Friday, December 07, 2007

Pontificating on porter, pigs and cleanliness




After a few batches that seemed to be infected, I got up the courage to brew again a few weeks ago, but not before replacing some of my equipment and thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing it. The only equipment I replaced was my bottling wand, which I really didn't replace, but got rid of altogether. Now I'm just using a piece of hose that I fit onto my bottling bucket. I cleaned all my equipment with B-Brite then sanitized some parts with One Step and others with a dilute solution of Iodophor.

I brewed a spiced porter and it seems to have turned out okay. The spices I used included licorice and juniper berries. I added an ounce of licorice pieces with about 15 minutes left in the boil along with an ounce of crushed (dried) Juniper berries. The licorice pieces didn't really dissolve like I thought they would, so I fished them out with a slotted spoon at the end of boil. I didn't strain the wort since I wanted the fermenting wort to be in contact with the berries. The other ingredient included four pounds of Alexander's Pale liquid malt extract, one pound of Munton's dry malt extract, one pound of chocolate malt, one pound of Victory malt, a half pound of 150L Crystal and a half pound of brown sugar. The hops were all Simcoe, with a half-ounce added at the start of the 60-minute boil and a quarter-ounce at 30 minutes. This mixture was fermented with Wyeast 1028XL. Fermentation started in about eight hours. The wort fermented for about eight days in my primary fermenter, then I transferred it directly to the bottling bucket. The beer was packaged in one party pig and 12 22-ounce bottles. I added a half ounce of dry Simcoe hops to the pig.

So far, after about three weeks, the beer tastes good. I've just tasted it from the party pig so far and the dry hops are pretty evident. There's a definite pine scent from the hops that is noticeable in the nose and on the palate. Beyond that, the beer has a roasted coffee flavor mixed with an almost burnt caramel sweetness, followed by the sting of black licorice and then a rather dry, but licorice-accented finish. A rather delicious porter, that is rather sessionable, which is sort of my requirement for "pig" beer. There's something about beers poured from a Party Pig; I think it has to do with how the beer is pushed through a diffuser when it's tapped. I've noticed that the pig makes my beers (especially the darker ales) taste like they've been tapped from the cask. The carbonation is very smooth much like in naturally carbonated, cask-conditioned ale. Sometimes, about half-way through the pig starts pouring mostly foam, but waiting for the foam to settle is a small price to pay for a compact method of having cask-conditioned ale at home!

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