Red Eye Coffee Porter

The nuptials are over, and do you know what means? Time for beer! A special beer from Two Brothers, part of their Retro Series. As part of two Brother’s 15th Anniversary in 2012 they re-released 15 of their earlier beers. The Red Eye Coffee Porter was first brewed in the Spring of 2009 and due to popular acclaim was temporarily brought back in the fall of 2009. Now it is back as part of this special offering. It is a great example of American Beer recipe ingenuity. Take some rye, which is popular in German Brews, take a Porter from England, Americanize it, and throw in some coffee beans, not technically traditional in Porter, but we don’t take kindly to tradition in these parts.

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The days of summer are ending and that means no more ice cream shops, but fear not, take a sniff of this beer and you will be taken right back there. Take a sip. Yes I know. You still think that you are in the ice cream shop. I had to bring you back to reality, but you aren’t. Your probably sitting at home, but you are drinking Red Eye Coffee Porter and that is good.

You would kind of expect more bitterness from so dark a beer, but it is a big beer and the hops are downplayed, but as the beer warms up, the bitterness along with the spiciness from the rye really comes forward and rounds it out nicely.

The carbonation is very low, which is immediately noticeable as soon as you start pouring. The off-white head is small and does not last long. The lacing does not last on the glass. On the other hand, the body is big, real big. All of this contributes to the milk-shake like consistency of the beer. The color is of very dark brown, virtually black, and no light can make it through. This beer is thoroughly enjoyable, and I’m wishing that the beer wasn’t a limited release.

What should you pair this with you might ask? I paired it with the Great Gatsby movie, but your morning Wheaties (assuming you don’t have anywhere else to go after a 9.2% ABV beer)  would be an equally appropriate for this Coffee Porter.

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Kona Brewery Pipeline Porter and Chocolate Cake

With a name like Kona Brewery, you’ expect some quality coffee in this Porter. Believe me, coffee is exactly what you get. The label claims that there is Kona Coffee in the beer, one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Only coffee that is grown on Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii is allowed be called Kona Coffee. Coffee, like hops and grapes, has terroir. This means that the location and conditions the plant grows in affects the taste and aroma of the plant. I have had some pretty good estate coffee from Hawaii, but this is probably the first time I have ever had real Kona Coffee.

The aroma is of coffee and toasty maltiness. If you closed your eyes and took a sip you might think that somebody switched out a mocha coffee for your beer. It has just the right amount of sweetness with the perfect amount of bitterness on the back-end. Exactly like a good mocha coffee. It is a very smooth beer with medium-low carbonation and a large mouthfeel. It essentially feels like smooth chocolate milk.

It went perfectly with a deeply rich chocolate cake. There is a reason coffee goes great with cake. It has to do with roasting. Coffee, chocolate, and malted barley  all have very similar flavors due to the similar process each goes through to get to their edible states. The cake was more fudge than your average birthday cake. A sweeter cake might have been better with something like a milk stout, but this cake was perfect with this bittersweet treat.

The Pale Rider Porter

Because death needs something robust to get him through the end times.

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The winter is in full force, and my second beer of the season will be a bit bigger than my earlier Christmas Mild. I really like porters, and since I have never brewed one before, I figured that it was time. Porter was probably the first industrialized beer in the world. In 18th century England, patrons used to ask the bartender to mix the various beers they had in certain proportions to get the taste they want, sort of like a Black and Tan today. Legend had it that Porter (or originally called entire) was first brewed as an equivalent to a popular combination called “three threads”.

At least that is the legend I originally learned  from the Brewmaster Table, but according to Wikipedia, that story arose due to some misinterpretation of brewing terms in a famous history of porter written by John Feltham. It actually started out as a more aged version of the earlier brown beer. The first style of beer aged at the brewery itself, ready to drink out the door, and the first beer produced on an industrial scale. It was very popular with the street and river porters and the name stuck. Eventually porter fell out of favor, and all but the stout porter, or simply Stout died out. Even breweries like Guiness, now famous for its Stout, eventually dropped the beer it started with. It wasn’t until 1978, when craft beer was emerging again in the  UK, that the style started to come back.

What exactly makes a robust porter robust? It is more Robust than a brown porter of course. It has more alcohol, has more hops, and  has some black  patent malt. It also generally seems like it could be an American version of the porter. A glance at the list of commercial examples on the BJCP style guidelines basically lists American breweries making Robust Porter and English breweries making Brown.

I took my recipe from the Robust Porter episode of the The Brewing Network’s: The Jamil Show. You can find the recipes over at beerdujour.com, a site which only lists award-winning recipes. These recipes are probably similar,  or even the same as the ones in his book Brewing Classic Styles.

I adjusted the recipe, as I used dry malt extract, and his extract recipe calls for liquid malt. Let’s hit the main points:

SRM: 32.4
IBU: 34.1
OG: 1.064

I did a partial mash with the following ingredients:

1 lb 6 oz Crystal 60L
1 lb 6 oz  Munich Malt
10 oz Chocolate Malt
7.3 oz Black Patent Malt

This didn’t work out well. I tried to do brew in a bag. I used the recommended amount of water that Beersmith told me, but with the bag I had and the width of my pot, the water didn’t really cover the grain completely. This made it hard for the water to regulate the temp and different parts of the grain had widely different temperatures. I will have to change the method next time, probably with a bag that doesn’t keep the grain so tight.

After the “fun” of mashing, I brought the water up to boil, and threw in half of the 6 pounds of extra light Dry Malt Extract, and 1.7 oz of East Kent Goldings at 5.6% Alpha Acids. At 15 minutes I threw in a Whirflock tablet. This is the first time I have ever used a fining agent. A fining agent binds to the proteins and help make the beer nice and clear. Whirflock is essentially Irish Moss – a red Algae – in a convenient tablet form.

Then I threw the rest of the extra light DME in, and threw the last 0.75 oz of East Kent Goldings in at flame out. I chilled it down to about 65 degrees topped it off to 5.5 gallons and realized my original gravity was under by over 13 points. To fix this I threw in more extra light DME until it hit 1.063, and am hoping for the best.

I have been listening to the Jamil Show a lot, and he  is constantly stressing that proper  fermentation is the key to good beer. Therefore, I made a yeast starter for the first time. To make a yeast starter, you essentially take your liquid yeast and put it in some water with light extract (i.e. you make a low gravity wort) and let it start to ferment. During the first stage of fermentation, the yeast eats all the oxygen in the liquid and multiplies. Then you take your multiplying yeast and throw them in your beer to get a healthy fermentation. Unfortunately, to get the recommended amount of yeast with out a mechanical means to constantly introduce oxgen you need about 3.5 liters of yeast starter. Good thing I have a gallon jug and an extra 12 ounces of DME lying around. Every time I passed it, I gave it a shake help it along.

I pitched the yeast, aerated the wort, and took the bucket to the basement, where there has been a surprising lack of bubbles lately, The krausen did form, so something must be happening.