brown malt

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brown malt

Postby Mike C-Z » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:06 pm

In the Dec '11 BYO issue Jamil Zainasheff claims that you should use a British base malt for a brown porter, but speciffically says that you should use 5 - 10% brown malt to really make it outstanding. I made mine with American 2 row, chocolate, special roast, and crystal 120 and loved how it turned out. Would like to hear from experienced brewers and judges of this style, do you agree that a great brown porter needs to have brown malt in the grist?
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Re: brown malt

Postby turkeyjerky214 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:29 pm

I can't speak to the merits of brown malt (haven't used it in probably at least two years), but I can definitely tell the difference when I use Marris Otter instead of 2-row in my darker beers. Really, anything I want a stronger malt profile in, I stay away from 2-row.
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Re: brown malt

Postby siwelwerd » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:37 pm

I think you can make an excellent brown porter without it, but it lends a unique flavor to the beer. To me the key to making an outstanding example of the style is the secondary malt complexity, whether you achieve that with brown malt or others. Special roast is a good choice there, another option is to mix in some pale chocolate with your chocolate malt. I'm in full agreement with Brian on using a Maris Otter base. I also make sure to use crystal malt from an English maltster (I really like the Extra Dark Crystal, ~135L, that Kent carries. Can't remember if it's Fawcett or Baird's off the top of my head).
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Re: brown malt

Postby MIKEW » Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:04 am

While not a brown porter, I use brown malt in my american brown ale which usually turns out amazing. I like the smooth toasty/nutty to very mild roasty flavors that you get without bringing along the strong roastiness of the darker malts. I would absolutley give it a shot next time.
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Re: brown malt

Postby Witch Doctor Dale » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:31 pm

I'm a fan of brown malt in porters as well. Placed a few times with a porter that was 50/50 brown malt and Maris Otter. My current porter recipe is
8 pounds Maris Otter,
1.5 pounds brown malt
1.5 pounds carastan
.5 pounds chocolate malt

using EKG for the hops. Makes a respectable version of Fullers London Porter.
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Re: brown malt

Postby rex » Sat May 24, 2014 11:14 am

At one time brown malt was produced by sweaty guys in loincloths and clogs sweeping the malt around a grate in the second floor over a wood fire below. It was also referred to as blown malt, for the way it popped when processed this way.

There were a lot of unhappy porter drinkers in London when recipes were reformulated away from brown malt to use black patent malt.

I wouldn't brew a brown beer without it.
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Re: brown malt

Postby seymour » Wed May 28, 2014 9:31 am

rex wrote:At one time brown malt was produced by sweaty guys in loincloths and clogs sweeping the malt around a grate in the second floor over a wood fire below. It was also referred to as blown malt, for the way it popped when processed this way.

There were a lot of unhappy porter drinkers in London when recipes were reformulated away from brown malt to use black patent malt.

I wouldn't brew a brown beer without it.

+1, a man after my own heart!

And to prove rex's point, here's a passage from 1876 brewing guide The Complete Practical Brewer, in the "Brewing of Porter" chapter:

As porter is made by some brewers in the same utensils as those in which they make their ales, it is unnecessary either to repeat a description of them or to notice their dimensions; but it may not be out of place to state to the reader the method of making porter-malt; as every brewer should have some knowledge of the mode of preparing it, --although it has been nearly displaced, in large establishments, by the more profitable use of pale malt in porter-brewing… [it then goes on to describe the process, almost identically to rex's account, so fast forward...]

MALT AND HOPS.—The malt required to make 20 barrels of stout porter is 40 bushels of pale and 20 bushels of genuine porter-malt. Each of them are rather small ground and mashed in the same tun. They are mashed separately in large breweries; but on a small scale it is not necessary. The amount of hops employed is seventy pounds [which is 3.5 lbs/barrel, folks, extremely hoppy!]…

MASHING.—As stated previously, 40 bushels of pale and 20 bushels of genuine brown malt are employed…

You can see from that example, and all throughout the book, Brown Malt IS Porter Malt. The terms are interchangeable. In this sense, the question you're asking is, "Can a porter be brewed without porter malt?"

It seems to me the answer could be yes or no, depending on what you're going for, but first my own little rant. "Brown Porter" is an official BJCP style description, which like all their English brown styles, has almost nothing to do with actual English brewing practices past nor present. I know it's obsessive, but I maintain a database of nearly 4000 detailed commercial beer recipes, mainly English, from the Middle Ages to modern day. Guess how many contain the words "Brown Porter"? One…and it's from 2014…and it's provided by German maltster Weyermann…and it does not contain Brown Malt. Not exactly representative.

