I've been brewing regularly for the past year and a half and usually end up with a delicious final product. I mostly brew Pale Ales, IPAs, Brown Ales, Hefewiezens, and Belgian style beers. Those beers usually end up exactly like intended, delicious. With that said my stouts/porters usually end up less impressive. The only stout/porter that I've been pleased with was an Imperial Stout I made when I first started brewing, it contained a lot of roasted barley and black patent which carried through in the finished product. However, my stouts/porters usually end up watered down lacking robustness.
I really want to brew a Porter similar to Duclaw's Sweet Baby Jesus or Springhouse's Smoked Porter. They both have a velvety smooth mouth feel that I have yet to achieve. Both are chocolatey and slightly grainy. There are some roasted notes as well, but everything in them is well balanced.
I attempted a Porter a few weeks ago and finally sampled it today. I'm very disappointed. I think I may have had some yeast or fermentation problems. There is very little malt aroma, it's over whelmed by a slight sour/fruitiness. I think the yeast may have fermented too high or was contaminated. I used washed Pacman and 1056 yeast from a Pale Ale I made. The beer I washed the yeast from didn't contain any off flavors and was only on its 3rd generation. The weird thing is that both batches of Porter with the different yeasts contained the same off flavors. Also a Brown Ale I made the following day contains the same off profiles. I think I may have had a contaminated rag or fermenters. I've only experienced contamination one other time out of 50 batches. I'm going to scrub everything down and use a little bleach before I brew again. The beer is still drinkable, it's just not great.
Now back to the topic: I would like to see your recipe suggestions on a Porter similar to Sweet Baby Jesus or Springhouse's Smoked Porter as mentioned above. Here is the recipe of the Porter I made that was possibly contaminated:
10 gallon batch
18 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row)
2 lbs Caramel Malt - 40L
1 lbs 8.0 oz Chocolate Malt
1 lbs Barley, Flaked
8.0 oz Black (Patent) Malt
8.0 oz Wheat, Torrified
4.0 oz Roasted Barley
2.00 oz Northern Brewer [8.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)
It ended up very light, lacking the velvet smooth mouthfeel I was looking for. I didn't pick up any roasted malts in the final product as well. The wort tasted great before I fermented. I probably should have used an English yeast to bring out the malts more. Contamination or possibly high fermentation chamber could have just wrecked a good beer though. I'm looking for recipe critiques and suggestions to accomplish what I'm looking for.
I usually brew with one other friend, but since I was low on funds this turned out to be a 5 man brew. I tried to cut costs for everyone by reusing yeast, which seemed OK since the beer it was harvested from turned out great. I also brewed with people with little experience and wasn't able to monitor everything that was going on. I'm not sure how well the fermentation buckets were cleaned or all the sanitation practices that were occurring. The beer was fermented at a friends house who said the temperature was around 68, which I'm beginning to doubt. However, I've fermented beers in the mid-70s without the production of the amount of off flavors I'm perceiving in this Porter and Brown Ale. I'm sort of leaning towards a contamination of yeast or fermenting equipment. The yeast starters smelled like they usually do. I did wash yeast from the last batch and it had the same smell as the ruined beer. I would think that if the yeast I used was bad to begin with it would have had that same smell before pitching.
Anyway, I'm going to wipe down all my ferementers with a little bleach, soak them in an overload of starsan for a few days and dump the washed yeast. Also I'm going to limit my brewing with a large number of people and be the d**k that's an*l about everything. I've learned my lesson from trying to help others save a few bucks along with giving them the satisfaction like they know what they're doing.
Sorry for getting of topic, I just needed to express my frustration, which I occasionally do on these boards. If you have any suggestions on the Porter recipe and what I could change I would love to hear.
Thanks for putting up with my rambling.