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Old 04-04-2007, 06:26 PM   #1
GregKelley
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Default Problems with stouts and porters

Sorry for the cross-post for those of you who have seen this....

I'm an extract brewer using special grains.

I've been revisiting my brews over the last couple of years and have hit upon something. I've made brown ales, red ales, scotch ales, pale ales and various Belgians. They've all come out tasty with compliments from picky friends.

However, when I attempt to make a stout or a porter they typically come out bland and sometimes maybe too bitter.

I downloaded a podcast on pH and its affects on taste and plan to listen intently. But I'm wondering, is there something common to how stouts and porters are made vs. the other types that could be the key to my mistakes. Thoughts I've had are:

1. water hardness - do stouts and porters require something different from the other beers mentioned?
2. malt and specialty grain types - am I screwing something up in steeping
3. inherent difference in taste profiles - maybe stouts and porters, or atleast the ones I make, are inherently less tasty and a little more bitter.

Just looking for thoughts from the experts. Thanks!

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Old 04-04-2007, 06:36 PM   #2
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1. Hardness should have little effect on an extract brew even with specialty grains. It's usually a worry for the partial mash/all grain people.
2. As long as you are following general instructions i.e. steeping 30 minutes at around 160F, have the grain milled etc. you should be fine. By way of extract, be aware that extracts such as Amber and Dark already contain crystal malt and in the case of dark usually has a chocolate or black patent (or a combination.) I learned this the hard way.
3. Both styles are more bitter. I'm guessing by tasty you are referring to hops aroma and fruityness rather than merely good flavor. Use the recipator http://www.hbd.org/recipator/ to figure out recipes that are more to your liking. The recipator has all of the styles from the BJCP built into it and can give you an idea of what kind of hops utilization you are getting to balance out the bitterness and maltiness of the beer. Also consider the style of the stout or porter you are making. Some are inherently more bitter than others.

Although, don't take my word for it, I'm just a noob who reads a lot. Hope this helps.

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Old 04-04-2007, 06:59 PM   #3
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I'm not an expert by any means, but are you using enough malt? Both the styles you mention typically have higher OGs and are characterized more by their malt profiles than hops. While stouts should be drier and more bitter than porters, neither style should have a lot of hop flavor or aroma.

It might be helpful to see your recipes to truely diagnose the problems.

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Old 04-04-2007, 07:03 PM   #4
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Water doesn't matter much for steeping.

It can be tough to get the maltiness necessary with extract. You might try a Maris Otter-based extract.

Look for commercial porters/stouts you like, then find a clone recipe. I worked on my own porter recipe for years, found one for Rogue Mocha Porter and tossed mine. It has three times as much Caramel as mine did.

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Old 04-04-2007, 07:06 PM   #5
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Also, are you steeping or partial mashing? By your description of the thin-ness and bitterness of your brews, I am wondering if you only steep. I found that when I started partial mashing, my brews were more well-rounded with more body, even after adjusting recipes for the higher extractions you get with a PM over steeping grains.

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Old 04-04-2007, 07:23 PM   #6
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I am steeping, not mashing. However, my last brew called for flaked barley and I only steeped it. I found out afterwards I should've partial mashed. Haven't done that yet, but I will be trying soon.

To answer the other questions....
I do love stouts and porters and know that they are bitter. Mine just seem to have less body. I have tried 2 clones of beers that I like and both didn't turn out so hot.

To be honest, almost everyone one of my beers has some little "mistake" that I realize hours later and kick myself for making it. It just seems that with my stouts and porters the mistake had a more negative impact that with my browns, belgians, pale ales, etc.

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Old 04-04-2007, 07:41 PM   #7
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Are you using too much black patent? Black patent can be really bitter--almost astringent.

I also think the hard water has more to do with it than people here are saying. I had the exact same problem when I brewed an extract stout.

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Old 04-04-2007, 10:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dude
Are you using too much black patent? Black patent can be really bitter--almost astringent.

I also think the hard water has more to do with it than people here are saying. I had the exact same problem when I brewed an extract stout.
I haven't used black patent in my last 2. But I will watch for that in the future.
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Old 04-04-2007, 10:43 PM   #9
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I am by no means an expert brewer, but i have brewed a couple decent stouts a couple yeras back using fuggel hops. The fuggel hops offered a perfect balance of of biterness.

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Old 04-04-2007, 10:47 PM   #10
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I was recommended to use .25 lb of black patent in a brew, much more will not be good for flavor.

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