Monday, December 3, 2012

Smoked Porter with Vanilla, Chocolate and Cinnamon

Being in Vermont we have basically 3 seasons not 4 like other states. The cold comes in October and doesn't really leave until late March. Then "mud" season lasts a couple months and is usually just as cold during the night. This weather is perfect for a dark, warming, rich beer. The kind of beer that you could drink by a fire to help warm you from the inside out. The kind of beer that you could drink after a long day on the mountain or after working outside all day. In the winter I crave malt forward beers more then IPAs and usually brew ten or twelve of them during the cold months. This imperial stout is the first of my next couple months of dark brews.


Vermont has become known for its IPAs as of the last couple years but in our brewing community stouts and porters defiantly make there mark seasonally. I find myself being constantly surprised by what Vermonters are brewing, in particular Hill Farmstead. In his second release of Twilight of the Idols this year we find a rich and complex porter with subtle spicing and a great body. I really enjoyed this beer when I first had it two years ago and I was looking forward to the release this year even more. Shaun brews great dark and imperial beers so it was only natural that I would be inspired by him and try to replicate them.


I really enjoyed Twilight of the Idols but I wanted something more so with this beer, loosely based off of it I upped the ABV and added smoked malt and chocolate. When I brew my beers I always try and do as much from scratch as I can. In the last couple weeks I have been experimenting with indirect smoking on my grill. I started with smoked chicken thighs and then smoked some chilies. For this beer I smoked two pounds of American 2 row over hickory wood for about an hour. The issue with indirect smoking is keeping the temperature the same over the course of cooking. I can usually keep my smoker around 215 degrees for three or so hours which is perfect. The trick is to not toast the malt and instead expose it to hot smoke which should just add the flavor and not kiln it any further. After smoking the malt for about 45 mins. I had a great smelling malt that was slightly smoking on the taste as well. I wanted more smoke flavor so I also added one pound of Briess Smoked malt to the malt bill. This should get me a noticeable smoke flavor in the finished product.


For the chocolate addition I added 2 ounces of docoa powder and 3 ounces of cocoa nibs at the five minute mark in the boil. When I brewed my Imperial Peanut Butter Stout with Paul we added cocoa powder at the end of the boil and racked it onto nibs and got a great chocolate flavor. I wanted even more chocolate flavor this time so I added the nibs to the boil and I am going to rack it onto nibs as well. The vanilla addition came as a single long vanilla bean that had been soaking in bourbon for the last 2 months. I cut the bean in half, split it and then scrapped the inside to add to the boil at the end with the chocolate. I plan on adding some of the bourbon that the vanilla beans have been soaking in to secondary to add both vanilla and bourbon favors.


Anticipated O.G. 1.105
Anticipated IBUs 75
Anticipated SRM 71

Recipe Specs:

18.5 pounds Crisp Maris Otter
2 pounds Home Hickory Smoked Malt
2 pounds Briess Chocolate Malt
1 pound Briess Smoked Malt
1 pound Briess Caramel 120
12 ounces English Black Malt


2.5 ounces US Magnum 13.1% aau @ 60 mins. = 65.8 IBUs
1 ounce Willamette hops 9.3% aau @ 15mins. = 9.2 IBUs

1 Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Bean split and scrapped
2 ounces Cocoa Nibs
2 ounces Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Fresh Ground Cinnamon

Safale US S-O5 American Ale/Chico Strain


12/3/12 mashed in with 7.8 gallons of 170 degree water to hold mash at 154 degrees for 90 mins. Collected 9 gallons of 1.093 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, added spice additions at 5 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"Porter Batch 1" 1.100 O.G 75 IBUs