a gravity sample, and it had fallen to 1.023, giving the beer an ABV of 7.5%. With the bourbon it should rise to about 8%. I tasted the gravity sample, and the beer featured a combination of coffee and dark fruit tones. I think this will need at least a couple of months of maturing to reach its prime.

Took some small taste samples from the Unexpected Predator American IPA and Czech Mate Pilsner as well, which have been in kegs force carbonating and lagering. The IPA had a nice resiny hoppiness with a strong bitterness, coupled with a caramelly maltiness, but I think this will need a couple of weeks of maturing still. I will be bottling the IPA next week. The pilsner was a bit more interesting for me, since I haven’t brewed one before, and it featured lots of grassy and spicy hop flavours, coupled with a bready maltiness, and slight butterscotch tones (which I guess are from diacetyl). I guess I will leave this for 3 more weeks of lagering (it has been lagering for 3 weeks now, giving a total of 6 weeks of lagering).

Beer Tasting Evening

I organized another beer tasting event together with a couple of friends (Kimmo, Marcus L. and Marcus N.) yesterday, and this time we tasted through a total of 21 different beers (we had 24 beers total, but didn’t taste through them all). Out of the 21 beers, 8 were homebrews (one of my own, two from Marcus L., and five that our Swedish friend Ingo had sent us; Thanks for them!). Most of the beers were fantastic and we had a great time. We also had some tasty homemade hamburgers and potato wedges to fill out stomachs between the beers (thanks Marcus L. and Marcus N. for making them!). Here is a picture of the whole line-up:

The line-up included:
Back row, left to right: Cigar City Jai Alai, St. Feuillien Saison, Black Isle Goldeneye Pale Ale (not tasted), La Trappe Witte (not tasted), Southern Tier Iniquity, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout, Southern Tier Backburner, Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Galaxy, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Challenger, Brewdog IPA is Dead – Motueka, Brewdog IPA is Dead – HBC, Brewdog Hardcore IPA (not tasted), Brewdog DogA.

Front row, left to right: “1 AM” – British Yeast, “1 AM” – American Yeast, Citra IPA (mine), Slinka V IPA, PMX II – Sällskapsporter, PraktPretto II – Ale, Slinka V IPA (again), Zum Zum, Grabthar’s Hammer – Imperial India Pale Ale.

We began the evening by trying out Brewdog’s IPA is Dead series:

The beers poured with a similar golden-amber color and a slight white head that left some lacing. The Galaxy version was slightly hazier than the rest of the bunch. The Challenger version featured an earthy, grassy and slightly citrusy aroma, that pulled my mind towards ‘English’-style ales directly. The flavor was the least hoppy of the bunch, and you could get tones of caramel, toasted malt and red berries, along with the earthy and herby hoppiness. The Galaxy version had an aroma featuring tones of mango, passion fruit and grapefruit. The flavor was similar, featuring strong tones of grapefruit, citrus, resin and some tropical fruits. The bitterness of the Galaxy version felt the harshest and most present. The HBC version also featured tones of tropical fruits (mango) in the aroma, but had more of a grassy feel. The flavor felt the sweetest of the four beers, and featured tones of citrus, currants and some grassiness. The Motueka version featured tones of dill and lemon in the aroma, and it reminded me a bit of the tones you get from the Sorachi Ace hop. The flavor contained some tones of tropical fruits alongside the lemon which was present in the aroma already. The beers all had a medium body and a medium-low carbonation level. My favorite of the bunch was the Galaxy version.

Next up was a foursome of homebrews (My Citra IPA, and Ingo’s Slinka V IPA, Zum Zum and PraktPretto II):

Again the beers had a similar appearance, all being slightly hazy, having colors in the golden-amber range and having white to off-white heads. The Citra IPA featured tones of passion fruits, lychee, mango and some alcohol in the aroma. The flavor began slightly sweet, with honey-like tones, which are joined by hop tones of tropical fruits. The finish is quite smooth and with some bitterness. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Slinka V IPA featured tones of caramel and ‘fruity bubblegum’ in the aroma. The flavor was quite different, moving towards resiny and earthy hop flavors, and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and low carbonation level. Zum Zum was a little strange, as according to the label it should have been a beer with a low IBU but loads of hops (I was expecting a beer in the style of an American Pale Ale), but it felt more like a Hefeweizen. Both the aroma and flavor was dominated by spicy phenols, some banana and yeastiness, which are typical of the Hefeweizen-style. The beer had a light body and a medium carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected? PraktPretto II (an English Ale, hopped with EK Goldings, 5.9%, 30 IBU, 1.055->1.010) featured earthy and grassy tones in the aroma, and it felt very true to the style. There was some cherry in the aroma as well. The began with a sweet maltiness, that was joined by some earthiness. The flavors were well balanced. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. This was my favorite of these three Ingo beers.

