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This Was True Popular Porter From The Past
This is #2 of my Homebrewer Beer Challenge series. I've not come to a conclusion, but offer you a chance to get in on my beer experimentation.
I loved a past article from Craft Beer & Brewing over the debate of the difference between Porter and Stout. I started on this research for about 2 years now, due to demands in my work, that I haven't had a chance to write too much lately. I will try to cite several references that I thought were missed in that previous article.
Everyone questions the historical beginnings of porter. A lot of parents can relate to when their kids first started cooking in the kitchen. Just like a child's first recipes in a kitchen, those historical recipes for porter were probably not the greatest in taste. Over time during the 1800's, Porter became very popular. German Porter emerged somewhere between the middle and late 1800's and it may have been to get in on that Porter craze coming out of England. One expert noted German Porter had 2 styles: one style was malty and sweet while the other was a hoppy and crisp version. By the middle of the 19th century, porters and stouts were pretty much formed from the same pale and roasted malts. Porter had originally surfaced in the 1600's in London with the availability of brown malts. Daniel Wheeler's roasting kiln invention in 1817 lead to the creation of black patent malts which would change the taste for a lot of beer. William Robert Loftus, in his book, The Brewer: A Familiar Treatise on the Art of Brewing, dated 1856, states that true porter comes from having a portion of amber malts present in the grain bill. We have the historical accounts of this beer being shipped from England to America. During the 1700's in early America, stout was a word that just meant strength of the beer, with records showing it to be 1 barrel per 336 lbs of malt. (At this time, barrels were 42 gallons for wine, molasses and other commodities). Common brown ale was made with the same amount with the weight of malt divided among 2.75 barrels. Strong beer, also called Double, was 10% or more alcohol and 3 times the cost of a Middling beer. Table beer was 5-6% alcohol and may been the American Middling beer. Stout also came to mean black, strong beer at some point for the world. The black beer may have emerged when the black roaster came out. America's President Washington was known to love his malty porters from England (his presidency term puts a time frame on this from 1989 to 1797.)
So, what is my take on all this? Just like everyone has got a different beer recipe in different towns, I believe there were 2 real popular porter recipes when the brew was most popular in Europe. Stout, or something called Stout Porter, may have been a measurement of the strength of a porter beer. So, if it was porter and it was strong enough, it may have been a stout-strength porter. Sweet, malty German porter - England's copycat - should have been dark, from brown and amber malts. Reports were that porter was not very efficient at converting itself into alcohol with an almost 100% brown malt grain bill. By the mid 1800's, variation can be seen as it was reported that there were many versions of porter around the country of England. It is possible that the drier, hoppier version would eventually take on the stout name containing just pilsner and black patent malts.
Intuitive View of the Past
Unlike other authors who just gather facts from various sources, I'm going to be a little daring and fathom a unique guess as to what was in the most popular porters or stouts of the past. I've used gut feelings for over 20 years now and I've followed a whim at times to come up with what I feel may be the truth. I've also been reading up on spices for my side interest in cooking. Dr. Stuart Farrimond has written a great coffee table type book, Spice: Understand the Science of Spice, Creating Exciting New Blends, and Revolutionize Your Cooking, on the popular spices with lots of pictures and information. Also, editor Alison Candlin has a wonderful book called The Spice Companion. Our local bookstore now carries the quarterly magazine, fermentation, showing readers how to ferment everything from bread to drinks. The Winter 2019 issue carried an interesting article by Jereme Zimmerman about porters and stouts.
So, here goes my intuition results. Many writers have contemplated how stout or porter actually started, but what about those really popular porters and stouts? What was in them? A lot of spices and non-malt ingredients went into these drinks prior to England's crackdown in the early 1800's. They were trying to make sure brewers weren't adding all these impurities to the beer. My spice books have shown me that caraway seeds were used, since the Middle Ages, as a common ingredient flavoring in alcohol. Licorice has been manufactured in liqueurs across Europe since the 19th century; it was a primary sweetener before sugar plantations came out. Also, coriander was in wide use until the 18th century where it was limited to distilling and beer brewing. Facts are out there that show spices that were used in the beer brewing for hundreds of years. Here's where I go out on a limb to show you what my intuitive gut instinct says: Cardamom was used in 75% of those popular porters. Caraway seed was used in 50% of those porters and only a third of those porters carried the clove spice. Licorice was the primary sweetener and was probably in 100% of those popular porters. These spices complement a sweet porter. On the side of those popular stouts, black pepper was used in 75% of the most popular porters and coriander was in 60% of those stouts.
You can scoff at my intuition, but I've followed it for years. I believe it is a starting point to making some incredible beers of the past which included spices. These spices could have really been central to a great tasting porter or stout. I've got this planed for my brewing experiments for the future.
My recipes follow and you can tinker with as you see fit. The spice amounts are starting points that came from my intuition also.
I am used to making 1 gallon batches of beer because I tire of the same taste over time. If you make 5 gallon batches most of you will know how to increase the ingredients respectively. These are merely starting points and based on your tastes you may want to change the spice load for these to get the batch tasting just the way you want it. If there is a spice you don't like drop it altogether. I leave water profiles up to you as so many brewers know how to modify their brew waters.
Pure Popular Porter
50% Amber malt (records show this made the true taste of porter)
40% Brown malt (predominate grain at the time)
10% Mild malt (sweetness for dark beers)
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1.5 Tbsp Caraway seeds (crush them fresh)
1/4 Tbsp Clove
2.5 Tbsp Licorice
Fuggle or Kent Goldings hops (strive for 15-20 IBU)
WLP002 or WLP005 for a malty, sweet porter
(While this may not be efficient - see how much alcohol you can get by just increasing the grain bill, use chalky hard water for this version, 1.75 pounds of grain per gallon of water).
Spent and Forgotten Stout
15% Black Patent malt
85% Pale or Pilsner malt
1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
1.3 Tbsp Coriander
Fuggle or Kent Goldings hops (strive for 40-50 IBU)
WLP039 or WLP038 for a dry, crisp stout beer
(We are aiming for that early roasted black, patent flavor. Dry, crispy water similar to the water that is best for making Pilsner, with a ratio of 2.5 pounds of grain per gallon of water).