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Baltic Porter

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2 years 2 months ago #5081 by Gash
Baltic Porter was created by Gash
Baltic Porter Article from BYO Magazine. Cheers!

I wasn’t very impressed with the first few commercial examples of Baltic porter I tasted. They were oxidized and a bit too sweet from long travels and time spent sitting on the store shelf. Then a friend living in Finland brought me every beer he could find with the word “porter” on the label. It was an eye opening experience and convinced me that Baltic porter not only was its own style, but a wonderful one as well.

In most examples, Baltic porter is a malty-rich, slightly roasty beer with a fair amount of alcohol. Its color ranges from dark reddish copper to opaque dark brown. Even though the beer often has an initial sweetness, it finishes drier due to the roast grains and bittering hops.

Some brewers wrongly assume that Baltic porter is just a bigger robust porter. Yes, Baltic porter is bigger, richer, sweeter and more alcoholic than robust porter, but robust porter is usually hoppier and roastier than Baltic porter. They really are two very different beer styles. In Baltic porter, the fruity esters range from low to medium-high. It can have a variety of esters, but the ones that fit well with the style are dark, dried fruit flavors such as raisin, prune, fig and currants.

There is also a lower gravity variant of Baltic porter, sort of like a cross between a brown porter and a classic schwarzbier. These lower alcohol examples generally have little in the way of esters, while the higher alcohol examples often carry lots of dark fruit notes. Malt character might include caramel, toffee, molasses, chocolate, bready or biscuit, and perhaps even subtle hints of coffee or licorice. Imported samples often have some Sherry or Port type notes from age and transportation stress, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that oxidation makes the beer better or somehow is part of the style.

While most examples are full-bodied with a touch of creamy texture, the lower gravity versions are somewhat thinner and with less apparent alcohol. In any case, Baltic porter should never be syrupy-thick or cloying and the alcohol character should never be hot or harsh.

There are recipes out there with various base malts, but I prefer to use a healthy portion of light-to-medium color Munich malt (6–10 °L) along with some continental Pilsner malt. This gives the beer a bready, rich background malt character. You can experiment with different proportions and different suppliers until you find the blend that works best for you. I use about twice as much Munich as Pilsner and have used Vienna malt instead of Munich with nice results as well. Extract brewers can use a light-colored, blended Munich malt extract with excellent results. All-grain brewers can use a step or single infusion mash as long as the saccharification rest is low enough so that the resulting beer does not end up too viscous. A temperature range of 149 to 154 °F (65 to 68 °C) works well. Use a lower temperature when using lower attenuating yeasts or high starting gravities. Use a higher temperature when using the higher attenuating yeasts or lower starting gravity beers.

While Baltic porter will have some roasted malt notes, the roast character should be restrained. Shoot for a character somewhere between a robust porter and a classic German-type schwarzbier. You want a dark, rich flavor with no highly burnt or acrid notes. The trick is to use de-bittered black malt for a portion of the grain bill. A little chocolate malt (1 to 2%) plus some de-bittered chocolate malt (2 to 3%) will provide a touch of dark malt character and a deep brown color. While the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines suggest no more than a dark brown color, judges seem to prefer beers on the darker end, even nudging their way toward black. You should avoid using highly kilned grains except in very small percentages, as too much will push the beer toward a robust porter or stout character. If you wan to differentiate your Baltic porter from others, try experimenting with different chocolate-type malts from different suppliers before adding a lot of higher color malts.

Another trick in developing the necessary rich malt character without too much roastiness is to add a little crystal malt. The sweetness of crystal malt adds to the perception of richness in the beer. For caramel flavors, I always use dark crystal (80 to 150 °L) as it adds those dark, raisin-plum notes that go so well in this style. I also like to include some mid-color crystal (40 to 60 °L), which adds some caramel flavors and some residual sweetness to help balance the bitterness of the roast grains and hops. Watch the total amount of crystal malt in your recipe. If the total amount exceeds 6% of the grist, it can result in an overly sweet and heavy beer. Remember that the goal is a little sweetness up front with a general malt balance and a dry finish. If the beer does not seem dry enough, it is going to be a poor example of the style. If you have already limited your specialty grains and still have trouble reaching a proper level of attenuation, replace a small portion of the base malt with simple sugar to help the beer finish a bit drier.

If you are looking for more complexity or increased head retention, you can add other malts as well. Wheat malt, Victory®, biscuit and more are common additions in many recipes, but restraint is important so that the beer does not become saturated with non-fermentable dextrins and cloying flavors. Keep the total of all specialty grain additions to less than 10%.

The hop flavor and aroma is restrained in this style. Late hop additions are acceptable, but they should not show up in the aroma and should not result in more than a moderate level of spicy or floral hop flavor. Typical hop additions for this style are Lublin or Saaz types. Any spicy or floral hop is acceptable as long as you keep the overall level of hop character within the limits. You can bitter with a wide variety of hops, whether it is spicy and floral or clean and neutral. Magnum is a nice choice if you want to use a higher alpha hop for bittering.

