The great thing about living in a small village is that word travels fast. Having seen the beer in the pub some lovely soul suggested that the inaugural local celebration of all things boatie – the Limekilns River Festival – should have have local beer, rather than the one keg of Belhaven Best normally available at the boat club.
Opportunities like that don’t come along too often and, sensibly, since they were running the event for the first time, the boat club were nervous of ordering too much so I took the chance to make it a low-risk proposition: 300 bottles sale or return. If it went well, we’d all do nicely from the sales. If it went badly, if rain stopped play, I’d have to find space for hundreds of bottles of beer but it wouldn’t go to waste. In the end, there was a great turnout of thirsty sailors – the back-up supply was needed.
One of the beers I brewed for the occasion, to make sure there was something for everyone, was a smoked porter. The recipe comes from The Craft of Stone Brewing (which is a great read) and while it’s a nice beer, it’s not (to me) all that porterish (at least not as nice as Pressure Drop’s Street Porter) and not very smokey. So today I thought I’d have another go at it. I may have overdone it.
First up, smoke. I like smoke. In food and whisky. Yesterday, I made some pastrami according to Tim Hayward’s recipe. Four hours of feeding a smoking pile of apple wood and you know what smoke smells like. That kind of smoke. So Stone’s hint of peated malt (2.5% of the grain bill) was out and in came the German smoked malt, cranked up to 15%.
Stone’s hops are, naturally, all-American: Columbus doing the bittering, with Mt Hood at the end. But, of course, porter hops would be British or European (see Ron Pattinson’s book of Vintage Beer guide, which has a whole chapter on porter), so I kept the Columbus but substituted Fuggles for the Mount Hood.
And coffee. Half a litre of strong black coffee in the boil. Because.
And like the single hop Nelson Sauvin, we’ll see how it goes.