Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Russell Porter

You may have noticed that I'm working my way through Russell's beers. There's a reason. It's material for yet another book I'm working on: "Free!". I'm not going to waste my time writing recipes that aren't going in a book. I like to crack on early with the recipes because . . . I put so effing many of them in the recent books. They tell part of the story, I think. Not sure my readers would agree.

We’ve now got to Russell’s Black Beers. And here’s the most surprising one of the set: a standard Porter. Why a surprise? Because, by this point, outside of London and Ireland, Porter was pretty much sone dead.

When brewers did produce a Black Beer of Porter strength, it rarely bore the name. For many, it had become purely a bottled beer and was sold under various confusing names such as Cooper or Nourishing Stout.

Retaining brown malt, the grist is more London than provincial. The latter mostly choosing for a simple pale and black malt combination, Compared to Whitbread Porter from the same year, there’s a lot more sugar and quite a bit less of the roasted malts.

Talking of sugars, the two employed here were “dark invert” which I’ve interpreted as No. 3 invert and “London Brand” which I’ve taken to be a type of caramel. 

In addition to the standard English hops from the 1908 and 1910 harvests, there were also some Bavarian hops from 1910.

1911 Russell Porter
pale malt 6.50 lb 67.85%
brown malt 0.50 lb 5.22%
black malt 0.33 lb 3.44%
No. 3 invert 2.00 lb 20.88%
caramel 500 SRM 0.25 lb 2.61%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1050
FG 1013
ABV 4.89
Apparent attenuation 74.00%
IBU 44
SRM 28
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1768 English Special Bitter


Iain said...

That's a hefty whack of brewing sugar for a porter. Were London brewers doing that at the time? I wonder if the proximity of Gravesend to London accounts for the ‘Londonish’ character re. brown malt?

Interesting how the first of these 1911 Russell beers to use anything other than Fuggle and Golding is a porter, when you'd think it wouldn't matter. I wondered whether the Bavarian hops were used as lower quality hops only good for adding a bit of extra bitterness, so the brewer could avoid using up the best English hops. But I thought Bavarian varieties were considered by British brewers to be good quality. Perhaps it's some arcane brewer's art?

Anonymous said...

Ron I thought pre war porters were strong at about 6 percent and not 44 IBU. Guess it shows that some pre war beers could have been easily made today.