After this it was time to try two of Alko’s summer beers, St. Feuillien Saison and Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale, and Marcus L.’s two homebrews (the same Amber Ale base, but fermented with S-04 and US-05):

The saison poured golden-yellow with a fluffy white head. The aroma was mostly spicy (Belgian yeast tones), with some slight citrus. The flavor was quite light, with the same spicyness from the aroma and a dry finish. The body was light and carbonation level was medium-high. Refreshing summer beer. The Norrebro Pacific Summer Ale poured golden-amber, with a minimal white head. The aroma contained tones of caramelly malt, honey, and a slight fruity hoppiness. The flavor was similarly malt-dominated, with bready and caramelly flavors dominating, with a slight grassy hoppiness in the background. The finish was quite dry with not much bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium carbonation level. The “1 AM” ales were amber colored, with slight off-white heads and a oily texture. Both beers had a caramelly and malty aroma, with the British version having some red berries in the aroma as well, while the American version had some ‘dishcloth’ tones as well. Both beers were quite bland in flavor, featuring mostly maltiness and some sour undertones. Both beers had a light body and medium carbonation level. Both were probably passed their prime unfortunately.

After this we started to get hungry, so we cooked up some burgers and potato wedges. While cooking we enjoyed Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA (unfortunately no picture or tasting notes, but see this post from when I tried it last), full-packed with citrusy hoppiness. After dinner we moved to the heavier beers, and poured up Ingo’s Grabthar’s Hammer (9%, 101 IBU, 1.086->1.018, Amarillo, Riwaka, Cascade, Chinook, and Summer hops), Green Flash Imperial IPA, Southern Tier Iniquity and Southern Tier Backburner:

Grabthar’s Hammer poured with a hazy amber color and a white head. The aroma featured tones of sweet tropical fruits, citrus and slight alcohol (the aroma was similar to his Slinka V IPA). The flavor began with a sweet maltiness, that is joined by tones of tropical fruits and citrus. The finish is quite sweet with a huge bitterness. There are slight solvent tones present as well. The beer has a medium body and medium-low carbonation level. Green Flash Imperial IPA poured with a golden color and a really fluffy and large white head, that collapsed leaving tons of lacing. The aroma featured a sweet citrusy and herby tone, that felt really familiar, but that none of us could pinpoint. Maybe it was tangerine, which Summit hops are known for. The flavor was dominated by hoppy tones of resin and lemon, and the finish was quite sweet and bitter. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Iniquity (Black IPA) poured very dark brown (almost black), with a off-white head. The aroma contained tones of roasted malt, spices and a slight hoppiness. The flavor began with some roasted tones and caramel, and it was joined by some resiny hop tones and a bitter finish. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. Southern Tier Backburner (Barleywine) poured with a dark amber color, and a slight off-white head was formed. The aroma was nutty, malty and caramelly, and the flavor was similar. The flavor was dominated by very sweet caramelly tones, together with a nutty maltiness and a slightly bitter finish. The beer had a full body and a medium-low carbonation level.

The final beers of the evening were the Imperial Stouts and Porter. Brewdog’s Dog A, De Molen Hemel & Aarde, Bear Republic Big Bear Black Stout and Ingo’s PMX II Sällskapsporter (6.8%, 30 IBU, Magnum, EK Goldings, 1.062->1.010). Fortunately I had read warning notes on the internet about opening the Hemel & Aarde, as when we opened it in the kitchen sink, 75% of the contents came out in a beer fountain.

