22/06/2015: This brewing day was first published on the 27/04/2015 but it is now updated with the tasting notes you will find at the end.
Last time I made a coffee porter it came out not quite a porter but it had a nice touch of coffee. My first take from the first attempt was that it needed more volume, more maltiness, so the simple solution was trying to steep some specialty grains. My increasing confidence in my brewing really lets me play with my recipes and I think this one will be interesting, making a real coffee porter with a good “kick” to it.
A bit about steeping
Steeping is a simple method that sits between mashing and just adding water to the extract. The idea is to create a brew (just like tea) in the same pot where you will be boiling the wort (you can use different ones if you want, but why make more mess?) to add more flavour and/or colour to your wort. A good tool for steeping is get a reusable mashing bag and that way at the end of the steeping you can just take the “tea bag” out of the pot.
The quantities vary depending on what you want to achieve, and the kind of grains used differ from regular mashing grains. The steeping grains are lower in fermentable sugars, but have more unique features.
The best way I have found so far (I have only used it a few times) to do steeping is to boil water in the electric kettle (I used 4 litres of Brita water) and let it cool in the boiling kettle (the pot) until reaching 65-68°c. Once in that temperature range, I add the light grains (usually crushed crystal malt) for 30-60 minutes and then add the darker malts (chocolate malt or roasted barley) about 20 minutes before the end of the steeping. The pot is not on a heat source and by the time I’m done steeping the water will reach around 60°c.
Steeping will also increase the wort’s gravity, so it is worth keeping that in mind when planning what to use for the wort.
In 4 litres of Boiled Brita Water
0 minutes – 66°c, 200g crushed crystal malt
20 minutes – 65°c, 50g crushed chocolate malt + 10g decaff Colombian coffee beans (whole) roasted dark by a local company we use.
30 minutes – 64°c, bag is out and drained
6g Windsor ale Yeast with 5g dextrose, dissolved in 500ml Brita water (30°c)
Short boil (45 minutes) using the “tea” water from the steeping: 3.5 litres. To that I added the content of a 1.1l Coopers Dark Extract tin.
0 minutes – 30g Target Hops (11.7%) + 50g Dextrose + 500ml boiled Brita water
15 minutes – 20g Fuggles Hops (3.96%)
45 minutes – into the ice bath
70 minutes – wort cooled down to 26°c, sieved into the fermenter
OG=1052 at 29°c, placed in a cool place to start fermentation.
6 hours later: Fermentation is going wild, same as what happened with the high gravity IPA I made not too long ago, I guess high gravity beers need a lower starting temperature for a slower fermentation.
Update 1 (a week after brewing): Fremintaion is still slightly active. After raking g
ravity is 1023 at 21°c. Dry hopping is added: 30g decaff Colombian coffee beans (w
hole) roasted dark, 7g Challenger hops (9.18%) and 3g Marynka hops (7.6%).
Update 2 (2 weeks after brewing):
Fermentation ended, FG=1022, giving an ABV of 4.55%. 32g dextrose was added to 7.5L of beer for priming to achieve 1.8 Co2 concentration. Bottled and made 17 bottles.
First I can tell you for a fact that it is not a porter, but it is coffee. As I’m learning more about beer styles (more about it in later posts), the more I realize that I’m usually not right with my predictions of what I’m making, but most of the time it is tasty enough, so so be it.
This beer can probably be classified as a coffee black ale – it has more of the ale style and body, light hoppiness and a very strong coffee presence. I’ve tried drinking it in different temperatures and it is best cool (around 15-18°c) rather than really cold; the warmth mellows all the falvours nicely and adds to the coffee notes.
Colour is black and when pored it is very foamy – huge head that is probably due to having too much fementable sugar in the beer prior to bottling (FG=1022!). initially the aroma is metallic with a strong presence of the Fuggles hops, but when the beer is allowed to sit for a while it really shines.
When cool and with some breathing time the beer bitter, lightly acidic (like espresso) and with a very strong coffee presence, both in the aroma and flavour. The bitterness comes both from the hops and the coffee, giving it a little harsh finish. The texture also changes a little, and becomes slightly creamy, also like an espresso.
This beer is nice to drink very slowly, and sometimes I’m tempted to find a sweet and salty snack to go with it (maybe salted caramels?) to go with that odd taste combo. I don’t think I will try another beer like this for the time being, at least until I master the making of porters.