Batch 1: Brown Porter

We started our homebrewing adventure with a Brown Porter ingredient kit from All tools were cleaned and sanitized using StarSan beforehand. I began with 3 gallons of water in our 3.5 gallon stock pot. I placed three separate cheesecloth bags of grain (Chocolate, English, and Crystal Malts) in the pot and applied heat to 170 degrees. We then took the pot off of the heat and continued steeping until we were steeping for 30 minutes. We then removed the grain bags and turned the heat back on, bringing the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, we removed the pot from heat and added a 7lb bag of light malt extract, stirring while we added it. We returned this to the heat, brought it back to a boil, and added 1.5oz of cascade hops. We proceeded to boil this for 40 minutes. I experienced a few boil overs and had the lid mostly or all of the way on for about 10 minutes of this. By the end of 40 minutes, we had 2.5 gallons of water left in the pot, and I got the bright idea to add more water (bringing the volume to 3 gal), which promptly boiled over when returned to a boil. I found the right temperature to keep the liquid from boiling over again, and I let this boil for another 20 minutes, lid off. I added 1 oz of cascade flavoring hops with 1 minute left in the boil. Once this was complete, we filled the sanitized carboy with 2 gal of spring water while the brew kettle was cooling in a sink full of running cold water. Once below 130 degrees, we transferred the wort to the carboy, topped it off with some more spring water, and left the carboy to cool in the garage. I then prepared the yeast in warm (sanitized) water at ~100 degrees (per directions). The carboy continued to (not really) cool in the garage for 2.5 hours (sitting around 95 degrees most of that time). At that point, I applied an ice bath, and the wort was down to about 80 degrees after another half hour, at which time I pitched the yeast, set the bung and installed the airlock.

Things I think I probably did wrong: boil with the lid on, add more water towards the end of the boiling (contributing to boil-over), not adding the Whirlfloc, not having a proper funnel for wort transfer, not cooling the wort quickly enough, and probably not aerating the wort enough.

Things I will definitely do next time: brew with the lid off, chill the diluting water before I mix it with the wort in the fermenter, rely on more diluting water rather than adding water to the developing wort, add the Whirlfloc before the boil is finished, use a proper funnel for wort transfer, and use an ice bath to bring the wort quickly down to yeast-pitching temperature.

OG: 1.052

FG: 1.015

UPDATE: The wort began fermenting sometime overnight, formed a nice krausen, and was bubbling away through Wednesday. Wednesday evening, the krausen was beginning to settle.

UPDATE 3/17/2012: The krausen fell about a week ago, and the airlock hasn’t seen activity in at least a few days. The fermenter (6gal plastic carboy) has been in the garage, which is not well insulated, and I was a little worried that the temperature fluctuation (between 50 and 70 degrees) over the past 2 weeks might prematurely kill the fermentation, however it seems to me that things have gone OK. I checked the FG, and it was about 1.015 (>70% attenuation), so we bottled. I first cleaned and de-labeled the bottles by letting them soak in a sink full of water with 1 scoop of OxiClean. I then scrubbed them with a bottle brush, rinsed them with tap water, and soaked them in StarSan solution. I boiled the priming sugar in 2c of water for 5 minutes (per directions), then added this to the bottling bucket before siphoning the beer from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. I filled 2 Russian River growlers, (29) 12oz bottles, and (1) 22oz bottle. One of the growlers got ~3/4 in head space, the other ~1.5 in head space. All of the bottles got ~3/4 – 1 in head space. We tasted the two samples used to measure gravity, and the beer was tasty 🙂 Nutty, with a bit of a coffee finish, and a little sweet. Lets see how it tastes in a few weeks.

UPDATE 3/31/2012: The brown porter has been bottle conditioning for just about 2 weeks. Today, Sarah and I cracked the first bottle to give it a taste. I have to say we were both pleasantly surprised 🙂 It had some characteristics of a robust porter, though not quite as robust. It was full bodied had some hints of the bittering and aroma hops that were used, and some elements of the dark malts came through to give it a complexity that was a bit more than we expected from our first homebrew. I’d place it half way between Anchor’s Breckle’s Brown and the Big Sky Bobo’s Robust Porter, though not quite as complex as either. Generally a good brown porter with some substance. Good carbonation (bubbles, and a very light head).

11/7/12: cracked open a bottle from the closet. It was a gusher (I’m guessing I bottled a little too early), but when the head fell, it was all toasty, caramel, a little molasses, and tasty 🙂

Update 2/17/13: cracked open a 22 that has been sitting in Zach’s closet since bottling day. Plentiful light-brown head, balanced and easy-drinking with a bit of coffee at the front, and some malty chocolate on the finish. Delicious!!! Gotta brew this one again, esp if I can get an AG version.