Sunday, October 21, 2012

#4 Pecan Porter

With my keg of Cascadian Dark Ale getting lighter and lighter and the weather in Austin finally getting cooler, I started thinking about a good winter beer.

A local microbrewery here in Austin, (512) Brewing, produces an exceptional Pecan Porter, something that I often enjoy a pint of in and around Austin.  I thought this might fill my dark keg nicely!

For the first time, I brewed entirely by myself (ie, without my brother-in-law, Josh).  I must say, it is quite nice to have a second set of hands for a few steps of the process, and obviously the conversation and camaraderie is nice too.  But I was set up for a pretty nice day, all told...

Above is a nice Vermeer of my brew day...  See if you can spot each of these details in the frame:

  • Feet up, fan on, football on the TV, remote nearby, my last hombrewed dark ale in a chilled stein, meat smoking on the grill, jug of purified spring water, recipe, grains soaking, sparge water boiling, digital thermometer and timer counting down, notebook on hand, lighter ready to fire up burner again, gloves, hydrometer, funnel

I recently picked up a digital thermometer with a built-in count down timer.  This thing comes in very handy for all aspects of a brew day.  It seems accurate enough to me.

So as not to disturb my soaking grains on my propane burner, I use the searing burner on my propane grill to heat my sparge water to 170oF.

So far, all of my brews have been "mini mash", which means that I soak a couple of pounds of malted grains.

These are placed in a mesh bag and soaked in 155oF water for about 45 minutes, but this doesn't provide all of the sugar necessary for the fermentation.

To supplement that sugar, I usually add a couple more pounds of liquid malt extra to the boil.

The recipe, which I typically buy from Austin Homebrew, specifies all of the details.

After the boil, I typically cool my wort in my utility sink in my garage.  I fill the sink with ice and water and try to get my wort down to 80F as quickly as possible.  After that, I typically siphon the wort down into my carboy, just before adding the yeast and beginning fermentation!

This beer was actually the first one I brewed using a second stage fermentation.  This was a little bit of a pain, since I only had one carboy.  I siphoned it out of the carboy, back in my sanitized stainless steel kettle, cleaned and sanitized the carboy, and siphoned it back in.  I've since bought a second carboy and that helps tremendously!

This recipe actually called for two more ingredients to be added to the secondary fermentation -- 3 ounces of bourbon soaked oak chips and a tiny vial of pecan extract.

With both stages of fermentation, this beer rested for a total of 4 weeks, while I was traveling (Washington DC, Denmark, and Sweden).

I was delighted to see how thick and deliciously viscous this beer turned out, upon kegging.  It would take a few days to full carbonate, but once carbonated, this was an absolutely delicious beer.

A perfect for Christmas and winter.

A completely opaque, brown color, with a nice creamy, tawny head, it tasted just fine on its own or even for dessert (over vanilla ice cream!).


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