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The Mans Cave

The Mans Cave was a concept originated long before my time. The men in my family have always had their place of solitude where men could be men and there was no questioning. I now live the city life which means the man cave has been greatly reduced in size. That brought me to create an internet based man cave where all men can join in. Whether geek, gamer, jock, fitness, brewer, BBQ-er, or just looking for a place to read about manly news, you will find a home in the Man Cave

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exploring the Styles of Beer: Porter

There is such a great variety of beers that are considered porters that it is hard to group them into just one category.  Everything from chocolate to coffee to fruit to spices works well in a porter, and that is part of the reason that they appeal to so many people.  Just because you've tried one porter definitely does not mean that you won't be able to find at least one porter that you do.

Porter is a unique style of beer that often is said to have been created for the men who worked as a porter to carry around with them so they could drink it during lunch without getting sloshed.  For those of you that are wondering, a porter is someone who was hired to carry luggage, or other packages.  Anyways, the style was created when brewers began blending three different beers together to create the first blended beer that we know of.  The basic idea is that they would take a beer that had been aging for a while, and then blend a beer that was relatively fresh and a beer that was somewhere in the middle.  This became known as "Three Threads".  The dark color of the porter helped hide the cloudiness of it, and the rich roasted malts helped to cover any mistakes in the brewing process that would create off flavors.  Porters back then were often higher in alcohol than they tend to be today, pushing around the 7% ABV level back then.  Another aspect that many brewers took advantage of was aging the beer in large wooden vats.  Some of this aging would lead to a slight sourness in the beer, and the famous Guinness is probably one of the greatest examples of that sourness coming though. (Yes I know Guinness is a stout, but it was actually called a stout porter when first created.)  The name, did in fact come from the frequency with which porters would carry around this brew, but it was not made specifically for them to drink at work.

What to Look for in a Porter:
Porters cover such a broad style of beer, that the flavors of each porter could be completely different than another beer from the same style.  However, there are some key flavors that should be somewhat present in every porter.  It should be dark.  Not necessarily in flavor, but the color should be brown to black.  The aroma should be very malty, and may have rich, chocolate notes and possibly roasty or smoked aromas as well.  The flavor should be bready, malty, chocolatey, smoky, and roasty, or any combination of those aspects.  Hops should be minimal and should really be there just to help balance out the malty sweetness.

Great Commercial Examples: 
There are so many great varieties of porters out there that I have tried to pick a relatively broad selection.  If you don't like one of these beers, don't automatically assume you won't like the others.

Stone Smoked Porter- This is my personal favorite, and one of my all-time favorite beers.  The smoky undertones to this beer add incredible complexity to a smooth beer loaded with chocolately, malty character.  With just enough hops to help round out the flavor, this beer screams for a cold night and a warm fireplace. 

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter-  This may be the beer to buy if you're trying to find a darker beer that your girl would like, but that you wouldn't mind drinking either.  This is definitely one of the smoothest porters that I have ever tasted, and while the vanilla is definitely there, it is a pretty subtle taste that only compliments the dark roasted flavor of the malt. 

Kona Brewing Pipeline Porter- For all of you that enjoy drinking coffee, this is the porter for you.  Dark, bold, bitter coffee floods the mouth, but is surprisingly smooth and easy drinking.  This is one of our favorite coffee beers out there, and is a unique twist on the style.

Anchor Porter- This is a terrific example of what a porter should be.   Loaded with roasty, chocolaty flavor that is smooth to drink with just a little twinge of hops in the taste.  Dark, black and well rounded, this is the perfect example of a porter. 

Fuller's London Porter- For all of you across the pond, you hopefully already know about this one.  From the birthplace of the Porter comes a beer that is rich and bold and smooth at the same time.  Loaded with chocolate notes, this beer is a complex layer after layer of flavor that opens up more and more as it warms in your glass.

How to Brew Your Own:
American 2-row provides a solid base that lets the chocolate malt and and smoked malt really shine through.  For an interesting twist, a like to add some vanilla beans or crushed red pepper flakes into the secondary fermenter.

 Mash in at 153
10 pounds American Two-Row malt              
8 oz Crystal 60L malt                                     
8 oz Chocolate malt                                        
3 oz Peat Smoked malt                              

60 minute boil
At the start of the boil add .75 oz Centennial Hops

After 45 minutes add .25 oz Fuggles Hops
After 55 minutes add .25 oz Fuggles Hops

After cooling wort, pitch American Ale Yeast into it. (Wyeast 1056 or Safale US-05)
After 2 weeks in primary, transfer to secondary fermenter and add additional flavors if desired.

If you want to brew this as an extract recipe, steep the specialty malts in your water for 30 minutes as you heat it up until the temperature reaches 170 degrees F.  Then use 7.5 lbs of amber dry malt extract in place of the American 2-row.
This is for 4 gallons of beer.  This beer comes out looking a little more brown than black.  If you want a blacker color, add a few ounces of Black Patent Malt to the mash.

Be on the lookout soon for a new Mans Cave competition!  Until then,

Cheer and Happy Brewing!


Bart Pullen said...

Awesome! I want this at home ^_^

Triper777 said...

This is very good looking blog! also nice news.

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