Porter Recipe : Brewing A Modern Version Of An Old Favourite

This is my first porter recipe. It includes several malts and great smelling wort.

robust porter black malt

For some time I’ve been planning to brew a porter. It’s a style I’ve always liked and one that’s well suited to home brewing.

It’s not often available in pubs which gives some logic to the idea of creating a homemade version.

What is Porter?

Porter is another one of those legendary brews, as popular with beer folklorists as IPA. It was developed in London in the eighteenth century and is named after the workers who enjoyed drinking it.

As one of the first industrially produced beers, it was sent to pubs ready for drinking. Previously they were shipped fresh, leaving landlords to store and mature the beers themselves.

After enjoying great popularity porter more or less died out in the twentieth century, having morphed into stout. However, it’s since been resurrected and is now a popular brew once again.

Brown Malt and Porter

Porter is dark beer, somewhere between brown ale and stout on the colour spectrum.

It was originally brewed entirely from brown malt, which gave it its colour as well as a distinctive flavour. Although brown malt is still sometimes available today, it is unlikely that it recreates the flavours of those early beers.

I recommend this great article on The Perfect Pint to anyone interested in learning more about the particular characteristics of brown malt and early porter recipes.

Brown didn’t yield as much fermentable sugar as pale ale malt, so over time porter evolved to be brewed with a base of light malt. Darkness was achieved instead with black patent malt, an innovation in brewing made by roasting malt almost to the point of burning.

Typically, other malts are also used to provide complexity and body.

My Recipe

The recipe below follows the later traditions and is built around a pale ale malt foundation.

Munich malt contributes sweetness, which caramel malts add to at the same time as enhancing the body. Finally, black malt puts in extra colour and a little roast flavour.

Porters are generally lightly hopped. This recipe uses English Kent Goldings at the end provide a little local flavour.

My recipe was adapted from one by Randy Mosher, author of an excellent resource book (Radical Brewing) that is currently my first port of call for advice on recipe design and brewing history.

Porter Recipe

Fermentation Period
14 Days

Recipe Volume
15 litres

Start Volume (Brew in a Bag)
21 litres

Pale Ale: 2.6 kg
Munich: 0.6kg
Crystal 30L: 0.40kg
Crystal 60L: 0.08kg
Black Patent: 0.15kg
(O.G.: 1.056, F.G.:1.016)

Mash Time
90 mins

Mash Target Temperature

Nugget (12%): 9g for 90 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 5g for 20 mins
Kent Goldings (5.3%): 20g for 5 mins
(30 IBUs)

Danstar Windsor Dry Yeast Rehydrated in 200ml water at 35°C for 30mins

Recipe Notes

The above recipe assumes 60% efficiency.

robust porter mash

As already described, black patent malt creates dark beer with minimal use of (more expensive) speciality malts.

It can be bitter and should be used with caution – it is usually balanced with less aggressive grains. I included some 60L caramel malt that I had around, but you could easily substitute that for extra 30L.

The relatively high mash temperature should create a full bodied beer by extracting a high proportion of non-fermentable sugars.

robust porter spent grain

Although the grains appear light in light in colour, very similar to an English ale, I’m hoping the black malt will bring out a dark brown beer.


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  1. Josh

    Is there an update on how this beer turned out?

    • John

      This is the nearest to an update.

      It was a pretty good brew that I made a couple of times again. In the end it turned out fairly brown, perhaps not as dark or roast as you may be expecting from a porter, but it was certainly a tasty beer.