So, can a BJCP-approved "Brown Porter"—something a modern-day beer drinker would recognize as a vaguely more English than American style porter I guess—be brewed without English Brown Malt?
Answer: Yes, of course. Almost everything we've ever tasted called porter was made without it. Authentic English Brown Malt is fairly obscure these days, is not commonly sold in homebrew shops, and is seldom used by larger well-known commercial breweries.

Nowadays, the most common ingredients for a so-called Brown Porter are:
Pale Malt + Munich (inexplicably) or Crystal Malt + Chocolate Malt + Black Patent Malt + Torrified Wheat.
Or even simpler: Pale + Crystal + Black.
There are plenty of tasty non-English porters; almost none of them contain English Brown Malt. Even in England, not all modern-day brewers use brown malt in porters (a style they freely admit was revived by the American craft beer scene, but as such, does not much resemble original porter.)

BUT back in the mid-1700s to early 1900s when porter was massively popular, it always contained English Brown Malt/Porter Malt (unless the brewer knowingly cut corners by substituting it with cheaper ingredients, but the resulting beer was considered inferior.)

Along these lines, I like how rex opened it all the way up to say "I wouldn't brew a brown beer without it." Back in the day, no matter how it was labeled for sale, almost any brown beer was made with at least some brown malt.

In review: Can you make a tasty porter without English Brown Malt? Yes, but using some English Brown Malt would be more authentic and complex. Will it help you win a BJCP contest in the Brown Porter category? Hell, I dunno, probably not, which just goes to show the disconnect.


Some historic porter grainbills:
*Keep in mind, these extremely high percentages of brown and amber malts requires very long bulk-aging, typically 3 months-1 year. It really takes that long for the rough roastiness and burnt grain bitterness to harmonize into the malty sweetness. Another reason modern breweries skip these authentic ingredients is the need to start serving their porter a week after brewing, but I digress...

The Complete Practical Brewer (1876)
Stout Porter: 66.7% Pale, 33.3% Brown Malt
Porter: 50% Pale, 50% Brown Malt, + some Burnt Sugar Syrup post-fermentation

Barclay Perkins, London, England (see the Brown Malt declining over time?)
1805: 55% Pale, 45% Brown Malt
1812: 60% Pale, 40% Brown Malt
1821: 77.3% Pale, 21.3% Brown Malt, 1.4% Black Malt
1851: 73.8% Pale, 18.4% Brown Malt, 4.5% Amber Malt, 3.4% Black Malt

Town and Country Brewery (1830 English brewing book)
Bottling Porter/Brown Stout: 46% Pale, 27% Amber Malt, 27% Brown Malt

The Theory and Practice of Modern Brewing (1888 English brewing book)
London Porter: 82% Pale, 12% Brown, 6% Black (double the brown malt for more liquorice flavour)

1848 Wm. Younger Porter, Edinburgh, Scotland: 48.5% Pale, 48.5% Brown Malt, 3% Black Malt

Whitbread & Co Ltd, London, England
1811 Whitbread Porter: 73.5% Pale, 26.5% Brown Malt
1841 Whitbread XXXP Export Porter: 61% Pale, 35.6% Brown Malt, 3.4% Black Malt
1850 Whitbread London Porter: 77.9% Pale, 16.8% Brown Malt, 5.3% Black Malt

Wells & Youngs/Courage/Anchor Brewhouse/Alton Brewery, London, England
1915 Courage Porter: 59.2% Pale, 20.6% Brown Malt, 11.3% Black Malt, 8.9% Sugar

Fullers London Porter: 76% Pale, 12% Brown Malt, 10% Crystal Malt, 2% Chocolate Malt
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Re: brown malt

Postby rex » Thu May 29, 2014 7:56 pm

Do you have the old book that details the name of the guy who invented porter? It was news to me, thought that was lost in antiquity.
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Re: brown malt

Postby seymour » Fri May 30, 2014 9:10 am

rex wrote:Do you have the old book that details the name of the guy who invented porter? It was news to me, thought that was lost in antiquity.

I have a small library of physical books, but most of the really old ones I mentioned are public domain and available digitized online for free.

There definitely wasn't a single guy who invented porter. It was a general evolution, the big brown beer made from brown malt by breweries across England. Even the earliest brewing books I've read describe porter brewing as a well-established method for brewing a best-selling style.

A couple years ago I started a similar thread "Differentiate Porter and Stout" on an English brewing forum, and many revered beer historians contributed answers. The whole conversation was extremely educational, in case you're interested. Here's a quote from Ron Pattinson, author of the "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" blog and book series:

patto1ro wrote:The original Porter was a brewery-aged Brown Beer, brewed from 100% brown malt. The brown malt came from Hertfordshire and was kilned with straw. Brown malt wasn't the only malt around, there were pale and amber malts, too. Beers were usually brewed from a single malt. At the end of the 18th century, when the malt tax went up to pay for the war with France, brewers started using a mix of pale and brown malt because pale malt worked out cheaper. After the invention of black patent malt in 1817, London Porter was mostly brewed from pale, brown and black malt, though sometimes there was some amber, too. Roasted barley was Illegal to use in brewing before 1880. (Guinness didn't start using it until the 1930's.) After 1880 or so, sometimes crystal malt was used. In the 20th century, up until the 1950's, London Porter and Stout was brewed from a combination of pale, brown, crystal and black malt. Though the crystal malt was optional and Whitbread used chocolate malt instead of black malt.


