Making A Porter


My wife and I have been captivated by the Making A Murder series on Netflix which inspired my beer’s name and label.


I’ve been in an IPA rut (not that there’s anything wrong with that) so I decided to try a new beer style.  Since winter is right around the corner, I wanted something darker and settled on a Moose Drool clone recipe.  I found a recipe on HBT and tweaked it a little.

As usual, I try to introduce something new in every batch I brew.  Sometimes it’s technique, sometimes it’s equipment.  Prior to this brew, I purchased an inexpensive pond pump from Amazon.  I use an immersion chiller to get my hot wort down to pitching temperatures, but my ground water is approximately 76 F.  While the initial cooling stage moves quickly (going from boiling to 100 F), it takes a long time to get down to pitching temp from there, usually requiring refrigeration to get it down to the 60-66 F range.  I found an old tailgating cooler (pictured above) and filled it with ice and water to act as a pre-chiller.  I cooled the wort as usual, by hooking up my garden hose to the immersion chiller.  Once the temperature had dropped to around 95 F, I shut off the water and hooked up the submersible pump and the ice-bath pre-chiller to the immersion coil.  This worked much quicker than ground water alone.

Brew Date – 11/23/15

6 Gallons
Mash @ 154 F for 60 min
Batch sparge
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.25%

10.5 lb 2 Row
1.25 lb Crystal Malt 80L
0.5 lb Chocolate Malt
0.5 lb Oats, Flaked
0.5 oz Black (Patent) Malt

1.4 oz Goldings, East Kent FWH
0.6 oz Willamette 10 min
0.6 oz Liberty 0 min

WLP002 English Ale Yeast

Bottled: 12/27/15:  51 (12 oz) bottles and 4 (22 oz) bottles

Carbed: 1/10/16


The finished product!

This beer has a slight earthiness to it, perhaps from the English yeast, with a faint chocolate-ness and a little roastiness reminiscent of coffee. Some caramel notes round out the “brown” flavor.  I think the flaked oats really smooths out the mouthfeel, though, next time I’d like it to be a little fuller. I’d call this medium bodied.
*edit – After trying one that had been cold-conditioning for a week, I can say it tastes amazing!  Much like the flavors in chili meld over time, this beer has really gone from a collection of tastes and notes, to a harmonic symphony where everything plays well together.  Even the yeast has imparted an almost Belgian-like spice character which helps round out the flavors.  It’s seriously hard not to chug this addictive beer.  It’s very session-able.


**edit 2 (3/16/16) – So, I entered this beer in the 23rd Annual Peach State Brew Off looking to get some feedback.  A year ago (Fall 2014), I submitted my extract version of Murray Christmas to a competition in Colorado.  It was the second beer I’d ever made and I thought it was amazing.  Upon receiving my score (24) and the accompanying score sheets, though, I realized that my palate was very naive [glass shattering] (which is not always a bad thing) and after reading the critiques while drinking my beer, it became apparent that there were some flaws that came through in my brewing technique that the judges were able to perceive.  It was a little crushing, but, at the same time, you enter competitions for constructive feedback.

Fast forward to this competition; I hadn’t entered anything since, but I felt I had really honed my skills over the past year and this beer–at least to me–seemed to embody that improvement. Moose Drool is also a commercial example of American Brown Ale (19C) in the 2015 BJCP Guidelines, so I felt sure that this clone would definitely be “to style”.  As it turned out, my beer advanced to a mini-BOS round (being combined with American Ambers and California Commons) where it finished 2nd for category 19 (still waiting on the silver medal to be mailed) with a score of 37.5!  From a brewing perspective, that was quite an improvement from my last entry a year ago.  Needless to say, I was ecstatic by the results.

Categories: Brown Ale, Recipes | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Zombie Dust Clone(s)


Zombie Dustin & Cul de Sac Brew

I have been doing 5 gallon batches since I started home brewing in the fall of 2014, but after upgrading to a 15 gallon Spike kettle, I was ready to attempt a 10 gallon batch.  Since I don’t have a large fermenter, I was going to need two fermentation buckets.  As usual, I wanted to make a beer that I couldn’t easily get my hands on.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), a lot of big-time breweries in America do not distribute in Georgia, so I had a lot of amazing beers to choose from.  I settled on Three Floyds’ Zombie Dust, finding a great clone recipe from Bertusbrewery.  I took a cue from Scott’s post and used the two fermentation buckets to utilize different yeasts and different dry hops, essentially creating two beers from one brew session.


My first time doing a 10 gallon batch in a 15 gallon brew kettle.

I have never actually tasted Zombie Dust (precisely why I wanted to brew this), but from reading about it online, it seems to be a pretty hop-forward, citra IPA; even if 3F calls it an APA.

Fortunately, I had some neighbors over to assist with the brew day (hence the name of batch #2; Cul de Sac Brew) because I could not have lifted the kettle with 10+ gallons of hot wort without them (I don’t have pumps so I rely on gravity to transfer from each vessel).

Both beers turned out great.  Amazing citrus-y flavor from the hops and on overall fantastic IPA; I’ve seen several bloggers and posters claim this is their new house IPA.  However, when compared side-by-side, everyone tended to prefer the Cul de Sac Brew over Zombie Dustin [totally unscientific testing; completely anecdotal] which I attribute to the dry hop which Amarillo and more Simcoe.  I think the Citra on top of Citra from Zombie Dustin just didn’t ‘pop’ as much.  Cul de Sac Brew also tasted ‘smoother’.  It did spend more time primary as batch #2 since I bottled it 2 weeks after batch #1, so that could’ve been a factor as well.  Either way, they’re both great.

