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Old 10-11-2011, 04:37 PM   #1
xeerohour
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Default Formulating a 'session' coffee porter

I'm craving a nice sessionable porter for this winter, and I'm looking for a few things:

1. I love that roasty/coffee aroma and flavor that you can get off bigger porters, something like Left Hand's Weak Sauce porter.
2. Want it around 5% alcohol, so that people can have a couple
3. Want it to finish somewhat sweet, to balance out the roast and coffee, but not 'heavy'. Again, looking for something sessionable, so it can't be cloying.
4. Not very hoppy, noble hops with just enough bite to balance the roast

Based on what I've read (since I have very little experience with Porters), I want to use roasted barley for the coffee, and chocolate malt for the color and sweetness.

I've formulated the following, and I'd love some input:

9lb Pilsen malt (I have it on hand and prefer it to 2row)
1lb Chocolate
1lb Caramel 60
1lb Flaked Barley (for creaminess and head retention)
.5lb Roasted Barley

1oz Willamette 60min (4.9%)
.25oz Magnum 60min (13.7%) (have it left over, purely to increase the IBUs slightly)
1oz Fuggles 5min (4%)

Using a clean English yeast, most likely Wyeast 1098

IBUs: 27
ABV: 5.2%

I'm looking for any input you guys have, the only dark beers I've made previously were over 8% alcohol, so this whole 'session' thing is a bit new for me

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Old 10-11-2011, 10:49 PM   #2
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I've made a few coffee porters and I have learned a few things along the way. For one, I like to add the coffee in at the 5 minute mark, similar to making a french press. I coarse grind the preferred coffee (I used Jamaican Blue Mountain last time, expensive, but delish!) and place it in a muslin or steeping bag. Remove bag at flame-out and chill. if you use a fast chilling method, such as a plate chiller, you should be good to go. If you use an immersion chiller or something that takes a bit longer, you may try adding the coffee AT flame-out.
As for achieving the slightly sweeter taste, try your mash temp in the 154-156 range. My last one I mashed at 152, but would probably increase a degree or two on my next go. I also incorporated cocoa nibs (roasted husks of the cocoa bean) in with the coffee steeping bag, with amazing results!
Your malt bill looks like a good break down. Curious why you prefer pilsner malt over 2-row though? I've always thought pilsner gave a touch bit more acidity when using ale yeasts. You could also add a half pound of lactose, if you're going for creaminess in your beer. I might question the Magnum at 60 min, but it is a low amount so it won't lend to much bittering. Let me know how this turns out, and happy brewing!

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Old 10-11-2011, 10:56 PM   #3
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I have been working on a session porter for my wife. She wants something low alcohol, low bitterness, with a ton of roast. I think we are after the same thing. I have been shooting for about 4-4.5%, but I want the beer to have the backbone of a bigger porter.

I like your IBU level. I think with a pound of chocolate and a half-pound of roasted barley, it will not matter what base malt you use. You have a bunch of unfermentables in there--at what temp are you planning to mash?

All my recipes so far have been based on English porter models. Is it even ethical to brew a porter with no brown malt AND no black patent?

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Old 10-12-2011, 03:13 AM   #4
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Good points, thanks to both of you.

I honestly hadnt even considered actually using coffee, I was hoping the roasted barley would get me enough on it's own. How much coffee do you traditionally use on a five gallon batch?

As to the mash temp, I was actually thinking around 154. I did want some residual sweetness, but won't most of what I have be yeast food (excepting the caramel)? Sorry if that's a stupid question, but I didn't think that with all the speciality grains being around 20% that I'd lose too much fermentability.

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Old 10-12-2011, 11:21 PM   #5
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I say go ahead with what you've got there. I have no idea about a porter with pilsner malt, roasted barley, and noble hops, so I guess I can't comment too much on the actual recipe. I WILL say that everybody's definition of "cloying" etc. is different, so you are going to have to start somewhere and dial in.

Also, be prepared for a bit of a wait. I have found that the more really dark malt in the grist, the longer the maturation period is. The last small porter I made has been in the bottle for months and is still changing. I started to get good around 2 months, and is markedly improved at 4.

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Old 10-14-2011, 06:05 PM   #6
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Well, I just picked up the grains and yeast, decided to go with Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale. I figured that since I was already toeing the 'stout' line, I might as well pick a yeast that emphasized that

I'm still debating adding coffee at flameout as suggested - I have some Gevalia Breakfast Blend that might be perfect for this, but I'm tempted to just leave my first attempt at this clean so that I can get a good feel on how the grains balance.

As to the whole 2row vs. pilsen thing, it was a determination I made pretty early on in my brewing. It just seems to me that pilsen provides a bit more body, almost a 'smoothness', while 2row is just there. Since I already do a 90 minute boil, switching between the two doesn't ever really affect my techniques. Who knows, it may just be the way it interacts with my water here in Oklahoma, or it may be just that I improved my techniques as I started playing with pilsen. Either way, I've made a number of good beers with that malt, from IPAs to Oktoberfests, and as long as I'm happy with the result that's all that matters to me.

Anyway, brew day tomorrow - wish me luck!

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Old 11-05-2011, 10:29 PM   #7
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This actually turned out really solid. Roasty coffee aroma and flavor, but light and very drinkable at 5.1% ABV. It's not carbonated yet, but I was really happy with it as I racked it into the keg.

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