My Beer

Common Sense Porter

Common Sense Porter 1

Brewed using the traditional percentages of grains found in English porters commonly consumed in the 1700’s, I attempted to remain true to the style. Unfortunately, given the modern grains and controlled yeast production, we really have no idea what it would taste like (unless you’ve gone to great extent to grow your own grain). This was a three-gallon test batch, BIAB.

Grain Bill:

Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) – 76%
Brown Malt (65.0 SRM) – 11%
Flaked Barley (1.7 SRM) – 7 %
Chocolate Malt(450.0 SRM) – 6%


Fuggles (0.75 oz) – 60 min boil
Fuggles (0.30 0z) – 10 min boil


British Ale (White Labs WLP005)


Thomas Paine was an instigator, both in America and in his homeland of Great Britain.  His writings were, for the most part, meant to provoke one into action. Whether Common Sense, Rights of Man, or The Age of Reason, Paine’s ideas put the common citizen in charge of their own destiny through common sense. Today, many political philosophies look to Paine – anarchists included. Although he gave in to the idea of government, other writings suggest he would have done without it if he had his way.

This old style English robust porter turned out with a higher OG then I anticipated. Shooting for 1.056, something went wrong. I’m looking for reasons – I’m sure after a few beers I should be able to figure it out. Being off by one or two points is one thing, however a 1.073 starting gravity shows something was amiss. After secondary fermentation, rather than 1.024, apparent attenuation was much greater. My final reading before bottling was 1.010, giving me AA of 86.30%. Thus my 5.1 ABV is no longer a good number, as it is somewhere around 8.3%.

Still, all is well. The great part of homebrewing is the finished product: if it tastes great, it is a good beer!




Bacon’s Rebellious Smokin’ Maple Porter

Bacon's Rebellious Smokin' Maple Porter-10.7

I opened a bottle of  my fifth test batch of this smoked porter the other day. For whatever reason, it turned out fairly close to what I was looking for.  It is finally coming around to what I envisioned. What could be better than bacon and beer?

My four previous test batches were a smoked porter concoction that was either too bitter or two sweet. The first two batches had a little  Peat smoked malt in them. Not bad if you wanted a good stout, but not exactly what I was looking for. Someone suggested using Cherry smoked malt and the remaining tests had a better taste. Next to be altered was the amount of maple syrup. For my one-gallon test batches, I began with 20 ml and increased up to 51 ml. The last batch was 40 ml. After adding the LME to the equation, I might have to adjust it down a little bit.

I received 3.3 lbs of Porter LME as a Christmas gift, and couldn’t imagine how I was ever going to put it to use. Shazam!  What better way to increase ABV than to add some liquid malt extract? So in went 40 oz as a late extract addition. By doing that, my SRM went to almost 64 and my gravity increased by 40. A little out of the Porter style, but would still be good for either 22b or 23 in the BJCP.  Hopefully, the next gallon will be the exactly what I am looking for. Oh, and the best part – bacon!!! I finally got the taste to come through loud and clear. Looks like I’ll be using about a pound of hickory smoked bacon for 5 gallons.

About the label.

Nathanial Bacon lead a group of frontiersmen in 1676 against the ruling Governor William Berkeley and British forces in what became the first rebellion of the colonies. I could have went with a play on a movie star’s name, but for whatever reason, anarchy and Kevin Bacon don’t go together. Anyway, the pig’s head represents the bacon part of the smoked porter. A tricorn hat adorning the head is simply not historically accurate, however, most people would not recognize the head dress of the 17th century as relating to a rebellion (something closer to the Three Musketeers, maybe). Further, Nathaniel Bacon was not captured, nor was his head served on a platter. However, dying of dysentery would hardly convey a rebellious person. Finally, an anarchist’s quote that I felt summed up the drink.


Black Hand Smokin’ Porter

Black Hand PorterMmmmmm, Porter. Stout. Brown Ale. Bitter and Wee Heavy. Maybe on an off day, when my choice is water or a lesser brew, I might partake in a Red Ale. Anything lighter (except  maybe an Oberon here or there in the summer), I leave for those who do not like beer but don’t want to stand out at a party. In short, give me a full-flavored, full-body meal in liquid form.

That being said, my house ale is a smoked porter.

The first beer I brewed was an English Porter, the second a Peat Smoked Porter. Being new at brewing beer, I purchased an extract kit with specialty grains from Northern Brewer. The wait was well worth it. I enjoy the bite from the peat smoke and the overall appearance and aroma. After several batches I decided to have it on tap at all times. The difference today – BIAB (Brew in a Bag).

A little about the label.

The rather regal-looking gent is Archduke Franz Ferdinand  of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The “Black Hand” referenced in the name belonged to a secret Serbian military society seeking to unify ethnic Serbs. Because the malt used in this porter was smoked peat, “Smokin'” could be taken as a double entendre – Archduke Ferdinand was shot by Gavrilo Princip, a member of Young Bosnia formed by the Black Hand, with a .32 caliber handgun.