Here is the recipe for the 10 gallon batch with yeasts and dry hops listed separately:

Brew date: 9/7/15

12 Gallons
24 lb 2-Row
3 lb Munich Malt
1 lb Carafoam
1 lb Melanoiden Malt

1.5 oz Citra FWH
2.5 oz Citra 15 min
2.5 oz Citra 10 min
2.5 oz Citra 5 min
2.5 oz Citra 1 min

Batch #1 [Zombie Dustin] – 3L starter of Wyeast 1968
Batch #2 [Cul de Sac Brew] – 3 L starter of WLP002

Dry hop (batch #1) – 4 oz Citra/1 oz Simcoe
Dry hop (batch #2) – 3 oz Simcoe/ 1 oz Amarillo/ 1 oz Citra

Categories: IPA, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Murray Christmas 2015

Murray Christmas

I brewed an extract version of this Christmas Belgian Dark Strong last year which was a big hit with all who tried it.  It was such a fun beer to brew and drink, that I thought it would become a seasonal brew for me.  Now that I’ve moved to brewing all grain batches, I was hoping to make it even better this year.  My goal was to brew this in August or September so the flavors would have enough time to meld together before December.  Alas, life got in the way and it got pushed back to October November.  Oh well, if all goes well it’ll be pretty good around mid-December, even though it’ll probably peak early in 2016.

So on the first Sunday in November, I set out to brew this recipe for the 2nd time (first time I rebrewed anything) using the all grain method.  Unfortunately, I didn’t adjust my BeerSmith2 profile for my equipment and didn’t use enough water in my mash, so my 6 gallon batch turned into about a 4.5 gallon batch.  While it’s not fun to miss the mark, it’s all part of the learning process, and all the mistakes I make help reshape and hone my skills for future batches (see blow off pic below).


FYI, always use a blow off tube. This was 2 days after pitching and a violent fermentation. Fortunately, I caught it early and was able to avoid a messy clean up as everything stayed on the lid.

Now, I have recently been making yeast starters and have noticed the beers start showing signs of fermentation within hours of pitching.  Starting with a sufficient amount of yeast in good health can only improve the beer as they won’t be stressed out.  Here’s a handy calculator from Brewer’s Friend that I use to determine how big a starter to make and how many yeast cells I need.  Typically, I shoot for around 300 billion cells for most 5-6 gallon batches.  My starter this time only yielded about 200 billion cells, so I pitched an extra vial of yeast (100 billion cells) to be safe.  Because my batch turned out smaller than normal (4.5 gallons) and I was using a 6.5 gallon bucket, I was fooled into thinking I had plenty of head space and didn’t need to utilize a blow off tube.  A simple three piece airlock should be sufficient, right?  Wrong!  Whether it was the health of the yeast, the extra 100 billion cells, the warmer temperature (68-70F or so), or a combination of all factors, the fermentation took off vigorously and I came home from work after day 2 and found the krausen had blown through the airlock and spilled out onto the lid of the bucket.  Fortunately, that was the extent of the mess because I’ve read of other blow outs that left gunk on ceilings, floors, walls, surrounding furniture, etc.  Believe me, that stuff is sticky and difficult to clean up.  I cleaned the lid and the airlock, and then fashioned a blow-off tube to avoid any future problems, although, most of the fermentation had already taken place.


After cleaning up the mess from the blow out, I setup a blow off tube using the base of the three-piece airlock, 1/2″ tubing and container of sanitized solution.

My stats
Brewed: Nov. 1, 2015
Bottled: Dec. 1, 2015
OG: 1.083
FG: 1.010
ABV: 9.58%
IBU: 23.8
4.25 Gallons (33 bottles & 4 bombers)
Mash @ 149 F
Wyeast 3787 – 1 L starter (decanted) + smack pack (appx 300 B cells)

Recipe (6 gallons)
OG: 1.073
FG: 1.006
IBUs: 23.8
Color: 34.6 SRM
ABV: 8.87%
Boil: 60 min
Yeast: Wyeast 3787

12 lb – Pilsner 2-Row
1 lb 8 oz – Caramunich Malt
8 oz – Special B Malt
1 lb 8 oz – Candi Sugar, Dark
1 lb 4 oz – Corn Sugar (Dextrose)

1 oz – Coriander Seed
1 oz – Orange Peel, Bitter

2 oz – Hallertau @ FWH
1 oz – Styrian Goldings @ 30 min
0.5 oz – Hallertauer @ 10 min

(currently bottle conditioning)
edit: 12/22/15 – Not carbonated yet.  This one may take awhile as it’s high gravity and was cold-crashed plus fined with gelatin.
edit: 12/29/15 – Still not carbonated.  Also, I noticed some “floaties” in the bottles, but after chilling my test beer for 24 hours, the “floaties” settled to the bottom and I had a crystal clear pour…no carbonation, but no “floaties” either.  I’ll probably wait another month before checking again. 

edit: this took about 7 weeks to carbonate.  The final product is a very nice Belgian that finishes on the sweet side with hints of the coriander and orange peel. 

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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