Black Cat Porter

Well, what a great Christmas and New Year that was!

To help celebrate, I kept good on my promise and made a shorter all grain brew to have a Porter ready for Christmas drinking


The Boil and Hop Additions


This was based on a recipe I had done back in May 2015 for a partial mash: part all grain – part liquid malt extract. I wanted to see if a smaller all grain batch would be any different, without the additional extract to bulk up the size of the batch. I had found that this had a slight twang to it – which seemed to be the one downside against getting a bigger batch in using the partial mash method.

I settled on the following BIAB recipe:


2.63kg Maris Otter

0.30kg Munich Malt

0.12kg Crystal 120

0.07kg Black Patent Malt

0.07kg Chocolate Malt

0.07kg Aromatic Malt

0.07kg Wheat Malt

0.07kg Carafa Special I


17 ltr Liquor

Mash @ 67C for 60mins

Sparge with 3-4 ltr @ 70C


15g Target (30mins)

11g Fuggles (15mins)

11g E.K Goldings (15mins)

11g Bramling Cross (15mins)


Pre Boil Gravity: 1044

Boil: 60mins

Original Gravity: 1047


1 Pack of dry Windsor Danstar / Lallemande Yeast

Added 150g of a split of 50g each of demerara, muscovado and brown sugars (briefly boiled and cooled) during fermentation

Final Gravity: 1014


So to explain:


  1. I love Munich malt. It seems to end up in all my recipes. Don’t judge me – I have a favourite ingredient, ok?;
  2. This was more porter like than stout (my 2015 porter had verged more on the stout than porter side) so I was well pleased with this beer matching the style. The Carafa I is a de-husked roasted grain and this may have had an impact in keeping the harsher roast flavours in check;
  3. I really like Bramling Cross hops at the moment. They give a slight blackcurrant note to a beer and this was definitely evident in this. I could even suggest raising the late Bramling Cross addition to up this even more;
  4. I was off on my anticipated OG by quite a margin (I can’t rightly recall the numbers I was supposed to hit). I decided to add a few different brown sugars after the boil and once fermentation had started, to increase the alcohol level. I had read somewhere (mental note – one for a historic brewing post perhaps?) that porters had traditionally been brewed with a proportion of simple sugars and thought this would do well. I certainly could not taste anything off about this and it may have added something in the overall scheme of things;
  5. The Windsor yeast worked really well. I did re-hydrate it before pitching, and added some warmth during fermentation as it was so cold in the cellar (why did I not do a lager!);
  6. In a small barrel it carbonated well and was probably one of my best efforts yet. I bottled the other half in 500ml swing top bottles. I used carbonation drops but I think that the carbonation level was a little too much in the end.
  7. The head retention wasn’t great. It would pour well, but the head didn’t linger and certainly didn’t leave the lacing that you (or at least, I) want to see. I put the wheat malt in to supposedly help with this, and had stayed away from other adjuncts to avoid getting into Stout territory. I’ve found most of my brews have not had great head retention, and I’m not quite sure what to do to improve on this yet.

So to summarise: a great brew in the end although I was off my numbers. I have found the BIAB method to be a great start to All Grain, but my efficiency has been off and the constant watching of the mash temperature has probably played a big part in this, as has the crush of my grains.

The end result was brilliant and probably one of my most successful batches yet in terms of taste and drinkability. It even passed the “Dad” test – my Father and Father-in-Law both declaring it the one they have liked the best so far.

As seals of approval go, you can’t get much better than that.

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