And here's another quote from Graham Wheeler, legendary author, CAMRA leader, and all-around godfather of historical English clone homebrewing,

Graham wrote:seymour wrote:Is it? I've heard it's named after men who laboured as porters, the working class dock workers who favored it. I've heard elsewhere that's patently wrong, and numerous other explanations for the name.

The idea that Porter was named after street porters is based upon just one source, the famous Obadiah Poundage. Later sources, such as Feltham (1802), who many modern beer writers regard as a de facto historical source, is merely paraphrased Poundage with a few inaccurate embellishments. A single source is dangerous, and there is so much in Poundage that is of questionable accuracy that one has to be very careful in trusting any of it. In my view, the probability of Porter being named after street porters is about as likely as it being named after computer programmers. If porters had anything to do with it at all, it would have been the "pot boys" who, in the larger establishments, filled the tankards from the cellar and carried the beer to the customer and were also called porters in the parlance of the day. The little circumstantial evidence that exists supports the pot boys more than street porters, but there are other explanations that are just as likely.


seymour wrote:I've heard it was always a blended style of old and new batches, of light and dark batches. I've heard elsewhere that's wrong, and that it was always brewed straight-up as it is.

By the time the term "porter" was adopted, porter was always a blend, and blended in the pub at that, because it would have been cost-ineffective to blend porter in the brewery or brew it "straight up". There are at least two reasons for blending; one is to improve the flavour of a cheap beer; the other is to reduce the cost of a draught. Porter was blended for both those reasons, but mostly to reduce the cost. The reason for this, as always, was beer tax.

A brewer was taxed on the wholesale price of his beer, but there were just two rates of tax; one for ale or strong beer and another for small beer. There was a four or five times difference between the ale rate and beer rate. At the start of the 1700s the duty on ale was four shillings per barrel and the duty on small beer was one shilling per barrel. As time went on this was progressively increased and by the late 1700s the duty was ten shillings per barrel on strong beer or ale sold at twenty-four shillings or more per barrel, and two shillings per barrel on beer sold below twenty-four shillings.

There were no intermediate rates of duty so, on the borderline of what was deemed to be an ale or strong beer and what was deemed to be a small beer, there was an abrupt tax bump where the duty suddenly jumped by five times. There was no sliding scale; no proportional relationship between duty and strength. This restricted the range of beers that a brewer could produce at a price that the public would pay. The brewer could supply a cheap and cheerful beer and also a strong beer that was somewhat expensive. However, if the strongest beer that a brewer could produce for less than twenty-four shillings per barrel was (say) O.G. 1.045, it would be difficult for him to produce a 1.050 or stronger beer because the sudden tax jump would make the beer poor value for money; the price of the beer would suddenly jump by about thirty-five per cent. The imbiber would expect a considerably stronger beer than 1.050 for such a price hike (not that they could measure O.G. in those days of course).

For a brewer to brew an affordable beer, he had to keep his wholesale price below that barrier of 24 shillings per barrel. Beers were aged for long periods (as opposed to ales that normally were not), and ageing costs money. To age even a weak beer in the brewery could push the wholesale price above that magic 24 shillings per barrel. One way round this was to produce a strong aged beer, sold expensively, and a weaker mild beer sold cheaply, and let the imbiber mix the two in his pot to suit both palate and pocket.

Any suggestion that Ralph Harwood, or any other brewer, made a beer to imitate three threads, or that porter was a partially aged beer, is sheer nonsense. It would have been impractical to do so, and would have made a brewer silly enough to attempt such a thing non competitive.


seymour wrote:I've heard it was 100% brown malt, because that's all there was back in the olden days when they had to dry malted barley in wood-fired or inefficient coal-fired furnace rooms...

The original porter was 100% brown malt, kilned over hornbeam, not straw. After the late 1700s the percentage of brown malt was reduced progressively, being replaced with pale and amber malts, until the standard grist was equal parts brown, amber and pale. Eventually the amber malt was dropped, but 30% brown was still retained by the best brewers. This was not done because brown malt had a particularly low extract, as expounded by many, so-called, beer writers, but because it reduced the ageing time; the time from brewing to consumption, and proper pale malt was beginning to be produced cheaper on an industrial scale. Reducing the time from brewing to consumption lowered the price even further.
G.W.


