Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smoked Rye Baltic Porter Tasting

A Baltic porter with some smoked malt and flaked rye was the last in my series of four beers with Wyeast's Kolsch strain. I drew inspiration from a alder wood smoked porter I brewed a couple years back, and a Scandinavian Imperial porter I brewed four years ago.

The plan was to brew something that had a big smoke character; the aroma is there but despite 6 lbs of Weyermann smoked malt the flavor isn't as strong as I was aiming for.  One of the big problems with using commercial smoked malt is that the flavor it imparts fades as it ages (and there is no easy way to know how fresh it is).  Now that I have a smoker, once the weather gets nicer, I'll find the time to put it to use on a few pounds of malt .


A Snifter of Smoked Rye Blatic Porter.Appearance – Deep brown, bordering on black. Held at a angle some amber light shines through. The big tan head exhibits good retention, lasting almost till the bottom of the glass. Nice looking porter.

Smell – Woodsy smoke, hints of bacon/sausage (but not nearly as strong as something like a Schlenkerla). There is a freshness to the aroma, it has a hint of herbal hops, and lacks those dark fruit flavors that I've come to expect in a big dark beer. Some dark chocolate comes through, but it isn't what I would call roasty.

Taste – Smooth mellow coffee/cocoa roast. No harsh or acrid roasted notes, the dehusked Carafa really did a nice job. The smoke seems less intense in the flavor than it was in the aroma. Sort of a bitter-sweet balance, it may not stay that way as it ages and the bitterness drops off (we'll see). The kolsch yeast did a good job keeping clean and out of the way, not as fruity as it was in the lower gravity beers.

Mouthfeel – Full body without being syrupy. The flaked rye really adds its character here. Moderate-low carbonation, just the way I like a big/dark beer.

Drinkability & Notes – For a relatively young (about 4 month old) high gravity beer it is nicely rounded and mellow. The smoke has come out more as the beer sat in the bottle for a couple months and cleaned up. It isn't as rich or complex as I expected, but that may come with a bit more age.


nikkimaija said...

Sounds tasty, right up my alley. I just brewed a dark lager with flaked rye & dehusked Carafa. I think smoked malt sounds like the perfect tweak to the recipe. And maybe trying the Kolsch yeast as my fermentation control is kind of minimal. Thanks for taking the time to experiment and share!

kcschmitt said...

I made a smoked Imperial porter with 6 lbs of rauchmalt and the aroma is there subtly only comes out when warm. I was disappointed I expected a much bigger aroma and flavor with such a large percentage of Rauchmalt. I too believe my malt was old and am planning on smoking myself. If you have any tips one smoking malt I'd greatly appreciate some guidance.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I still haven't smoked my own malt, although I recently brewed a roggenbier with malt my friend Scott smoked over cherry wood (malt dampened with distilled water, spread onto screen, low fire). If you haven't picked it up Smoked Beer by Ray Daniels and Geoff Larson has a lot of DIY advice on smoking malt.