Posts Tagged ‘Porter’

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Porter and Enzymes

March 26, 2013

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It’s been over three months since the last time we brewed and Larry and I both agree: we can’t let that happen again. For one, we were on a nice little routine where I think we had sort of optimized the process a bit so this time we were a bit out of sync. But more importantly, I just absolutely love our brewing Sundays and I really friggin’ missed it. The good news is, this ridiculously long-lasting winter has made our “out of seasonality” a bit easier to catch up with and I’m really excited to see how our Porter and Pale Ale (with Sorachi Ace hops) turn out. Black and tans anyone?

I was particularly excited about the Porter after deciding on a malted barley blend that included some “chocolate malt”. My original thought on this malt as its own sort of varietal was a bit off actually. In fact, just like my affinity for bourbon aging, the key here is an element of heating. Not so much charring in this case; rather the chocolate malt is a more traditional malted barley that has been kilned at a fairly high temperature. This results in a “caramelization” of flavors bringing out the “vanillas” and “caramels” that we love in our Porters. But this high heat kilning has another interesting result as well.

The process of malting barley for fermentation purposes is all about the generation of enzymes. These enzymes act to convert the starch component of the barley to simple sugar molecules that are then digested by the yeast in the mixture. Of course, we know all about the yeast digesting sugar and producing alcohol, but those sugars have to come from somewhere. The amount of enzymes available for this conversion along with the flavor components of the barley itself help impart certain end notes in the product (let’s say beer in this case). So let’s bring it back to the “chocolate malt”. The kilning process actually degrades all of the enzymes. This means, our Porter mash must rely on some component of “pale malt” for the necessary enzymes to get fermentation. 

Man, all of this is getting me thirsty. What about you? Well, just a few weeks more and the next level of appreciation can begin.

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Bourbon in a Sea of Beer!

February 11, 2013

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One of my favorite parts of planning the Nobler Gatherings is just that: the planning. I love focusing on the liquor selection, planning a bit of a menu, or even organizing the specific activity. But when it comes to beer I know it’s best to sit back and hand the reins off to Dan and Doran. Back in the summer, these dudes put on one of the more memorable Nobler Gatherings as we went to town on some amazing Saisons and seriously good ribs. So when it was time to organize the winter addition, and I heard words like Smoked Porter, Chili, and Kluskis I was both excited and a bit confused.

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Let’s start with the confusion. “What the hell is a Kluski?” you might be asking? Well my friends, a Kluski is a gift from heaven. Almost a pierogi without the filling or a potato dumpling with a bit more character, these Kluskis were a recipe from Dan’s grandfather that he cranked up a bit with the addition of bacon. Paired with some pickled cucumbers, string beans, and okra, we were set to eat like Polish Kings. And that was before the chili arrived. Frank gets a special mention for his spicy and smoky chili that  cooked down with a porter style beer making this the perfect addition to the menu.

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But the main excitement came from the 14 or so big time beers that Dan and Doran picked out at one of the best distributors in town, New Beer. I joined them for the fun this time around and watched as they filled a cart and eventually our backpacks with a variety of winter favorites. Stouts, Imperial Stouts, and Porters were book ended by two slightly lighter offerings in Allagash’s Victor and Goose Island’s Juliet and the group systematically and methodically took them all down with some real highlights along the way.  Plus for those of us who enjoy our winter beer with a glass of whiskey, a bottle of Blanton’s brought by our second Nobler Dan hit the spot perfectly. 

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We used the BeerAdvocate scoring system to at least gauge our expectations and I was somewhat surprised how the ratings seemed off at times. But at the end of the day, we certainly didn’t drink a bad beer all night! My favorites were Rogue’s Chocolate Stout which shouldn’t surprise me since everything Rogue does, I love. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, a classic, was also at the top of our lists; so perfect in it’s execution! But lastly, it was another Goose Island in the Night Stalker Imperial Stout that really blew me away. I’ll be grabbing a few more bottles of the Night Stalker to store up for the next big winter storm and my next batch of Kluskis!

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