How To Brew a Deliciously Malty English Porter

English Porter

The English Porter is a dark brown, moderate-strength English ale that is known for its wonderful chocolate, caramel, and malty flavors. It generally has a restrained roastiness and bitterness, particularly when compared to the American Robust Porter. The 2021 guidelines for this style of beer are below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.040 – 1.052
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.014
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.0% – 5.4%
  • Bitterness: 18-35 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 20-30

English Porter Ingredients

Malt

The English Porter has a slightly more complex grain bill than most of our recipes, but it is worth it. For our base malt, I always use Maris Otter, which imparts rich malty, nutty, and biscuity flavors. The Maris Otter makes up about 72% – 75% of our grain bill. To this, I add:

  • 8% – 10% Brown Malt
    • Adds a rich coffee flavor and aroma, along with a nice mahogany color
  • 5% Dark Crystal (~80L)
    • Adds caramel, toffee, and a touch of sweetness
  • 5% Pale Chocolate
    • Adds chocolate, coffee, and a light roasty flavor, along with a nice color adjustment
  • 2% – 3% Black (Patent) Malt
    • Black Malt is surprisingly neutral and can darken the color without contributing hardly any roastiness or astringency.
  • 5% Flaked Barley
    • Increases body and head retention

Hops

For the English Porter, use a British hop such as Fuggle or East Kent Goldings. You want a medium-low to medium bitterness, but you do not want to dampen the malt profile too much. For this style, I find that a slightly earthy, spicy hop flavor and aroma help build up the complexity, so I add in between 15 – 17 IBUs at 60 minutes, 7 – 9 IBUs at 20 minutes, and 3 – 5 IBUs at 5 minutes.

Yeast

You’ll want a strain that has slightly lower attenuation to help build up the body. The following are good choices.

  • English Ale Yeast – WLP002 (White Labs)
  • British Ale – 1098 (Wyeast)

Water

Last but not least, the water. I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. The roasted malts have an acidifying effect on the mash, so you will want to consider adding a pH buffer to keep the mash pH from dropping too low. You can do this with baking soda and/or pickling lime. I aimed for a mash pH of 5.4. My water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 33 ppm
  • Sulfates: 35 ppm
  • Chloride: 45 ppm

English Porter Recipe

The following is a 5-gallon batch of an English Porter. The numbers for this beer are included below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.050
  • Final Gravity: 1.008 – 1.014
  • Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%
  • Bitterness: 27 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 27.1

Grain Bill

  • Maris Otter – 7 lbs (73.3%)
  • Brown Malt – 12.8 oz (8.4%)
  • Caramel/Crystal 80L – 8 oz (5.2%)
  • Pale Chocolate Malt – 8 oz (5.2%)
  • Flaked Barley – 8 oz (5.2%)
  • Black Malt – 4 oz (2.6%)

Hops

  • 1.00 oz Fuggle at 60 minutes (15.6 IBUs)
  • 0.75 oz East Kent Goldings at 20 minutes (7.9 IBUs)
  • 1.00 oz East Kent Goldings at 5 minutes (3.5 IBUs)

Yeast

  • English Ale Yeast – WLP002

Mash

Add your salts and pH buffer if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, it was 3 gallons at 163 degrees Fahrenheit. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.044. For me, it was 4.95 gallons.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in as needed. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my fining agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and then measure the gravity and pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.050. Ferment at 67 degrees. Once you are within 5 specific gravity points from your target FG, let the temperature free rise up to 72 degrees for the diacetyl rest. After 48 hours, cold crash to 33 degrees and hold for another 48 hours. Once your cold crash is complete, transfer it to the brite tank and carbonate it to 2.6 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it and enjoy!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another English Porter recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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