Homebrew Batch #8: Matt Van Wyk's Patriot Porter

Until now, all of my homebrews have been extract-based. I've been really happy with them, but I've been getting bored. I decided it was finally time to take the next step and go all-grain. So I bit the bullet and bought the extra equipment (10 gallon brewpot, mash tun, burner, etc.) needed to do my own starch conversion and perform full 5 gallon boils. Armed with the proper gear, the next question was what beer to make?

I recently interviewed Matt Van Wyk, Brewmaster at Oakshire Brewing, and he adapted the recipe for his GABF award-winning Patriot Porter for my blog. It looks absolutely delicious! Since I wanted a darker, maltier brew for winter, I decided that this would be my first foray into all-grain brewing. Here's the full recipe for Patriot Porter. In general, I used all of the same ingredients. I modified the bittering hops slightly (swapped Magnum for Zeus) so I could use leftovers from my freezer.

Brew Log:

End of the mash.
Oct 9:  The big day! My first all grain brew! Long story shortit went well, but I made two mistakes. The first was during the mash. As I added the strike water, I got nervous when the mash temp quickly exceeded 160 degrees F. To compensate, I added an extra gallon of water to first lower, and then to raise the mash temp. I later realized that it takes a few minutes for the grains to absorb the heat from the water. So the temperature would of stabilized on its own if I gave the mash a few minutes to rest.

The second error occurred when I sparged the full volume of water. I should have reduced the volume to compensate for the extra water that went into the mash. Bottom line, my pre-boil gravity was a bit light at 1.04 (v. 1.06 target).

The boil was very straight forward. I felt comfortable at this point, because I was now in familiar territory. I added an extra 8 oz. of molasses to raise gravity a bit.  At the end of the boil, my O.G. was 1.053 (v. target of 1.063). I had an extra gallon of wort, which I sadly dumped.

I was a bit discouraged after my brew session because I didn't know what I did wrong. Anxious to figure it out, I hopped on Twitter and got some expert advice from Daniel Pollard, Brewer at Pelican Brewpub, who gave me tips on mash and sparge temperatures. One of the gems he gave me is not to collect any runoff below 1.008 (2 Plato). This just reminded me how cool "beer people" arealways willing to take the time to share knowledge and help others! Thanks a lot Daniel! 

The result of a long brew day

Oct 10:  This is the first time I used a blowoff tube. It's now bubbling.

Oct 11:  Primary fermentation is in full force. A nice krausen has formed at the top of the carboy and foam is shooting through the blowoff tube.

Oct 23:  Tested the gravity, which has settled at 1.012. Primary fermentation is pretty much done, but I've decided to skip secondary and let it rest in primary for another week or so.

Nov 6:  Bottle day. I bought a new autosiphon since I exposed my other one to to bugs from my last homebrew (Sour Cherry Ale). I've never had so much trouble racking. I didn't get a decent siphon and exposed the beer to lots of air. So I ended up using my lactobacillus "tainted" autosiphon. I like sour beers, but I hope this doesn't end up sour. The new autosiphon is going back to the store. Anyway, final gravity ended up at 1.012 and the beer is in bottles.  Based on my calculations, it should come it at 5.4% ABV and 42 IBUs. First taste is in 10 days!

Nov 16:  First taste! I heard an audible fizz when I popped the cap open. It’s deep copper in color and has a tan head that dissipated fairly quickly. Considering I bottled it 10 days ago, it has a decent level of carbonation. Aroma of roasted malt, coffee, and light alcohol. The flavor is similar to aroma. I’m surprised by the alcohol. I didn’t expect it to be noticeable in aroma or flavor. It also has some subtle fruity flavors. This isn’t ready for prime time and needs more time in the bottle. I’ve learned that a bit of aging can have a dramatic change in flavor—usually for the better.  I’ll try it again in a few weeks.

Jan 6 '12:  OK, I messed up on the beer. Just to be clear, it was my rookie mistake and not an issue with Matt's recipe (which won a GABF medal). Bottom line, this beer is way too dry because I didn't hit the target mash temperature of 152°F.  The first 15 minutes of the mash was 147°F, then I raised it about 4 degrees. Also, my OG was way under target. It has absolutely no malt sweetness. I don't expect it will improve over time, but I'll save some bottles and see what happens.

My execution of the recipe and even the bottling was bad. If you follow Matt's original Patriot Porter recipe, you'll be just fine. I'm going to try it again and will get it right. On the plus side, I've had a few people tell me the like it—they must love dry beer...

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  1. Next time you've got too much wort, boil more vigorously. You'll get more evaporation, and wind up with more, higher alcohol beer.

    If you're like me, you have no idea how much wort you've got in the keg (unfortunately). But it's a thought!

    Either way, as always, you'll still have beer.

  2. Good point, I should have boiled it a bit longer.

    Before my next brew session, I need to mark off a dowel that I can use to gauge the volume in the brewpot. That should also help to avoid wasted wort.

  3. How did it taste as it matured?

    The original Pullman is one of my favorites, very cool that Matt did this (and the original Pullman clone he helped Jamil with).

  4. Hi Ryan. I messed this beer up. It was my first all-grain attempt, I didn't hit my mash temp (among other errors) and it came out way too dry.

    Yes, it was awesome of Matt to adapt the recipe. He's a really great guy! I'm going to brew this beer and will get it right next time! Cheers!

  5. Thanks Sanjay.

    I'll brew this one in the near future and let you know how it turns out for me.

  6. Sounds good Ryan. Please let me know how it turns out for you. Cheers!

  7. Ok, so it took me awhile to source out all the ingredients (it seems hardly anybody carries all three Simpsons grains, many carry 2 out of 3, but not many carry all 3!).

    I hit my target starting gravity at 1.074. I messed up my refractometer calculation and ended up doubling the yeast about a month after brewing this, thinking I had not reached final gravity yet. So I ended up at 1.019 (roughly 18 brix to 10 brix).

    Once I realized my mistake, I immediately racked into a new fermenter, let it sit a week and then bottled. It seemed to carbonate well at 2.0 volumes of co2.

    Just cracked it open the other night and it tasted delicious. Quite boozy (with the fermentation issues this beer is debuting at 2 months), but it's an excellent tasting beer.

    I'm quite happy with the result and thank you Sanjay for publishing this and thank you to Matt for sharing this recipe.

    I originally was seeking out a pullman clone, found the jamil show recipe, but when I saw this I was intrigued and I'm now glad I went with this version of the recipe (it seems a good bit different from the pullman, more than I expected from the recipes, though my brewing faults probably add a layer of uniqueness to it heh).


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