Saturday, June 9, 2012

Brew Day: 1700's Brown Malt Porter

Following up the last part of my historical porters, I finally got around to making a batch of 18th century porter with the straw-kilned brown malt I had made a few weeks ago. As I couldn't find a complete recipe with all of the brewing details - boil times, temps, gyles, and all that - I basically mixed and matched the information I did find to make one recipe. In short, this means a single infusion mash of 100% brown malt at 156F - to keep the fermentability in line with the rather poor attenuation of those early porters (60-65%) - and bittered with some old fuggles for around 45-50 IBU for 90 minute boil. As for the diastatic potential of the malt, I was initially worried that I had over roasted the brown malt and destroyed much of the grain's potential. I knew I couldn't let the grain interior get too dark and at the time I thought I did a good enough job. However, as the grain sat around, the interior turned from a light color to a ruddy brown. It wasn't until I did a mini mash with the grain in a french press coffee maker that I found out the grain would convert... albeit slowly.

I estimated the extract potential of the brown malt to be somewhere around 1.032 per pound and that turned out be about right after a two hour mash. However, the color of the wort (pre-boil) is MUCH darker than I would have ever imagined. Considering that I only used the straw-kilned brown malt, the wort is considerably darker in color than the historical sources indicate. I probably kilned my this brown malt darker than they would have done so in the 1700's, but I don't see why black colored porters wouldn't have been possible in those days. Lastly, the flavor of the unfermented wort is very nice. There is little to no smokiness, just a hint of a campfire smell, and the flavor is of an intense dry-cocoa powder. My friend stopped by while while I was brewing and mentioned that the flavor reminded him of a malty hot chocolate. I have high hopes for this one. Lastly, I would like to extend a big thank-you to Ron Pattinson for sharing so much of his work with the homebrewing community and Ben, aka "Fuggledog", from the U.K who has been a great source of insight into making historical brown malts.

1700' Porter : Historical Porter                                                                                                   
Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 3.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.0
Anticipated OG: 1.060
Anticipated FG: 1.015
Anticipated SRM: 30-35 (?)
Anticipated IBU: 45
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

100.0% - 8.00 lbs. Straw-Kilned Brown Malt

1.00 oz. Fuggles @ 90 min for 35 IBU
1.00 oz. Fuggles @ 30 min for 10 IBU
1.00 oz. Fuggles @ flameout

Yeast: WY1882 Thames Valley II
Mash 156F for 120 min.
Brewed 8 June 


  1. I'm very excited by straw-kilned brown malt. It seems that it's definitely different in flavour from wood-kilned.

    Glad that my endless obsessing about beer history has been useful to someone.

  2. Wow, very exciting. Can't wait to see how this turns out. The wort looks fantastic. Funny about the colour - I had the same thing with the last batch (though made over oak), and the resulting beer was as dark as Guinness, although that wasn't my intention. Looking forward to your notes and pics of this when it's ready!




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