Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tasting and Recipe: Cherrywood Smoked Porter

Well screw it: I was going to save this for later but after drinking half a glass of the Calypso Pale Ale, I decided I'd wash my mouth out with something I like a little better. This is a new beer I had not posted a recipe on yet: a smoked porter using Briess Cherrywood smoked malt. We have a sack of of this malt at the brewery and it smells really damn good, like a barbeque in the summertime. Pork ribs come to mind as well as BBQ potato chips, although it's much better than that. It's very tasty to eat on it's own. I was going for a well-balanced recipe, so I erred on the more reserved side as far as percentage of smoked malt, using only 12% in the grist. Well, let's get to the tasting first and then the recipe:

Appearance: Reddish-tan head, not quite black body but could pass for a stout. Nice head retention!

Aroma: Smoke, but light, slightly burnt roast character with a hint of molasses, unsweetened cocoa, and sharpness. A touch of warming alcohols, not surprisingly hardly any hop aroma. No Diacetyl, low esters. Very enticing.

Flavor: Caramel, followed by a quick hit of dry roastyness, and a subtle but lingering smokey finish. A touch of that "cherry cola" sharpness I get from certain proters and stouts. Hop bitterness is moderate, this is not a sweet beer. Finish is roasty, chocolatey, with a mild campfire-smoke that stays for a while.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied but not cloying, slightly creamy, moderate carbonation, spicy and dry roast with just a touch of roasted astringency.

Overall: Lovin' it. This beer has been a real hit so far with other people. I am in some ways tempted to tweak it (maybe dial down the black malt by just a smidge since it is toeing the line of stout, or up the smoked by a hair and the bitterness down by just a few IBU's), but then again, sometimes you start doing all this stuff and realize you had it right the first time. For now I'm just drinking it. One thing I think really works for this beer is it's smokey enough for people that are looking for a touch of smoke, but not so much that it would turn off a regular porter drinker. This keg will kick fast, and then I'll want more.

Here's the recipe:

BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Cherrywood-smoked porter
Asst Brewer:
Style: Robust Porter
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (30.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
OG: 1.061 SG
FG: 1.019
ABV: 5.5%
Estimated Color: 34.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1 lbs 8.0 oz Cherrywood Smoked malt (5.0 SRM) Grain 2 12.2 %
8.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 4.1 %
8.0 oz Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 3 4.1 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.1 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) Grain 5 4.1 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 7 2.0 %
8 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 69.4 %
18.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Boil 60.0 Hop 8 27.0 IBUs
28.00 g Falconer's Flight [10.50 %] - Boil 15.0 Hop 9 11.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [124.21 Yeast 10 -

Mash: 4.25 gal + 3 gr. chalk, 1 gr. Gypsum, 2 gr. CaCl
to 151, rest 45 min, fell to 146
bring up to 162 over 10 min, rest 10 min
Sparge: 5 gal at 168, no salts, 30 minutes

Collect 7 gallons @ 1.052
Boil as noted, nutrient & whirlfloc at 10 min

Whirlpool & rest 15 min
Chill thru plate chiller over 20 min to 70
oxygen 60 seconds
pitch 2nd gen Wyeast 1056 (1 week refrigerated)
Ferment at 68, then keg.

Created with BeerSmith 2 -

Tasting: Calypso Pale Ale

A tasting of the dry-hopped, all-Calypso pale ale I did recently:

Appearance: Hazy burnished orange, definitely some hop or chill haze going on that I would like to fine out if it were a commercial beer, but which I'm fine with for a homebrew. Fairly resilient head and nice glass lacing.

Aroma: Hoppy, but not assertively aromatic, vaguely fruity hops with a touch of red apple, pine, and a little onion. Light grassy/bready grain background, very clean low esters and alcohol aroma. No diacetyl. Not bad, not very memorable as far as the hops go.

Flavor: Fairly balanced between bready, caramelly malts and grassy hops. A slightly rough, almost burnt quality of bitterness enters in the flavor mid-palate and seems to linger long after swallowing. Not overly bitter, but at the same time, not a clean or crisp bitterness. Dry finish, no alcohol bite or fermentation off-flavors

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, medium carbonation adds some spicy, prickly character. Just slightly astringent on the gums, which I would think is hop derived rather than malt derived. Clean finish, rather easy to drink.

Overall: Some aspects of this beer I really like. I like the malty, grainy character provided by the fairly large percentage of Vienna malt and crystal malt, although if I were truly looking to design a "perfect" pale ale, I would dial them both back just a touch. The Calypso hops, I have to say, I am not too excited about. The high cohumulone percentage definitely seems to have added a rough bitter aftertaste that I think doesn't make it ideal for a bittering hop, yet on the other hand, the aroma is not really that astounding compared to the more choice American varieties like Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, or Centennial. So I don't really know where this hop finds its place, either as a bittering or flavor/aroma hop, but maybe other people will have more success with it than I did. Overall, it's a fairly good beer, but the keg is not moving very fast, which is always a sign of how drinkable it really is.