Then ensued a drawn-out argument whether authentic English Brown Malt was dried over straw or wood furnaces, the appropriate type of wood, the degree and purposes of smokiness, etc, all of which is relevant to our original question. That user "Fuggledog" is a brewer who malts and dries his own English barley using 100% historically-accurate methods for sale to homebrewers. He even ferments and serves from wooden casks through a restored antique beer engine...you should see his awesome setup. When you talk with/read from guys like this, who take English ale styles so very seriously, it's easy to understand why they get frustrated with erroneous BJCP standards and American arrogance such as insisting on brewing brown ales without any brown malt.
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Re: brown malt

Postby rex » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:29 pm

This was what I referred to, but is debunked here:

http://zythophile.wordpress.com/false-a ... e-threads/

“Before the year 1730, the malt
liquors in general use in London were
ale, beer, and twopenny, and it was
customary for the drinkers of malt
liquor to call for a pint, or tankard, of
half-and-half, that is, a half of ale and
half of beer, a half of ale, and half
of twopenny, or half of beer and half
of twopenny. In course of time it also
became the practice to call for a pint, or
tankard, of three threads, meaning a
third of ale, of beer, and of twopenny;
and thus the publican had the trouble
to go to three casks, and turn three
cocks, for a pint of liquor. To avoid
this inconvenience and waste, a brewer
of the name of Harwood conceived the
idea of making a liquor which should
partake of the same united flavours of
ale, beer, and twqiplenny. He did so,
and succeeded, c ing it entire, or
entire-butt; and, as it was avery hearty
and nourishing liquor, it was very suit-
able for porters and other working peo-
ple: hence it obtained the name of
porter."
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Re: brown malt

Postby seymour » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:48 pm

Mike C-Z wrote:In the Dec '11 BYO issue Jamil Zainasheff claims that you should use a British base malt for a brown porter, but speciffically says that you should use 5 - 10% brown malt to really make it outstanding. I made mine with American 2 row, chocolate, special roast, and crystal 120 and loved how it turned out. Would like to hear from experienced brewers and judges of this style, do you agree that a great brown porter needs to have brown malt in the grist?

Mike, getting back to your original post, I like the look of this Jamil Zainasheff recipe:

Who's Your Taddy Porter (a nod to Samuel Smith Taddy Porter)
BJCP Style: Brown Porter
OG: 1052
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 29
Colour: 29°SRM/57°EBC, black
Grainbill: 79% Maris Otter, 8% Brown Malt, 8% Crystal 45L Malt, 5% Chocolate Malt (mash at 152°F)
Hops: Fuggles (60 min), Fuggles (10 min)
Yeast: historic Worthington brewery English ale strain, available as Wyeast 1028 and White Labs WLP013
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Re: brown malt

Postby siwelwerd » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:00 pm

seymour wrote:It seems to me the answer could be yes or no, depending on what you're going for, but first my own little rant. "Brown Porter" is an official BJCP style description, which like all their English brown styles, has almost nothing to do with actual English brewing practices past nor present. I know it's obsessive, but I maintain a database of nearly 4000 detailed commercial beer recipes, mainly English, from the Middle Ages to modern day. Guess how many contain the words "Brown Porter"? One…and it's from 2014…and it's provided by German maltster Weyermann…and it does not contain Brown Malt. Not exactly representative.


Perhaps you'll be happy to learn that the revised guidelines are scrapping the Brown/Robust distinction in favor of English Porter and American Porter. The draft guidelines will be posted for feedback soon, so there's your chance to get them fixed.
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Re: brown malt

Postby turkeyjerky214 » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:50 am

New style guidelines? You think they're gonna add Session IPA? I know you've been pretty passionate about it getting it's own classification for some time now. :lol:
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Re: brown malt

Postby beermikester » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:35 am

The following link takes you to the slides from Gordon's presentation on guidelines changes.

http://www.bjcp.org/docs/NHC2014-styles.pdf

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Re: brown malt

Postby seymour » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:28 am

siwelwerd wrote:
seymour wrote:It seems to me the answer could be yes or no, depending on what you're going for, but first my own little rant. "Brown Porter" is an official BJCP style description, which like all their English brown styles, has almost nothing to do with actual English brewing practices past nor present. I know it's obsessive, but I maintain a database of nearly 4000 detailed commercial beer recipes, mainly English, from the Middle Ages to modern day. Guess how many contain the words "Brown Porter"? One…and it's from 2014…and it's provided by German maltster Weyermann…and it does not contain Brown Malt. Not exactly representative.


Perhaps you'll be happy to learn that the revised guidelines are scrapping the Brown/Robust distinction in favor of English Porter and American Porter. The draft guidelines will be posted for feedback soon, so there's your chance to get them fixed.

Great news! Thanks for sharing.
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