1 Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2017 12:07 AM

Fair warning, fairly dull family history coming up

Had a chat with my nan yesterday and found out I'm not the only member of the family to have ever caught the home brew bug. Her dad used too and he had a porter recipe which she vaguely remembers. He used to brew it up for Christmas, and he brewed it strong. Apparently one year he invited his brother to sample some, and after two pints his brother tried to go home on his bike. In the process of trying to get on the bike he kept going and tipped over the other side of it, leading to a police caution for being drunk in charge of a bike XD.

Anyway, I thought I'd try and recreation his recipe, maybe at a slightly lower gravity. It being the 1960s when he brewed this there was a dearth of equipment and grains. So his Porter was made entirely from pale malt, coffee beans, and a single hop edition with a long long boil. He also used a bit of malt extract, so anyway here's my recipe and thinking:

1.75 kg Maris Otter
250 g home toasted Maris Otter
1 kg Light DME
250 g brown sugar
500 g crushed (but not ground) coffee beans for last 10 mins of mash
25 g Challenger hops @ 90 minutes

No idea on the coffee, need it to add some colour and malt style bitterness to the brew, any suggestions welcome.

2 Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2017 6:23 AM

What a cool project Benjamin, recreating your great-granddad's recipe! What is your batch size, 23L? You are probably right to keep the IBUs on the low end of the Porter style, in case you get a lot of astringency from the coffee beans. I would increase the gravity (grains if you have a big enough pot, or extract if you don't) and aim for 5% ABV myself.

In terms of home toasting your malt, maybe you already know how, but in case you don't, you can read about it here:


I'd stick to the Gold malt toast level. Think I will try making some myself, next time I make an English Bitter.

I suppose you are waiting with adding the coffee beans until the last 10 minutes of the mash to limit their acidifying effect on the mash, and the amount of tannins extracted? That might work….How did you come up with that amount, 500gm? I have no idea, but it sounds a wee bit on the high side.

One thing to keep in mind about coffee beans is: the darker the roast, the more oily the beans, which is bad for head. A lighter roast might be good.

You did not mention yeast. Are you going to use bread yeast, for authenticity? I'd be tempted to use some Nottingham myself.

Good luck with your brew, and let us know how it turns out!



3 Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017 4:08 AM

Hmm on reflection I might make this as a 2 gallon batch as none of the people I know who are happy to drink homebrew enjoy Porters.

But yeah, good shout on the ABV, might as well make something I can age a bit. In terms of home toasting malts is it tricky to get it right past a light roast? (I had the same thought on a pale ale, might make extra and save it!). But yeah, I was hoping to get it a bit darker just for some colour, butaybe I can use some dark molasses or something similar.

The amount of coffee was fairly arbitrary to be honest, I'll dial it back to about a cups worth for one gallon, I'm hoping that using a bit in the mash could impart some colour and a bit after flameout flavour? Thanks for the shout on the oils by the way, maybe some oats to counter balance as well?

Haha, on the yeast I'm tempted to use proper yeast, doesn't seem worth making the beer not as nice for the sake of authenticity!

Thanks for the help,

4 Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017 8:32 AM

I think scaling down a recipe is a good idea when experimenting; you don't want 23L of something unpleasant. Been there, done that! But if you are going to mash grains, might as well make 2 gallons; mashing is a lot of work for just one gallon.

I don't think you should rely on darker home toasted malt or molasses for colour. I have used commercial amber and brown malt and find a little goes a looong way. As for molasses, every time I have used it, even in small amounts, it made my beer taste like rust. Molasses is very high in iron. I don't use it anymore.

I think you should leave your recipe as is, with the possible exception of the coffee. Currently you have it sitting at 13.5%, which is how much black patent or roasted barley is used in stouts. Porters usually have less roasted malt, like 6-7%. If you really want to play it safe put just 4% in the mash, which is said to be how much black patent is in Coopers Dark Ale, and hold back the other 2-3%. If there isn't enough coffee flavour after fermentation you can put the reserved (cracked) coffee beans in a hop sock and “dry bean” post fermentation. Taste it every couple of days and, when the aroma (seems to extract more aroma than flavour) is where you want, pull the coffee beans out. But there are quite a few brewers who say forget dry beaning and because you need some heat to get the flavour out of the beans, so it is best to add hot brewed coffee to taste at bottling time.

If your porter turns out too light in colour you can always steep some Midnight wheat, which has no astringency, to darken it more.



PS Oatmeal can provide a silky mouthfeel, but it does not improve head. Some folks say it does the opposite.

PPS If you are going to age it, remember to carbonate on the low side.

5 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 2:10 AM

Progress update! Scrapped enough out of my student loan together to buy the stuff for the recipe. I've decided to go a bit more cautious on this and make it 23 litres because it turns out my partner actually quite likes stout, so I have to make twice as much!

Also got a new plug for my boiler so this is going to be a BIAB.

Final Recipe is as follows:

4.5 kilos of MO (with 0.25 kg toasted to Gold Malt levels, 0.25kg to Brown Malt levels).
100 grams of Black Patent and 100 more of Roasted Barley (kind of walking away from the traditional recipe here but I want a darker colour without messing the whole thing up, also cold steeping them I think).
0.25 kg of Brown sugar for a bit of extra boozy boost.

This and 30 grams of Challenger for 90 minutes. Coffee is going to be cold brewed and added right at the end of the boil, going to make about 2 litres of coffee cold steeped with 500 grams of crushed beans, but might alter that closer to the time. Going to ferment with Mangrove Jack's Empire Ale yeast.

6 Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 4:20 AM

Sounds good Benjimin. Just home toasted some base malt to the Gold Toast level myself, for an English Bitter; first time trying home toast.

Good luck and cheers,


7 Posted: Friday, October 13, 2017 5:33 PM

G'day Benjiman, as Christina says, sounds like a challenging exercise!…

If you are in Australia, or more to the point if your great grandfather was in Australia brewing in the sixties, he would have been breaking the law! I can't remember when it became legal but it was after the sixties anyway…..
I lived in the country in the sixties, well always really, but when I was doing my apprenticeship as an electrician, we used to travel around the country and wire up farm houses ready for the mains power coming through, many of the farmers made home brew and all wanted you to try it, I remember one lunch time when the farmer brought out a couple of his longnecks for us to sample with our lunch, I was about 16 maybe just 17 at the time, I had two cheese glasses and was half pissed…. some of them were pretty good, but we also came across some bloody shockers too….most of them were high ABV.

Good luck with the project, keep us informed.

*cheese glasses, for the younger brewers on here, were small glasses that used to be sold with a cream cheese spread in them, they had a metal lid which you would pry off to access the contents, every home had a collection of them for drinking vessels after the contents had been used.

8 Posted: Thursday, February 01, 2018 10:37 AM

Hi Benjamin,

I just responded to the thread about making 1 gallon batches and realized you are the same Benjamin. How did your porter turn out?

My English Bitter with the home toasted malt turned out well. Initially I was disappointed in it, as it was a little harsh (I think I may have toasted the malt a few minutes too long), but after a bit of aging it smoothed out and was delicious.



9 Posted: Saturday, February 03, 2018 6:15 AM

Hi Christina,

Sadly I haven't brewed this yet, I shelved my plans before Christmas due to infection issues, going back to my parents for a few weeks and because my oven broke (so no malt toasting)! Glad to hear that yours went down well, gives me hope for when I do try this! How much toasted malt did you use?

Last edited by Benjiman (Saturday, February 03, 2018 6:15 AM)