January 19, 2010

Parlor Game

Even as our medium-bodied Abbot Ale was finishing up in the basement, Nahum and I had our eye on the next brew. Specifically, something dark, heavyish and delicious...which meant, after very little contemplation, that we'd be brewing a batch of porter.

The recipe that leaped out at us on Hopville was Parlor City Porter (which abbreviates, unfortunately, to either PCP or PP...maybe this one should just be PC Porter, yeah?). The ingredient list was enough to put the taste in our mouths, and even before we'd placed the order at the Gaslight we were both impatient to be drinking this latest batch.

However, once we did put in the order, we ran into a new wrinkle: our supplier didn't have several of the ingredients, specifically coffee malt and golden oats. Now, he's had to make a substitution or two before, but usually just a minor adjustment; in this case, he gave us a whole different kind of oats than what the recipe called for (the type we put into the oatmeal stout, actually), and chocolate malt instead of the coffee varietal. Obviously, this would alter the final product, but we wisely decided to relax and make some homebrew.

I opened the box of ingredients (another difference--they've always come in a bag before!), and put 1 oz. of American Crystal 60L, and 0.8 oz. each of chocolate malt, oats, and black patent malt into the grain bag, which steeped in 2.5 gallons of water.

At the boil, we pulled out the bag and dropped in 2 lbs. of DME and a 3.3 lb. can of light LME, followed by 1 oz. of East Kent Goldings hops. Right from the start, the wort had a coffee-dark color and a rich, dark-roast aroma. Clearly, the substitution parlor game wouldn't be a problem for the Parlor City Porter.

After 30 minutes, we put in another ounce of EKG hops, along with a tsp. of Irish moss; 25 minutes later, half an ounce of Fuggles hops went in as the finisher, and the whole thing got another 5 minutes of boiling before we strained the dark, dark liquid into the Ale Pail and topped it off to 5 gallons.

At this point, we've alternated methods for cooling down the wort: sometimes we've used an ice bath, sometimes added chilled water, and last time we just put the bucket out in the wintry weather. This time, we had a couple of our top-off gallons in the fridge, which seemed like it would do the trick--the temperature was already about halfway to where we needed to be before pitching the yeast.

So we waited. And waited. Nahum went home. I did some stuff around the house. Hours passed. Many hours. And even with the lid open, we'd only lost a few degrees.

Finally, I lost patience with the PC. It had been almost 5 hours, and it was only down to 85 degrees...but that was going to have to do. I pitched the Activator pack of 1968 London ESB yeast, sealed it up and popped the pail in the basement.  It's supposed to age for 2 weeks...but you can be very sure I'll be looking in on it very frequently. The yeast was already pretty active at the pitch, and the high temperature tells me that there will be a lot of activity in the bucket. To avoid a second Explosivo! incident, I wrapped the pail in plastic and am keeping a watchful eye on the airlock.

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