Baltic porter should have a medium-low to medium bitterness, and the residual sweetness should result in a balanced beer. The bitterness to starting gravity ratio (IBU divided by OG) can range anywhere from 0.25 to 0.5 or more, but I like to target approximately 0.4. I use less bittering in smaller beers and more bittering in bigger beers. Keep in mind that beers designed for long-term aging should target the higher end of the scale, as a good amount of the bitterness can drop out of the beer over time.
While Baltic porter should have some dark, fruity esters, it is similar to bockbier, where much of that character comes from the malt and alcohols, not from using an estery yeast strain. Try for a clean, cooler fermentation, focused on proper attenuation of the higher than average starting gravity. The most important aspect is avoiding hot, unpleasant alcohols or an overly sweet finish. You do not want the drinker recoiling from harsh alcohol. Instead, you want them to drink the beer and then feel a gentle warming as the beer settles in their stomach.

You can use a clean ale yeast at cooler temperatures, such as White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) or Fermentis US-05. These yeasts tend to attenuate well even in big beers and produce low ester levels at a range of temperatures. However, my preference is to use lager yeast, which tends to attenuate even better than these ale yeasts. White Labs WLP885 Zurich Lager, White Labs WLP830 German Lager, or Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager all work well in this style. If you are fermenting with lager yeast, use a cool fermentation temperature of 50 to 55 °F (10 to 13 °C). If you are using ale yeast, try fermenting around 65 to 70 °F (18 to 21 °C) depending on the yeast strain and recipe. Try to pick a temperature and stick with it. Controlling temperature is important to getting a proper level of attenuation and avoiding off-flavors, especially if you are making a bigger beer. Letting the beer go through large temperature swings can result in the yeast flocculating early or producing solventy and/or overly estery beers. However, raising the temperature a few degrees near the last third of fermentation will help the yeast clean up some of the intermediate compounds that were produced during fermentation and it will also encourage the yeast to complete attenuation.

Whatever yeast you use, remember that your fermentation conditions affect what flavors and aromas the yeast produce. Pitching rate, oxygen level, nutrients and temperature are like dials on your control panel of fermentation flavor. Starting with a healthy pitch of yeast, aerating or oxygenating and controlling temperatures are key to getting a well attenuated beer that allows the malt flavors to shine through. Tweak the parameters until you get it right.
If you are brewing a higher alcohol version, the beer will mellow and develop a bit of complexity over time. If you are making a smaller version, then it should be ready to drink when carbonated. For this style, I like to brew bigger versions and age it for three or more months. Time affects the balance and intensity of flavors, mellowing some of the harsher aspects and exposing some of the more delicate aromas and flavors. With time, it is also possible to develop vinous or Port-like qualities, which add to the complexity.

by the numbers
OG: 1.060–1.090 (14.7–21.6 °P)
FG: 1.016–1.024 (4.1-6.1 °P)
SRM: 17–30
IBU: 20–40
ABV: 5.5–9.5%

Zek’s Porter
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.089 (21.3 °P) FG = 1.018 (4.6 °P)
IBU = 38 SRM = 30 ABV = 9.4%

My grandparents fled Russia with one of them later being captured and imprisoned in the gulag after fighting against the Soviets. The colloquial name for a Soviet gulag inmate was “zek.” This recipe is for those who died under communism.

11 lbs. (5 kg) Durst Munich malt
6 lbs. (2.75 kg) Durst Pilsner malt
7 oz. (200 g) Great Western crystal malt (or similar) (60 °L)
7 oz. (200 g) Dingemans Special B malt (or similar) (140 °L)
5.3 oz. (150 g) Weyermann Carafa® Special II malt (430 °L)
3.5 oz. (100 g) Briess chocolate malt (or similar) (350 °L)
8.4 AAU Lublin hops (2.4 oz./68 gat 3.5% alpha acids) (60 min.)
2.94 AAU Lublin hops (0.84 oz./24 g at 3.5% alpha acids) (15 min.)
White Labs WLP885 Zurich Lager, White Labs WLP830 German Lager, Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager or Fermentis Saflager S-23 yeast

Step by Step
Mill the grains and dough-in targeting a mash of around 1.5 quarts of water to 1 pound of grain (a liquor-to-grist ratio of about 3:1 by weight) and a temperature of 150 °F (66 °C). Hold the mash at 150 °F (66 °C) until enzymatic conversion is complete. Infuse the mash with near boiling water while stirring or with a recirculating mash system raise the temperature to mash out at 168 °F (76 °C). Sparge slowly with 170 °F (77 °C) water, collecting wort until the pre-boil kettle volume is around 6.5 gallons (24.4 L) and the gravity is 1.069 (16.8 °P).

The total wort boil time is 90 minutes, which helps reduce the S-Methylmethionine (SMM) present in the lightly kilned Pilsner malt and results in less Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) in the finished beer. Add the bittering hops with 60 minutes remaining in the boil. Add the second hop addition and Irish moss or other finings with 15 minutes left. Chill the wort rapidly to 53 °F (12 °C), let the break material settle, rack to the fermenter, pitch the yeast and aerate thoroughly. The proper pitch rate is 30 grams of properly rehydrated dry yeast, six packages of liquid yeast or two packages of liquid yeast in a 10-liter starter. Ferment at 53 °F (12 °C) until the beer attenuates fully. With healthy yeast, fermentation should be complete within a week, but do not rush it. Rack to a keg and force carbonate or rack to a bottling bucket, add priming sugar, and bottle. Target a carbonation level of 2 to 2.5 volumes.

