Pictured Top Left: Blended Porter Ale in a Favorite Brewery Glass, Top Right: Creating a Beer Blend with 3 Beers, Bottom Left: Red Beer Blend Mixed in the Brew Pot, Bottom Right: Pairs Well With Chocolate Chip Cookies or Smoked Gouda Cheese
A. About This Porter Ale Blog Entry
I love beer history! Porter belongs to another time and place. It is an ale that is really hard to narrow down as it kept transforming through the ages. Porter ale may have been one of the first beer blends ever created. I have decided not to try to make porter at this time, but rather, to attempt my first beer blends. Why wait for aging when some other brewery can age it for you? Face it, brewing 3 separate beers that are to be mixed together is a lot of work. So, for this blog entry I'm just mixing a variety of commercial beers together.
There is dispute about porter's real history today. Formerly, porter was predominately composed of a brown malt with a toasty taste. Porter ale could be a mixture of pale, amber, brown and black malts at various percentages of either of those malts. There was no really right nor wrong about either combination and the mix kept changing through generations.
C. Process and Development
Porter was the result of the development of brown Hertfordshire malt and the "entire" process which combined the mix from the first, second and third runnings. Before, only the first runnings were used to make beer. Hops, sometimes, was soaked in the 160 F mash before being boiled to derive more flavor.
D. Stories and Tales
1. One story has it that brewery owner Ralph Harwood had created it in 1722 after patrons had been blending their own concoction named "three threads". This blend was a combination (1/3 each) of mild young ale, stale aged brown ale and sweet pale ale that was called twopenny. This blend was named "Mr. Harwood's Entire" or "Entire Butt."
2. Another tale that was passed down was that it was an pale ale, brown ale and old ale mixed by pub drinkers
E. Beer Blend Ratings Test
1. Tried mixing Ten Penny Bit Scottish Ale from Old Nation Brewing, Bass Pale Ale and Newcastle Brown Ale (mix 1/3 each in a brew pot): gave this mix 2 out of 5 stars
2. Favorite blend so far - (1/3 each) Old Stock Ale by North Coast Brewing, Bass Pale Ale and Newcastle Brown: 4 stars out of 5 for this one
F. Conclusions, Obstacles and Future Considerations
My beer blends may not have really captured the absolute true spirit of porter ale, but I think I got some idea about the complexities that can be accomplished by blending your own beers together. The hardest part was trying to find an old ale in my local area. I'll have to try a mix with Founder's Curmudgeon Old Ale as soon as it becomes available again. I had forgotten that Bell's Brewery makes a Third Coast Old Ale - this is worth a try also.
G. Great Food Pairings
My porter went well with smoked gouda cheese pictured above. It also went well with those macadamia chocolate chip cookies.
H. References and Further Reading
Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink by Randy Mosher
Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales & World-Altering Meditations in a Glass, Randy Mosher
The New World Guide to Beer (Completely Revised and Updated Edition), Michael Jackson