Monday, August 26, 2013

East India Porter, Imperial Tasting

After a few months of aging and many more samples enjoyed in the name of testing, I finally put this beer on tap and boy, it is sure to cause problems. I've got more friends waiting for a growler fill of this stuff as there is beer to go around. I guess I'll just have to keep it all for myself! If you are not familiar with the premise of this beer, basically what I did was to take a historical East India Porter recipe - one that makes a fantastic beer by the way - and brew it at Imperial Stout strength with American hops. Given how well the original version turned out, I figured upping the gravity by twenty points and subbing the EKG for something a bit fruitier wouldn't be half bad. I am very happy to say this beer has turned out as well as I had hoped and it is sure to re-brewed in another form sometime soon.

Barclay Perkins 1859 EI : Keeping Brown Stout

Appearance - Pours an inky and opaque black color with a small tan head that has some retention.

Aroma - Piercing citrus and grapefruity hops enveloped in a blanket of chocolate liqueur, coffee, and cocoa. There is little subtlety here, the aroma jumps out of the glass and bludgeons your senses.

Taste - Bitter and resinous grapefruity hops, followed by an intense chocolate and coffee liqueur character that completely overwhelms everything else. Kahlua, espresso, burnt toast, and lightly roasted malt flavors too. The amount of bitterness and hop character in the beer is very high, giving the fleeting impression of a Black IPA, but the hoppiness is quickly smothered by layers of chocolaty malt character.
Mouthfeel - Silky and full bodied with low carbonation. The beer finishes medium-dry.

Drinkability & Notes - What to say? I could have easily drunk this beer within a week of kegging, it tasted so good, but nearly three months of aging has only made it better. This is one of the best 'big' beers that I have brewed and the recipe and process is well worth repeating. As for taste comparisons, this beer has same intensity of flavor as many craft brewed Imperial Stouts (Great Divide's Yeti comes to mind) although this beer is a tad lighter and nimbler in character; it packs a wallop, but the flavor doesn't linger with the same oily heaviness.

Additional Thoughts:

I was worried that the use of C-hops in such a beer was going to be too much, but I really like the hop character where it is now. The hoppiness is big and decidedly "American," but unlike many highly hopped dark beers, the hops and roast character in this one don't clash. The beer simply lacks those acidic roast flavors. Also, these Centennial-Type hops are also very potent, considering how little I used and the amount of aroma/flavor I got from them.

Brown malt. There is something about using 20+% brown malt in these recipes that just makes a world of difference. I swear I get more chocolate character using brown malt at these precentages than I do if I were to use a similar amount of regular chocolate malt.

 8.5% ABV, 75 IBU, Wyeast 1056 American Ale. Recipe Here 


  1. What you've actually brewed there is Keeping Brown Stout.

    I personally can't stand the term Imperial Porter. Imperial Stout is the correct name. Though this beer is actually too weak for an Imperial Stout. That would be over 1100ยบ.

    1. Duly noted. Although it is a shame there are only a handful of people who will have any clue to what a "Keeping Brown Stout" designation actually means.

      Thanks for the recipe!

  2. How much of a difference do you feel the GP base made? What changes would you anticipate from using MO instead?

    1. I can confidently say that UK and continental pale malts do make a 'richer' tasting beer in these types of recipes - certainly more so than US/CA 2-row - although I don't know if using MO would make much of a difference over the GP. The specialty malts pretty well cover up any base malt flavor and I imagine the particular MO character would get lost. That said, if I had a ton of MO and didn't have to pay a premium for it, I'd certainly use it in these types of recipes.

    2. Your Blog inspired me to try Brown Malt (TF&S). I used 3% in a Dark Mild recently and found the malt dominated pretty much all aspects of the ale. It mellowed considerably over a few weeks but never to the point where it was "supporting" the beer, it was always front and center. I never got chocolate either, just a strong roasted character, almost too much so.

      My first inclination would be to scale back in future recipes but your comment above, about increasing the % to enhance chocolate flavours, got me thinking if I should be going the other way and increasing the amount?

      I have a Porter brewday on the way and for the moment, it doesn't include any Brown Malt (I have Amber too but can't figure out what to use it in). I'd really love some Chocolate notes, what would you recommend? More Brown Malt?

    3. Glad to hear you gave it a go, although brown malt is indeed strongly flavored stuff. It does take a while to mellow out in beers that contain few other roasted malts and/or those that are of low gravity, and it can easily go from having just enough character in a beer to too much. I have also found that water/yeast really impacts the percieved flavor of the stuff... high attenuating, tart, and minerally yeasts can have issues with it, as the yeast thins out the malt character and the brown malt dominates or comes across as acrid and bitter. I generally try to use fruitier and less attenuative yeasts in my milds/brown ales that are using brown malt.

      However, when used in large quanities and at high gravity, the brown malt flavor dominates pretty much everything.

      In small amounts, I wouldn't say I get much pure chocolate character from brown malt, mostly just light roast, coffee, and a burnt toast type of thing. But, at high amounts it certainly does impart a chocolate-dry cocao character that is really unique. I wouldn't dump a ton of brown malt into a medium gravity porter for the sake of getting chocolate flavor. Pale chocolate is another nice malt, similar to brown in some ways, but certainly more chocolaty by itself. It pairs very well with brown malt in simple recipes.

    4. Thanks for the feedback. I have some Pale Chocolate (TF&S) in the pantry as well, it was part of the Brown/Amber malt order. For the aforementioned Mild, I used WLP023. I didn't get a noticeable mineral character (I've read your previous posting on Burton yeast), lots of fruit though.

      I used the Pale Chocolate in another, most recent Mild to the tune of 3% with MO making up the base and a healthy dose of Munton's 150 (57L). Jury's still out as it's conditioning. I used a repitch of WLP005

      I plan the Porter to be in the 1.060 range. I may sub out a small amount of (Muntons) Chocolate malt in favour a Brown/Pale Chocolate combination. Not entirely, just a few percentage points retaining a portion of the Muntons Chocolate and a touch of Roast Barley for good measure.


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