Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The London taste

A pleasant side-effect of publishing old recipes, is that they get brewed*. Sometimes the beer makes its way to me. A very happy me. It's been educational.

Porters and Stouts have been popular. At least amongst the home brewers who've got beer to me. I've tasted more London Porter (I'm using the word in its broad sense here) than anyone since WW II. Very enlightening. Every one contained brown malt. Mostly black malt, too. Quite often amber.

Yesterday I cracked open another 19th-century London Porter. A Truman's Imperial donated by MentalDental. Very pleasant, if, like me, you like your Stouts strong. And with that London taste. Fuller's Porter has it. The Whitbread Porter and SSS De Molen brewed for me have it. It must be the brown malt.

So why aren't there separate London Porter and Stout styles in anyone's classifications? Seems pretty easy to define to me: the use of brown malt. And it's something you can taste. The London taste.

London Porter has much more historic validity than Robust Porter or Brown Porter. (Brown Stout, on the other hand, was a London style.) London Stout as much as Dry Stout. Demand their recognition.

* If you've brewed any of the beers, let me know. I'm curious which are most popular.


Gary Gillman said...

I would agree with this. Watkins again:


But turn now to page 7: here he states clearly that the key to porter is brown malt, not water or anything else. On page 17, he defines brown malt as one kilned for 4 hours over a brisk fire. Pale malt over a slow fire takes 12 hours in his system, amber over a medium fire takes about mid-way the time.

Now, in the first few pages, he states clearly too that malt should not smell of the fuel it is dried from. Thus, I would conclude that the London taste was not smoky in the Bamberg way or not very much, but had a coffee-like taste I'd suggest: a roasted vegetable flavour perhaps one can say. Indeed, modern Fuller porter tastes very much like that.

I believe too such taste can be delivered with black malt properly used. Still, that writer of circa-1900 you mentioned, Ron, some days ago said the fuel did affect the malt. Well, maybe it is all relative. I think withal one can argue that Watkins, and e.g., Hale in his husbandry book of the same era, meant the malt shouldn't stink of smoke. Whereas a light scent probably wouldn't have bothered them but might have been viewed as a fault by the more scientific era of circa-1900.

Somewhat improbably, I found some elderberry juice in the middle of a large Canadian city, in this case mixed with blackberry juice, but it will have to do. It is a bit sweet (probably the processing method, I think apple juice was added, although no sugar was as such, if I read the label correctly), so I might add some lemon juice before putting it into a pewter mug of porter. I'll try one ounce to 12 of porter, or maybe a half-ounce and see what the effect is. I am planning to use Sinha (Lion) stout for this for a London brown stout effect.

Ron, I think your calculation of 6% ABV for the 1763 brown stout is probably right since Zythophile mentions the writer lived near Ware which is close to London relatively speaking and it makes sense that he would have used the London signature malt, favoured probably due to its super-roasty taste.


Jim said...

I am hoping to brew the 1943 Whitbread Oat Mild soon. Something about it caught my interest, and I'm looking for a decent "low calorie" beer. When Kristen provides tasting notes for recipes, does that mean he's actually brewed and tasted each one before putting up the recipe? I.e. Can I assume it's not just estimated?

Gary Gillman said...

Well, I tried the elderberry juice with a dash of lemon in Lion Stout (Sinha in some markets) from Sri Lanka, a relic of Colonial brewing there. It does give as one would expect a light fruity and acid note. Quite nice but not radically different from mild porter. The red fruit note is one you sometimes get naturally in English beers. But one can see what the aged palate was in the 1700's and the acid tang is the key I think, today only found in gueuze, Flanders red ales, Berliner Weisse and a few others.


Mark Oregonensis said...

I have brewed the 1914 Courage X ale numerous times -- it's lovely.

Also the 1941 Curiously Strong Whitbread IPA (not yet kegged). Next week will be the 1877 Whitbread KKK.

I've also made some recipes of my own based on the grist/hops usage data from Mild! and Brown Beer!:

1869 Barclay Perkins X, 1850 Truman Running Stout, and a 1914 Whitbread SS (which I just tapped last night -- and will be a definite repeat brew).

In other words, I have become a tremendous fan of your work, perhaps most especially the grist/hops tables. I'd certainly send you some, will NL customs permit such shipments from North America?

Mark Oregonensis said...

Perhaps I should also direct your attention to a thread on the homebrew portion of babblebelt; it seems that your recipes have caught on:


mentaldental said...

Blimey you did leave that to mature long!

You are right for sure. It is the brown malt. I went to a mini beer fest recently. There were quite a lot of dark beers on offer. By far the best beer was the one with the brown malt in it.

Brown malt rules!

Jeff Renner said...

I often brew an Irish stout using 20% brown malt to get close to the mellower, more chocolate flavor of Murphy's vs. Guinness. A report with recipe is here.


I feel that this is a successful recipe, and an Australian brewer has brewed and and taken several prizes.

Bill said...

The 1914 Courage Mild is a favorite, I've brewed it several times. I have an early iteration of Courage RIS sitting in the dark for summer bottling. Several porters with brown malt. Get yourself over to the mid Atlantic region and I'll pour you something inspired by your blog. The real question is has anyone made a GA, now that is radical.

And 1909 showed up last week so those recipes are being considered, once the 45" of snow melts.

Korev said...

I have brewed the BP 1850 Export India Porter and plan to do the 1962 ELP soon now that I have sourced some polenta for the maize addition

Jeff Renner said...

Korev - you'll need to do a cereal mash to gelatinize the polenta. Maize starch doesn't gelatinize at mash temperatures.

Mash it with about 10% of its weight of malt (this keeps it liquid) at ~63C (temp isn't very critical) for about 20-30 minutes, then boil it for 30 minutes or so, stirring so that it doesn't scorch. Then add it to the main mash. This, of course, will boost its temperature.

If you use flaked maize, which is pre-gelatinized, this is unnecessary.

This cereal mash is the traditional American manner of handling unmalted cereal adjuncts. Further details can be found in my article, "The Revival of the Classic American Pilsner" at http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/attachments/0000/1298/SOzym00-Pilsner.pdf

Ron Pattinson said...

Jeff, interesting article.

Some British brewers used grits, particularly in the early days of adjuncts. William Younger is a good example.

In Britain flaked maize was more poular than grits, probably because you didn't need a special piece of equipment to gelatinsie them.

Graham Wheeler said...

Good old Kellogg's corn flakes are flaked maize. Must be easier to use and source than polenta (Whatever that is).

StuartP said...

Hello Ron,
I see that no-one else is following your request to tell you which recipes are being brewed, but that won't stop me!
I've brewed Barclay Perkins' experimental Irish stout. Fortunately, I had some strong stout to sour and blend in, as per BP's experiment.
This has worked really well! Blended just one week ago and I'm havin trouble keeping my hands off it: just so smooth and tasty.
So yet another home brewer has brewed yet another porter. How predictable was that?
I don't often brew ordinary bitter since decent bitter is available in abundance in pubs (Oxford, UK). Good pale ales, weissbiers, milds and lagers are much harder to find so are worth brewing yourself.
Brews ytd: Mild (a David Line recipe!), IPA, Amber Ale, Lager, American Pale Ale, Irish Stout.