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Old 07-09-2011, 07:48 PM   #1
May 2011
Oak Harbor, WA
Posts: 19
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Greetings! I've been lurking here for awhile and it seems that I've gotten through my first batch of beer without screwing it up or losing my sanity, due in large part to spending way too much time on this forum. Thanks guys! I'm getting my stuff from NW Brewer's Supply in Anacortes, WA, and started out with a Cooper's Dark Ale kit augmented with 4 pounds of amber malt extract. It's been bottled for about three weeks and seems to have turned out drinkable! Not anything to write home about just yet, but hey.

So given my typical tendency to jump in with both feet, I went ahead and brewed up a batch of their Wooley Porter next (am I allowed to link to the website?), which is currently in primary and what I'm curious about. I got a bag of mystery steeping grains, 2 packets of mystery hops, 7 pounds of amber malt extract, and a smack pack of the apparently-notorious Wyeast 1176 Ringwood Ale.

The recipe was for a 2.5 gallon boil. I had a big stockpot, so I boiled 4 gallons instead. Steeped the grains at 155 degrees F for 30 minutes, then added the extract and started to heat everything up. I was doing this on my stove and getting up to a no-kidding boil took FOREVER. Note for future reference: get a turkey fryer. Boiled for 70 minutes, Hop Packet A at boil and Hop Packet B at 60 minutes. Cooled it down, added another gallon of water, and got a OG of 1.068 at 74 degrees, which corrected to 1.070. That's about 0.016 higher that the recipe called for; which is my first question. What caused me to shoot up this high? Did taking so long to get up to a boil create more fermentables? Would that chemical reaction even affect the density of the wort?

Anyhow, pitched yeast at 74 degrees; they took about 2 days to get moving but then started bubbling away happily. Fermometer showed around 68 degrees for most of the first 3 days; I rigged a swamp cooler at about day 4 to try to keep things under control in my overinsulated condo. That whacked it down to 62 degrees (oops), so I backed off. Things stayed there until yesterday when they got back up to 68. At 9 days in, they've chomped it down to a 1.022 SG, which as I understand it is within in the expected attenuation limits for Ringwood. I'm debating stirring things up again, but either way it's sitting in Primary for at least another week.

That leads into my second question. I took a taste of my gravity sample last night. Wow. This stuff is roasty. I'm not complaining; I like my beer to stand up and smack me in the face. But it's to the point where I'd like to balance that with something else. There's no real hint of smoke, but more of a big coffee-like taste. No hint of butterscotch from the Ringwood. I've thought about racking to secondary and adding bourbon and/or vanilla beans; would lactose help to add some sweetness?

Finally, I looked over the BJCP style guidelines for kicks. With the gravity and tasting notes I'm reading, this doesn't seem to be in their "Porter" category. So what is this strange beast I've created? All I know is that it's going to be fun to see how it turns out.

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Old 07-09-2011, 08:04 PM   #2
Kaz's Avatar
May 2010
Amish Country, PA
Posts: 1,067
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The high original gravity could've been due to the top off water and the wort not being mixed very well. With an extract kit, if the recipe is solid and you add all the fermentables and end up with the correct final volume, its pretty hard to miss the O.G.

As so the roasty taste, a porter or stout at 2 weeks may taste pretty roasty, burnt etc, it will need a good 4-6 weeks of conditioning to let the flavors mellow and meld together. If its just your second brew, I wouldn't try to balance it out. See what the recipe tastes like in the final product, and then if you want to tweak it, make it again. Good Luck!
Draft 1:
Draft 2:
Draft 3: Belgian Dubbel

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Old 07-09-2011, 08:29 PM   #3
Beer Dude in the Sunset
mrk305's Avatar
May 2007
Posts: 1,708
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Like Kaz said, I wouldn't tweak it at all at this point. The flavors will mellow with a little age. Good first post!
Carport Brewery, Lilburn GA

Any advise offered after 10:00p.m. should be regarded as questionable
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Old 10-03-2011, 01:17 AM   #4
May 2011
Oak Harbor, WA
Posts: 19
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

So I solved my own question, I think. The porter turned out great (now to start futzing with it and make it better). I used considerably less than 53 bottles to bottle the stuff, though. This caused synapses to misfire when I noticed, but I didn't put two and two together at the time.

I brewed my third batch today, an IPA. It's currently sitting the fermenter waiting to get cool enough to pitch the yeast. I was perusing the forums, and found a thread showing a picture of a 6gal Better Bottle marked off in gallon increments. Aha. I didn't add enough top-off water to the porter, and was brewing less than 5 gallons of beer. Thus, of course gravity will increase as one uses less water with a given amount of fermentables. D'OH!

This explains why it's so strong, to boot. Ah, well. An unintentional Imperial Porter. I'll take it.

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Old 10-03-2011, 04:22 AM   #5
Trail's Avatar
Sep 2011
Colchester, Vermont
Posts: 654
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Dude! I did literally exactly that with my Irish Red last week. I brewed a five-gal recipe and I have three gallons of beer sitting in my closet. I shudder to imagine the beast whose claws shall drink deep of my flesh, as potency will be an undeniable component of the goings-on.

I'm brewing a stout right now and according to SCIENCE it is going to be about six ABV. It's a four-gal batch, but actually on purpose. Anticipation!
Kegged: Honey Steam Pilsner
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