Tag Archives: london

Honey Porter

I recently brewed a porter and split the batch. One fermentor took a third of the wort and another vessel two thirds. Both had the yeast pitched from the same starter. After two days, I added a kilogram of blue gum honey to the smaller batch. I took both beers to a recent club meeting which was themed around brewing with the nectar of the gods. All hail the honey and its mysterious properties.

Batch #1: Porter
1042 OG, 1013 FG. 4.1% bottle ABV. M10. Melbourne water, untreated.

Fermented at 20°C from:

30% :: American Ale Malt
30% :: Pilsner Malt
15% :: Munich Malt
15% :: Brown Malt
10% :: Special B Malt

60m single infusion mash at 70°C.
60m boil with 16 IBU of Horizon hops added at 60m.

The one kilogram of honey I added to the rest of the beer ended up working out to 30% of the total fermentable sugars. This meant it was going to be very recognisable in the finished beer.

Batch #2: Honey Porter
1061 OG, 1015 FG. 6.3% bottle ABV. M10. Melbourne water, untreated.

Fermented at 20°C from:

32% :: Honey
21% :: American Ale Malt
21% :: Pilsner Malt
11% :: Munich Malt
11% :: Brown Malt
04% :: Special B Malt

60m single infusion mash at 70°C.
60m boil with 16 IBU of Horizon hops added at 60m.

We tasted these beers side by side two months after bottling and three months after brewing. Of the six people that tried both beers, three responded that they preferred the straight porter, while three preferred the porter with honey. Some comments were illuminating and reflected personal taste: “I like the straight porter, it’s roasty, smooth, good recipe!” and another “I prefer the honey one because it smooths over the roast character”.

I definitely notice a boozier edge to the honey porter that is less to my liking. The standard porter is reasonably accurate to style and an immensely quaffable beer. The honey version adds a blanket that accentuates the beer’s sweetness and throws it a little out of balance. The aroma is very similar between the two beers; the honey one is slightly more fusel.

On the whole, as with many honey beers, there’s little to recommend a honey addition to porter in my mind.

The honey porter also carbonated substantially more than the standard porter, almost to the point of gushing. I obviously bottled it too early. They still seem to be carbonating even now – which is a concern given I used a few glass bottles. I’ll need to drink them pronto.

Gender and Brewing

I recently noticed this article over on Homebrew Dad.

I agree with the author’s overall sentiment. I find the “bro culture” in a lot of the brewing community to be pretty ugly. Thankfully my home city Melbourne is reasonably progressive and its inner-city brewers are on the whole open and welcoming. Even so, of the fifty-odd members in my brewing club only two are female. Sometimes we get more women in at meetings but they are usually partners of brewers as opposed to being brewers themselves.

The Homebrew Dad article is correct to point out that women in the past brewed a lot more than they do at present. This shift started occurring when brewing industrialised in the 16th/17th century and male capitalists began to replace the gentry’s influence in society, taking brewing out of the home/home business and into the factory. Krenze’s 2014 thesis, “Change is Brewing”, touches on this, but the most relevant text is Bennett’s Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World. It’s not an objective disempowerment however, as one can also argue that women were only majority brewers prior to industrialisation because of patriarchal demands.

Either way, in brewing as in all things we who are privileged should be cognisant of the gender imbalance and work to diminish exclusionary behaviour. If more women want to brew, they should have the means and support to do so.

And geez I wish those American podcasts had less penis jokes. Boooring.

Fuller’s India Pale Ale

Where to start when writing about Fuller, Smith and Turner? They’re one of the United Kingdom’s oldest independent breweries and have really stepped up to the challenge of craft breweries in recent years with their range of historic, malty ales. I am a big fan in general and try their beers at every opportunity, which isn’t too often down under. To the beer.

The straight up IPA from Fuller’s is an export-only beer, unlike the Bengal Lancer IPA, which is the brewery’s domestic offering in the same vein. It sits at 5.3%, so a fairly low ABV for the current IPA style, but still in the ball park. My glass presented a shallow light colour with small head. English IPAs aren’t too common in Australia, so I was eager for the hop bouquet – and was thoroughly impressed. Spicy East Kent Goldings mixed with an unusual grassiness that bordered on aniseed. The more I enjoyed the smell, the more the aniseed dominated my senses. It was really an alluring aroma and mixed well with the beer’s flavour. I am unsure where the aniseed came from – a combination of the hops and esters?

On the palate a medium bitterness was overwhelmed by a strong malt tone. Although the sweetness was definitely robust, it was not very deep, presenting more of a wide, caramel malt blanket over the tongue than a layered delivery of malt flavours. It’s a very mild representation of the English IPA style, and nowhere near the American IPA. Very pleasant and enjoyable, a bright basement beer, but so malty that it could easily be classified a Pale Ale rather than an IPA. Perhaps if it had a bit more of an alcohol burn to it I’d be more inclined to label it IPA, but it is so syrupy smooth … either way, delicious beer. I wish we got more Fuller’s on tap around town.

I drank this beer at Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square.