Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alderwood Smoked Imperial Porter

I'm getting ready to really jump back into brewing beer after taking most of the summer off, so I thought I'd post one from the archives that turned out well. This was my first attempt at a smoked beer, and it certainly lived up to my expectations.

It was a relatively straight forward process as I didn't smoke the malt myself. I bought alderwood smoked malt from Folsom Brewmeister, which sells malt that they smoke over alder, cherry, and maple. If you are interested in smoking your own malt I would highly recommend reading Smoked Beers by Ray Daniels and Jeff Larson which goes into the process in depth.

The base porter recipe for this beer is pretty standard . I based it loosely on Jamil's Smoked Porter recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, and the recipe details for Alaskan Smoked Porter in Smoked Beers. The twist was that the basemalt, crystal, and dark malts were all from the UK.

This is a beer where I did pretty extensive water adjustment because of both the dark color and the smoked malt. Chlorophenols are made when you have phenols (like those produced by yeast or smoke) and a form of chlorine (either from your water or bleach sanitizer). Since this beer was so high in phenols I decided to take out insurance against chlorine by using bottled spring water. To help with the dark color I added a good deal of bicarbonate in the form of baking soda and chalk. The dark malts are acidic so you need a base (carbonate) to cancel them out, this helps the mash stay at the right pH, and also prevents the beer from getting acrid.

The only real hurdle for someone trying to copy this recipe is that smoked malt is highly variable and loses smokiness as it ages. The malt I used was pretty fresh (~1 month since smoking), so if your malt is older I would suggest swapping out some of the golden promise for more smoked malt. You could certainly just use Weyermann's Rachmalt, but I would not suggest using peat smoked malt at a similar level as it is much more aggressive.

Tasting 9/27/08

Appearance – Creamy one-finger tan head covering an inky-black opaque beer. Good head retention, but not much lacing. From the color is looks more like an imperial stout than a porter.

Smell – Distant campfire, light roasted coffee, bread. I don't get the distinct smoked salmon (varietal alder smoke) aroma that I get from Alaskan Smoked Porter, but it also doesn't have the smoked sausage/ham aroma that many German Rauchbiers have. It had some hop aroma a few months ago, but that is gone after 6 months in the bottle.

Taste – Smooth with a long dark chocolate finish. Smokiness is not as apparent in the taste as it is in the nose, just a supporting roll. Moderate bitterness fights against the residual sweetness. Well balanced and drinkable for a big smoked porter, but it isn't particularly complex.

Mouthfeel
Tastes a bit thin for such a big beer (despite the highish FG). The carbonation might be just a bit higher than ideal for a big rich beer, but it is still medium in the grand scheme of things. There is a hint of ethanol warming as the beer warms up, but it is pretty smooth for a 7%+ beer.

Drinkability & Notes – Certainly a balanced beer with none of the individual components (smoke, roast, sweet, bitter) dominating. If I brewed it again I would probably increase the smoked malt and add some dark crystal for some dark fruit character, but other than that there isn't much I would alter.

Alderwood Smoked Porter

Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 3.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.09
Anticipated OG: 1.071
Anticipated SRM: 42.8
Anticipated IBU: 47.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62 %
Wort Boil Time: 100 Minutes

Grain
------
4.50 lbs. Golden Promise
2.75 lbs. Alderwood Smoked Malt
1.00 lbs. Crystal 55L
1.00 lbs. Munich Malt
0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt
0.34 lbs. Black Patent Malt

Hops
------
0.75 oz. Whole Centennial 8.60% AA @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Whole Willamette 5.40% AA @ 30 min.
0.50 oz. Whole Willamette 5.40% AA @ 15 min.
0.50 oz. Whole Willamette 5.40% AA @ 0 min.

Yeast
-----
WYeast 1056 American Ale/Chico

Water Profile
-------------
Calcium(Ca): 66.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 9.8 ppm
Sodium(Na): 110.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 39.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 142.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 241.0 ppm

Mash Schedule
---------------
75 minutes @ 154

Notes
-----
Brewed 3/16/08 by myself

Alderwood smoked malt from Folsom Brewmeister. I used it about 1 month after it was smoked. Started with Fox Point Spring Water. Mixed 5 g baking soda, 3 g chalk, 2 g CaCl, and 1 g kosher salt, added half to the boil, half to the sparge.

Batch sparged and collected 5.5 gallons of 1.044 wort.

After the boil, I chilled down to 68 and strained out the hops I was left with about 3 gallons to which I added half of a 2 qrt yeast starter I had made that morning. The starter had gotten pretty active, no idea what the cell count was though.

Put into the fridge at 62 degrees, fermentation looked like it started quickly, but it was probably just residual foam from the 60 seconds of pure O2. The next morning I boosted the temperature to 64 to make sure the beer fermented well while I was down in Florida for the week.

3/21/08 Still a pretty big krausen when I returned, I upped the temp to 68 to help the yeast to finish off fermentation.

3/25/08 Krausen almost gone. Gravity down to 1.018 (75% AA, 7% ABV). Good balance of sweet, roasty, and smokey.

3/27/08 Lowered temp to 62 to get the yeast to start dropping out.

4/10/08 Dropped temp to 50.

4/11/08 Bottled with 2 3/8 oz of cane sugar. Gravity still around 1.018, smokiness has subsided a bit, but it is still tasting nice.

Carbonated quickly, smoke was milder than I expected, but still prominent.

5/10/08 Scored a 37 in The Spirit of Free Beer, most suggested that it was balanced but could have been smokier.

6/28/08 Side-by-side with a 2007 Alaskan Smoked Porter mine is a shade darker with a darker head, slightly less smoke, fresher/hoppier, and not as much dark fruit. If they were the same age they would probably be even closer.

9/12/09 2nd Tasting, with a much better photo...

1 comment:

Robert said...

I read the topic of your post and thought "sounds like an Alaskan Smoked Porter clone..." Then I got to the last of your notes and literally laughed out loud!

Nice recipe, man. I'm looking forward to seeing next year's tasting notes on this beer. =)

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