While discussing upcoming late fall and winter brews we settled on the need this season for a classic London porter, tweaked and reimagined in our own way.
Basically, we wanted to accurately represent a timeless recipe for one of history’s most go-to brews while adding a few twists on top of it. In order to nail that base recipe, we called on our friends who brew one of the best porters in town: Denver’s Hogshead Brewery.
The folks at Hogshead are purveyors of all things English and old-style beer - English yeast, malts, hops, and cask ales that come in at a lower carbonation level than most beers you find on the scene today. Hogshead truly appreciates the English attitude of “session” drinking, with timeless recipes that are grounded in history.
It was important that we stick to the classic porter recipe as Alex and the folks at Hogshead see it, vis-a-vis a stout recipe. Basically, roasted or non-roasted malts. Alex told us, “We at the Hog like to keep the fully roasted malts as limited as possible, and keep the pH up to keep beer soft and not acrid.”
Hogshead joined us in our brewhouse in early November for a collaboration brew of a Cherrywood Smoked London Porter. We used a base porter recipe that is essentially unchanged from the 1840s and one that the folks at Hogshead have perfected.
Our idea was to merge the different “eras” of brewing porters - the mid 19th century recipe being classic, smooth, drinkable porter built on consistently English malt and yeast, and the pre-17th century porter when all malts were smoked due to the maltster’s inability to dry or kiln malt without woodsmoke. We added additional malts to the bill for flavor, appearance, and a bit of a historical tribute.
A cherrywood smoked malt gives the porter a slight smoky flavor that is present but not overpowering, allowing for the base porter recipe to shine through. A brown malt works with the cherrywood smoked malt to give a subtle husky taste that rounds out the smoked feel, and a classic English black malt gives the beer the color and slight bitterness of a true London porter.
Another addition we made was the use of a chocolate malt, which enhanced both the smoked flavor and the base malt flavor with the subtlest of chocolate touches.
The more complex malt bill holds down the flavor backbone of the beer while Fullers yeast, a strain that has been around since the 1840s, rounds out the recipe as a good English top-fermenting yeast. We think the merging of eras and styles while staying close to the traditional way of doing a porter makes for a good winter beer, and we hope you enjoy.
Thanks to Alex and the folks at Hogshead for collaborating with us on this brew!