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Keys to a good Porter?

Hey guys, thinking of doing a holiday themed Porter to be ready for drinking around Christmas. I’m looking for some advice on how to build a good recipe for one.

From the research I’ve done, it seems like the most popular base malt is Maris Otter. However, I’ve seen some interesting recipes where they use half Otter, half pale ale malt for a slightly lighter taste. I find that the best porters I’ve tried don’t have that aggressive roasty flavor many stouts do, so I may try to minimize those kinds of grains in this batch. Are rolled or flaked oats used for mouthfeel with this style, or is that exclusive to oatmeal stouts?

I’m also generally looking for a lower ABV, between about 5.5%-6.5%

Thanks for any help on this!

If you haven’t already, take a look at Ray Daniels ‘Designing Great Beers’ There’s a good section on Porters.
Here’s what I’ve learned for mine:
A base of MO is not absolute, but does help make it more authentic.
Brown malt, and Amber malt also help make it authentic. I use 1lb of each.
6-8 oz.of Biscuit malt is a good thing too.
Don’t be afraid to layer in some crystal malts, but keep the total amount below 1 lb. I use 4oz each of honey malt, C60, C120.
Use chocolate malt instead of roast barley. I use 8 oz, and make up any color deficencies with 1-2 oz. midnight wheat.
Flaked oats would not be inappropriate, but I haven’t felt the need.
I lighten up the heaviness by using 1lb. of honey. (Hence the name 'Loghouse Honey Porter").
English hops- I use Fuggles and EKG.
And finally, instead of an English yeast(I have used S-04, Nottingham and WY1084 in the past), try WY1450 Denny’s favorite 50. The more I use it, the more I am impressed by it’s versatility.


Thank you for the response! This definitely gives me a good perspective on how to start working on this recipe.

I’m still a little confused on the role of honey in brewing, as I’ve been seeing it in some other recipes for different styles. Is it only for flavor, or is it useful for other flavors? I wouldn’t want my porter to have a honey flavor for example.

Sorry for the delayed response. They didn’t name the storm, but Maine got hit pretty hard and power has been out for a while. (but at least not as bad as Puerto Rico)
I use honey in any recipe that calls for using sugar. Why? It’s certainly not cheaper. And I’m not philosophically opposed to using table sugar. But I do have a local source of honey that I try to support as much as possible.
Most of the time, I’m not trying to get any honey flavor or aroma, so I add it (usually 1/2-1 lb) late boil. If I really want some honey character, I would add it mid-late fermentation, and in the 2-3 lb amount. I add 1 lb. of honey and a little honey malt to my ‘Loghouse Honey Porter’ to lighten it up a tad and partially counteract the roastiness, and increase the OG (by 8 points per 5G batch).

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