Dog A poured pitch black with a minimal tan head. The aroma featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and some fruitiness from the chili. The flavor was intensive, featuring roasted malt, coffee, caramel, chocolate and some warming chili tones. The beer had a full body and a surprising amount of carbonation (medium level). It was very drinkable already, but I think it will improve with some aging. Hemel & Aarde was a bit hard to comment on, because of the small amount of beer that remained for tasting. It was also pitch black and no head was formed during pour. The aroma was full of smokey whisky tones and some roastiness. The flavor was similar. The beer had a full body and low carbonation level. Shame about the gusher, since it would have been nice to try more of this beer. The Big Bear Black Stout poured pitch black with a cream-colored head. The aroma was quite light compared to the previous two beers, and it featured tones of roasted malt and coffee. The flavor was also surprisingly light, with roasted tones of coffee and chocolate. A slight tartness was present as well. The beer had a medium body and medium carbonation level. The Sällskapsporter also tried to come out of the bottle when opening, so it poured with a black color and a massive cream-colored head that collapsed quite quickly. The aroma was quite light, with some roasted malt and coffee, together with a slight sourness. The flavor was mostly roasted malts, with a very dry finish and slight bitterness. The body was medium-light with a medium-high carbonation level. I wonder if this was infected as well?

Overall I’m very happy with the evening, as there were some fantastic beers. Personal favorites were Brewdog IPA is Dead Galaxy, Cigar City’s Jai Alai, Green Flash Imperial IPA and Brewdog Dog A.

Homebrew: Double Brewday – Smoke Beer Part II

Last Sunday was a long day, as two friends (Johan & Marcus) and I brewed up two batches of smoke-themed beers (a smokey lager and peat-smoked porter). We started at around 11:30 AM and put the primaries in the fermentation fridge at around 7:30 PM, so a total of about 8 hours. Everything went quite well, but we did have some problems. First, we noticed the cordless drill my friend had brought for my malt mill wasn’t that powerful, so crushing the grains took some time. The battery in the drill lasted through about half the grain bill of each beer, meaning we had to make a total of 3 battery changes. Luckily he had two battery packs, so we had one constantly in the charger. Mashing went well, and with batch sparging we hit total efficiencies of 62% for the lager and 68% for the porter; which is an improvement over my previous batches. I’m still sure that the efficiency could be boosted a bit by crushing finer. Boiling went well, but the hop filter in my boiler kept getting clogged, even though we used cones instead of pellets, so it took some time to get the beers into their fermenters. In the end, the lager hit an OG of 1.050 and the porter an OG of 1.064. The taste samples were promising, but it became evident that we had been a bit too conservative with the amount of smoked malts in each of the beers, as there wasn’t much smokey character present in either of the pre-fermentation samples. Hopefully a smokey aroma and flavor will become more pronounced after fermentation. As if we hadn’t had enough problems already, I managed to grab the wrong combination of fermenting bucket + lid from home, which meant the lid didn’t fit the bucket perfectly. We fixed this by using some tape, to keep it down. After 24 hours the porter, fermented with WLP002, was already bubbling vigorously at an ambient temperature of 16C (meaning the beer itself is probably around 18-19C), while the lager showed no signs of activity in its fermentation fridge (set at 10.5C). Lagers usually have a longer lag time though, and since carbon dioxide is more soluble in cooler water, it will take more time before ‘visible fermentation’ is achieved. Hopefully the beers turn out good (and I won’t mind even though the beers don’t turn out smokey).

Homebrew: Double Brewday – Smoke beer

Sunday I will be brewing two beers together with a couple of friends. One friend expressed a desire for smoked beer, so both beers we will be brewing will have a smoky character. We will be brewing a Smoked Lager, inspired by the German Rauchbiers, and a Smoked Porter, brewed with peated malt from Scotland. It’s probably gonna be a long day, but hopefully we end up with 38 liters of tasty beer. This will be the first time I try brewing a lager, and have managed to get a new fermentation fridge, that I will put to use for it. You can find the recipes below.

[beerxml recipe=http://beer.suregork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/smoked_lager.xml metric=true cache=-1]

[codebox 1]

Homebrew: Tasting the Brandy-Vanilla Porter


  • Brewery: –
  • Country: –
  • Style: Robust Porter
  • ABV: 6.8%
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

    The other homebrew of the night was the Brandy-Vanilla Porter. This porter, originally designed by Denny Coon, was brewed with Maris Otter, Munich, Brown, Chocolate, Dark Crystal and Light Crystal malt, and hopped with Warrior and East Kent Goldings to an IBU of around 42. The beer also matured two weeks together with a mixture containing 3 chopped bourbon vanilla pods, 29 g of French medium toast chips and 2 dl of Jaloviina ***. This should be a nice evening warmer!

