Meanwhile, I've cracked open a bottle of the porter that I brewed several months ago and it is still quite good. A fine aroma of toasted malt and chocolate with more chocolate on the palate and surprising dryness. Hops kept very much in check for more of an English-style porter. This porter is just shy of sweet but I quite like it. Not everything needs to be hoppy, but a little bit of a hop nose might have been nice.
Back to the brown: brewing from the kit worked well. I put the grains in the muslin bag that came with the kit and tied it to one of the handles on my Gigawort so it stay off the bottom of the kettle. I feared the the liquid malt extract in the kit might sink to the bottom and trigger the run dry sensor in the Gigawort -- and it did -- even though I killed the heat and let it sit for five minutes. Adding the dry extract went fine and got the kettle going again. Putting the recipe into Beersmith I found it to be a bit too bitter for an English brown so I adjusted the hop schedule, adding the second ounce of Willamette hops at five minutes left in the boil. I also decided to added on piece or one "star" of star anise at the end of the boil for a little complexity. I chilled the wort with my copper immersion chiller and got the wort down into the 60s in about a half hour. I pitched the yeast into 65 degree wort about an hour ago and the temperature of the wort has already risen to 71, so I have my Brewjacket Immersion Pro set to 64 as I'm afraid that the heat produced by fermentation could push the wort temperature above it's recommended maximum of 74. Cloud logging is working with my Tilt so I'll be able to monitor the temperature remotely. I won't be able to adjust the temperature remotely but just knowing what's going on will be comforting.