Monday, February 22, 2016

Czech-Baltic Porter

There are some brewers who see almost all of the possible drinkable beers neatly fenced in by established styles. Most on a continuum like mild, to brown ale, to porter, to stout with no spaces between. The only places not bounded by styles being the willful targeting of gaps, for example a Pilsner dyed black (and even then that’s just a schwarzbier...). I see much more fertile ground where new styles and recipes are waiting to spring forth!

One of my favorite ways to come up with unique beers is to imagine what sort of recipe the brewers from one country might brew if they wanted to make their own version of a style from another country. A few examples have been my Scottish Stout, New Zealand Saison, and India (American) Wit. This isn’t as silly as it might sound because Flemish red, Munich helles, schwarzbier, and American pale ale each grew from brewers taking a style from somewhere else and adapting it to their local ingredients, equipment, and tastes!

This batch is the big brother to tmavé pivo. It was from the same mash, but had a higher proportion of first runnings, a longer boil, higher bittering rate, and a cool rather than cold lager-yeast fermentation. It is my re-imagining of a Baltic porter brewed by a Czech brewery!

Czech-tic Porter

Appearance – Not as pretty as the tmavé, head retention and chill haze are worse. Luckily it’s a dark beer which means it's still pleasant on the eyes, but I’m not sure how two beers from the same mash and fermented with the same yeast could differ so much.

Smell – Clean malty aroma. Fresh spent coffee grounds, whole wheat toast, and some caramel especially as it warms. No hop aroma. Yeast comes across clean despite a mid-60s F fermentation temperature peak, in line with the baffling Brulosophy experiments (the third of which I participated in).

Taste – Flavor is similar to the aroma, that Munich-like (Weyermann Bohemian Dark) breadiness comes through, but a little less rounded than the classic flavor of bock and dunkel. The roast is subdued even for a Baltic porter, coffee ice cream, milk chocolate, and subtle dark fruit - more plum than raisin. Drier than I expected it to be, maybe thanks to the good attenuation and the more substantial bittering charge. Again, a clean fermentation behind all of that malty goodness.

Mouthfeel – Medium-full body, medium carbonation. Feels substantially wintery, without being sticky.

Drinkability & Notes – A pleasantly substantial speciální tmavé-porter 18°! I will say it doesn’t exhibit the depth and complexity of my favorite Baltic porter (Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique), but it also isn’t nearly that strong at 6.8% ABV compared to 10%. The Czech influence comes in in the softer palate, less assertive roast, and firmer bitterness.

Czech-tic Porter Recipe

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.34
OG: 1.075
SRM: 33.1
IBU: 49.1
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73 %
Wort Boil Time: 110 Minutes

51.9% - 8.00 lbs. Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner
29.6% - 4.50 lbs. Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Dark
13.0% - 2.00 lbs. Weyermann CaraMunich II
3.7% - 0.56 lbs. Weyermann Carafa II
1.9% - 0.28 lbs. Weyermann Carafa Special II

2.00 oz. Sterling (Pellet, 7.50% AA) @ 55 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min

White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest - 15 min @ 126F
Sacch I - 30 min @ 145F (direct)
Sacch II - 20 min @ 158F (direct)

Two stage starter made a week in advance (1.25 L to 3.5 L). Second stage was mini-mash of Bohemian Dark. Crashed in fridge prior to brew day.

Brewed 10/25/15

Note: adjusted the amounts above so that this recipe could be brewed as a single batch.

5 g CaCl added to the filtered DC tap water for the mash. Started with only Bohemian grains. Added specialty malts as I heated to the second Sacch rest to ensure conversion, but reduce intensity/astringency.

Collected 8 gallons of first runnings at 1.055 for the Baltic Porter. Chilled to 58 F. OG 1.075. Shook to aerate. Pitched 1/2 starter. Left at 60F to ferment.

11/2/15 Up to 65F.

11/3/15 Gravity down to 1.028 (63% AA). Hoping for a bit closer to 1.022.

11/6/15 Down to 1.024 (68%, 6.8% ABV). Solid, malty, sweetish, coffee. Likely won't fall much more.

11/7/15 Into a flushed keg and into the fridge at 60F for the slow ramp-down. Looked pretty yeasty and there was a dense persistent krausen. 1 extra liter into a growler with 1.25 tsp of sugar.

2/22/16 Tasting notes above.


Unknown said...

I'm not sure I understand how you write your recipes when you split mashes between two beers. Am I understanding correctly that you did one mash to make this beer and the tmave pivo? If so, why are the weights of grain different in the two recipes? Or is there some way that you are modifying the recipe to be that which a brewer would use if she only brewed that one beer out of the mash?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Exactly, I tweak the amounts so that they could be brewed as is as a single beer. Honestly I'd not suggest anyone brew my beers (or anyone else's as is). Adjust as needed to suit your efficiency, volume, system etc.

Alistair Reece said...

I wonder how similar it would be to Pardubicky Porter from a town about 110km from Prague:

Not sure about the legal definition now in the Czech Republic but it used to be the case that a dark beer brewed to above 19 Plato was considered a 'porter', which was pretty much only 2 beers, Pardubicky Porter and Primator Double, which is brewed to 24 Plato and a wonderful night cap kind of beer.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Mike! I agree about not brewing anyone else's beer. I'm incapable of leaving a recipe alone. I have just never done a parti-gyle, so I'm not sure about total amounts of grain, etc. to reach certain gravities.

sziszi said...

Czechs are not specialists in the Baltic Porter. Polish Baltic Porters are considered the best in the world

Alistair Reece said...


There are plenty of Czech dark lagers that would meet the definition of 'Baltic Porter', many of which are world class beers. Kout na Sumave 18 for example.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Kristen England mentioned the same beer on Facebook. Haven't had it, but tasting notes make it sound roastier than mine. Maybe more directly inspired by English porters of 125 years ago when it was first brewed?

The whole batch was brewed with 27 lbs of grain. You should end up with similar efficiency to a standard batch, you're just dividing the first runnings and second runnings to get beers of two different strengths. You can always mix some wort back and forth to raise the smaller beer or lower the big beer if desired.

CRUSADER1612 said...


I don't have access to bohemian Dark - Would Munich Work?
also, I was thinking about subbing outthe Carafa malts with Pale Chocolate and Dark Chocolate (they're local NZ Malts by Gladfield Mlting co in NZ. They have a website if your interested)
what are your thoughts??

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Munich would certainly work, that was actually my plan before I was accidentally shipped a sack of the Bohemian Dark.

The dark malts though will really change the character of the beer, make it even more roasty and porter-like. Look for something debittered or dehusked for the Carafa Special portion. If not, consider cold steeping the gains to soften their flavor.

Let me know how it turns out!