    [easyreview title=”Homebrew Brandy-Vanilla Porter” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a pitch-black color, and forms a minimal tan colored head, that leaves slight lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is roasty, with tones of coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, and an undertone of vanilla.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is also very roasty, with tones of burnt malts, coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, and a slight woodiness. The aftertaste is quite dry. The vanilla is definitely there, but the brandy isn’t as detectable.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-full body, and a moderate-low carbonation level. The roastiness and dry finish makes this a slow sipper, but it is still very drinkable.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”Also a good beer overall, that maybe was a bit too roasty (lacked some caramel or toffee tones in the middle) and dry for my taste. The beer definitely gets better as it warms up, and I think the beer was a bit too cold when I had it.”]

    Homebrew – Brandy Vanilla Porter

    Today I brewed another batch of beer, and this time I decided to try something completely different to the Pale Ales and India Pale Ales I’ve usually been brewing. I decided to brew a variation of Denny Coon’s Bourbon Vanilla Porter, where I substitute the Bourbon with Jaloviina (a type of cut Brandy), since the brew is for my (Jaloviina-loving) orchestra’s 50 year anniversary. Below is the recipe, the values I measured, and some pictures from the day.

    Brandy Vanilla Porter

    Batch Size: 19L

    4.5 kg Maris Otter Pale Malt
    1.0 kg Munich Malt
    0.6 kg Brown Malt
    0.5 kg Chocolate Malt
    0.45 kg Crystal Malt 120L
    0.25 kg Crystal Malt 40L

    20 g Warrior (18% AA) 60 min
    34 g East Kent Goldings (5% AA) 10 min

    0.3 g Protafloc 15 min


    30 g French Medium Toast Oak Chips (soaked in Jaloviina) Secondary
    2 dl *** Jaloviina Seconday
    2 Vanilla Beans Secondary

    Targeted OG 1.078, but I ended up with 1.067 (17.1 brix)
    Targeted FG 1.016

    IBU ~38
    EBC ~80

    The malt has been measured. I really need to get a bucket of some sort for the malt.

    The grain bed after the mash. I mashed at around 65.6 C, so that the beer doesn’t finish too sweet.

    Weighing the aroma hops.

    Adding the bittering hops to the boiling wort.

    Post-Boil sample. As you can see, the color of the beer will be very dark.

    The beer is now safely fermenting in the fridge, which is set to keep the beer at around 16.5 C.

    Weekend beers

    Had some different beers this weekend, some of them very good. First up was a Dixie (by Dixie Brewing), which is an American Lager that was quite tasteless, but very easy to drink. Would probably make a good thirst quencher in the summer, but otherwise it was nothing special.

    Next up was an Anchor Porter, which is an American Porter. The beer poured very dark brown/black with a tan head. Flavour was sweet, roasted, and chocolatey, and the beer had a thick creamy feel. Not a big fan of darker beers, but this one was really tasty.

    Next up was a Bitter & Twisted (by Harviestoun Brewery), which is an English IPA. The beer poured a golden color, and had a very citrusy (lemon) aroma. The taste was malty with hints of grassy and citrusy hoppiness. A tasty English-style ale.

    Then it was time for a Sierra Nevada Hoptimum from Oluthuone Kaisla. This huge (10.4% ABV, 100 IBU, 660 ml bottle) Imperial IPA is a limited edition release from Sierra Nevada, hopped with Magnum, Simcoe, Citra, Chinook, and a new unnamed hop variety. The beer poured an amber color with a minimal head. The beer was full of fruity, piney and citrusy aroma and flavour, balanced with a sweet and malty backbone. A fantastic beer, that is one of my absolute favorites. Unfortunately the beer is limited, hard to find (only available in Kaisla), was expensive, and was a bit big to drink on my own.

    Next was a visit to Olutravintola Pikkulintu, where I had a Pikkulintu Triple IPA (brewed at Grassroots Brewery). A full review of it will be posted later.

    Finally I had a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, which was a bit fresher than the last one I had last weekend, but it still disappointed me a bit. Almost no hop aroma, and taste was lacking as well. I remember it being much better. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky receiving another one that has gone a bit bad.