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Baltic Porter Recipe - Tips/Suggestions

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jmichalicek

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So I have been wanting to brew a baltic porter with a bit of a twist and basing some of the flavors on a favorite Russian Black Bread recipe which uses Rye, fennel, cocoa powder, coffee powder, and dark molasses. I also really like Komes Baltic Porter which is heavy on the anise/licorice flavor so the fennel seed fits well with that. I did some looking through some of my books and decided to start with the Danzig baltic porter recipe from Gordon Strong's book Modern Homebrew Recipes as the base. My biggest concern here is getting a bit too much going on and just having a muddy mess of flavors. I brew 2.5 gallon BIAB batches on the stovetop so my measurements are aimed at that.

I reduced the original recipe's light munich and vienna by 0.5 lb each and added 1 lb of rye, then added the dark molasses.

My main questions are on the amount of fennel, cocoa powder, and molasses. From research I've done on other recipes this looks to be a solid amount to give flavor without being overpowering. I was also considering maybe chocolate rye rather than light rye. I'm not against flaked rye, either, but I've brewed with rye malt and chocolate rye malt. Research on flaked rye shows people saying it doesn't effect gravity, but brewtarget certainly has flaked rye bump my gravity up. Should I consider anise rather than fennel since that seems to be far more commonly used in brewing?

Should I possibly bump up the bittering hops a bit to account for additional sweetness from added molasses and additional gravity from the rye addition?

2.5-ish Gallons into the fermenter:

4.4 lb (54%) Weyermann Light Munich
1 lb (12%) Weyermann Rye Malt
12 oz (9%) Vienna
10 oz (8%) Carafa III special the original recipe does not specify Special, the dehusked variety, but that is what I can get at my local shop
10 oz (8%) Caramunich II
6.8 oz (5%) Munich 20L
4 oz (3%) Dark Molasses

Hops (originally had these backwards on times):
0.227 oz Czech Saaz at about 4AA for 20 mins
0.45 oz German Magnum at about 14.4 AA for 60 mins

Yeast:
I'm a dry yeast guy - so probably either Saflager S-23 fermented in the mid to upper 50s F or US-05 in the low 60s F. I'm open to other suggestions, but a packet of dry yeast of varying varieties depending on beer style has served me well on these small batches.

Other Ingredients:
2.5oz Low fat, unsweetened cocoa powder at last 10 mins of boil
0.071 oz (2 grams - about 1 tsp according to a website, but I will measure myself to be sure) Fennel seeds in boil

Coffee? Not sure if I need it here with the carafa III or how I'd want to do it - cold brew at end of boil, rough ground beans at some point, etc.
 
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AlexKay

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That’s really interesting. I’d never thought about fennel in beer before, but it sounds better than, say, coriander. My favorite spice in the licorice-tasting family is fennel pollen. To me it tastes sweeter and smoother than fennel, and I bet it would extract better in a boil. It is expensive, though a little goes a long way.
 
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jmichalicek

jmichalicek

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I'll have to look into fennel pollen. My wife and I do a lot of baking and other cooking, so we can certainly find a use for it. The fennel seed idea is because that is used in the bread recipe and I know we've always got that around anyway and of course isn't too far of a stretch from the more common anise usage.
 
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Cool recipe idea. My much simpler Baltic Porter uses 8 oz. of blackstrap molasses (5 gal. batch), with 8 oz. each of chocolate malt and Carafa III. In the result, molasses flavor is present but reasonably subtle. The fennel in your more interesting recipe may amplify the molasses character a bit. Or may conceal it? Let us know how it comes out!
 

NTexBrewer

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Don’t know enough about the ingredients you are using to comment on those but on the hops and yeast I can give some input.

Hops: Seems a bit strange to use Saaz to bitter and Magnum for ”Aroma”. Usually Magnum is used for bittering and Saaz for late additions.

Yeast: I’ve had good success with using Lager Yeast for Baltic Porters. Even with temperature control, I once had US05 ferment hot and added unwanted esters. I have since used 34/70 for my Baltic Porters but I think S-23 would work well.
 
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jmichalicek

jmichalicek

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I'll check the recipe, I might have reversed the hops when typing. If I went US-05 I'd be aiming for lower 60s but I have no issues with S-23. I've used S-23 in the past for tropical stouts. That will just come down to what my local shop has available, they've been having availability issues on some stuff lately just due to when their suppliers get shipments out.

That got me on Munich Classic a few weeks ago and then I got to learn all about WB-06 (and reading many discussions about it on here) - but I've got a pretty cool experiment on tap now. 1 dunkelweizen, 1 roggenbier based on that dunkelweizen but using wb-06, and the same roggenbier but with the correct Munich Classic yeast.

Update- just checked, I reversed the hops. Fixing them now.
 
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jmichalicek

jmichalicek

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Well, brew day went horribly wrong due to no fault of the recipe and just a few poorly timed completely unrelated emergencies of my own. I ended up tossing the batch, but at least had not yet added hops, so I've still got the hops and yeast to try again. I've decided to go back and reformulate for a simpler base recipe as long as I have to start over anyway.

Right now I'm looking at
54 % Vienna
25% Munich
12% Rye
3% Chocolate malt
2% Dehusked Carafa II
3% Dark Molasses

And then the fennel seed and cocoa powder and the magnum bittering and saaz aroma hops. Not sure if I really want aroma hops here now that I think about it, though... we'll see, I plan to need to do this a few times and possibly even pretty much scrap it a couple times before I nail what I am wanting.

I also feel like something in the caramel malt style is missing based on many other recipes, but the initial base I started with does not use any and I really do want to keep it a bit simpler. The molasses may make up for that sweetness anyway.
 
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jmichalicek

jmichalicek

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Brewed this second version successfully. Smells great, but the fennel seed sure was strong in my pre-fermentation sample. Hopefully it'll mellow out a bit over several weeks here or the flavors will generally meld better as fermentation goes on. As it currently stands, I could have used 1/2 as much fennel seed probably and probably could have gotten by with less cocoa powder as well.

I guess I'll know for sure in a few weeks.
 
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