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2 years 2 months ago #5082 by Gash
Replied by Gash on topic Baltic Porter
Warszawski Porter Lodowy (Warsaw Baltic Porter)
Warszawski Porter Bałtycki (Warsaw Baltic Porter)
(5.25 gal/20 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.092 FG = 1.024
IBU = 64 SRM = 29 ABV = 9%

14.75 lbs. (6.7 kg) Pilsen malt
2.75 lbs. (1.3 kg) light Munich malt (6 °L)
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) Viking caramel 600 malt (600 EBC/225 °L)
14 AAU Marynka hop (beginning of boil) (1.4 oz./40 g at 10% alpha acids)
0.5 oz. (15 g) Marynka hop (0 min.)
Saflager W 34/70, or Wyeast XL 2278 (Czech Pils), or Fermentum Mobile FM31 (Bawarska dolina)
½ cup corn sugar (if priming)

Step by Step
Start by making sure your yeast count will be plenty. I used 3 satchets (33 g) of Saflager W 34/70 for pitching considering I wanted to ferment cold. If you plant to use liquid yeast, be sure to a big starter or repitch yeast cake from a session lager. Alternatively you could make a Baltic Porter like the early Polish Porter from the Royal Warsaw Brewery and use an ale yeast, which would require a lower pitch rate.

The original recipe makes use of lactic acid —for water with a pH of 6.2-6.8, use 8 ml. For water with a pH higher than 6.8 – 10 ml. Forewarning: Prepare for an extended wort preparation time due to decoction mash and long boiling time with hops — this should be taken into account when planning the brewing time. Suggested brewing pot capacity of at least 40 L (10 gal.). Be warned that many hours of boiling create huge amounts of steam so a very good ventilated room/kitchen is advisable.

There will be two mashes running concurrently. For mash I, add 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs.) Pilsner malt into 5–6 L (1.3–1.6 gal.) of water at 46 °C (115 °F). Keep the mash for 10 minutes at 45 °C (113 °F). Heat mash up to 52 °C (126 °F), add 1/3 of lactic acid and hold for 15 minutes. Heat up to 62 °C (144 °F) and allow a 15 minute rest. Heat up to 72 °C (162 °F) and hold to a negative iodine test (about 20 minutes). Heat up to boiling and boil for 20 minutes, stir so that the wort does not get burnt.

For mash II, add the remaining malts into 22 L (5.8 gal.) of water at 54 °C (130 °F). Add 2/3 of the lactic acid to the water. Keep the mash for 20 minutes at 52 °C (126 °F). Mix mash I with mash II. The temperature of the whole mash should stabilize at 62 °C (144 °F). If it is lower — heat up and provide a 20 minute break. Heat up to 68 °C (154 °F) and keep it for 15 minutes. Heat up to 72 °C (162°F) and hold to a negative iodine test. Heat up to 75.6 °C (168 °F). Sparge with 20 L (10.6 gal.) of water at 78 °C (172 °F).

Heat up the wort to boiling. Add 40 g (1.4 oz.) of Marynka and boil as long as it takes to obtain the desired 22 °Plato (1.092 SG). On our equipment it took 3 hours. After reaching desired sugar level, turn off the burner and add 15 g (0.53 oz.) of Marynka hops.

Make a whirlpool swirling the wort and let settle for 20 minutes, so the hot sediments and hops gather in the center of the pot. Chill the wort, then transfer the hopped wort to a fermentation vessel. Aerate the wort heavily.

This yeast is best added at a temperature of about 6 °C (43 °F), the temperature of yeast and wort should be similar. Primary fermentation should last at least 22 days at a temperature of 5—7 ° C (41–45 °F). Transfer to a secondary vessel that should last about 14 days. also at 5—7 °C (41–45 °F). The final gravity should be around 5.5–6.5 °P (1.022–1.026 SG).

Bottle prime using about 5 g table sugar or glucose per liter of beer (0.7 oz. sugar/gal of beer). After carbonation has been achieved, store about a week at room temperature, and then store in a dark room at the lowest possible temperature (minimum 4 ºC/39 °F, optimally 8–12 ºC/46–54 °F). Lager for 3 months. Our experience with this recipe is that this beer could be enjoyed already after it gets carbonated — the absence of roasted barley or black malts in the grain bill makes it possible, but of course the longer lagering the better (12 months and on reveal more complexity).

Optional: For creating the iced porter (Warszawski Porter Lodowy) we used the beer right after secondary fermentation. We placed 10 L (2.5 gal.) of the porter outside at roughly -18 to -22 °C (0 to -8 °F) in order to freeze. You could use a freezer at roughly this temperature. Allow to sit at this temperature for 3 days, then rack of in order to bottle.

Written by Artur Szudrowicz

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