Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave (unless you're English...)

I'm a big fan of history. I'm always curious about the way people lived and operated in generations past. I'm also (surprise!) a beer lover. So it's only natural that I would be fascinated by historical beer, brewing methods, and beer recipes.

As far as beer is concerned, I'm partial to the English and to English beer. Which is fortuitous, because there is no other country as obsessed with its own beer history as the English (seriously, Germans are just amateurs by comparison.) So it was with great delight that I learned of the International Homebrew Project organized every year by This is a unique opportunity to bring back some old recipes from breweries long gone, brew them up together, compare notes, and see how tastes have changed over the course of time. Plus, you get beer out of it :)

This year's recipe is a 1834 Porter recipe supplied by Ron Pattinson and Kristin England from the historical brewing blog "Shut up about Barcley Perkins". This porter recipe starts out at 1.066, but under attenuates to to FG of 1.022, and only 5.9% abv (nowadays, a beer with OG of 1.066 would be about 7%). What's more, it has a whopping 82 IBUs. I know many IPAs that don't go that high.

Point is, this is going to be a very different beer than what we're use to calling Porter nowadays. When I try to put this into beersmith it breaks the style definitions for any of the modern porter styles, and rightfully so, since it's not a modern style. Notice, for example, the description of the beer as having a lot of tannins - something that would be considered a flaw in a modern beer, but was accepted and expected in a beer of the time. Indeed, it is possible that without all the tannins this beer would be too cloying to drink, but the tannins dry the palate and get you ready for more. So it's so-long cold-steeping the dark grain. This time they're going in the mash.

This year's IHP is scheduled for Feb 15th. I'll be brewing it a few days later. I'd like to extend a formal invitation to any and all who wish to, to join me. If there's enough people who do this, I might even host a tasting party in my house to compare notes. The recipe, again, is here:

Oh, and if anyone if curious about the title. Google it. ;)

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