This one is a robust porter. I hesitate to tell you the “secret” ingredient in this one because it will affect your perception of it. Either you won’t taste it at all, or that will be the only thing you taste, instead of it being a background note, hopefully, adding to complexity. But I’m sure I’ll give it away in the end.
A robust porter is a fuzzy style that is stronger and darker than a normal porter. It is approaches the stout style, but it doesn’t quite achieve the same roast character. I went the American side of this style sticking with the cleaner American yeast and American 2-row pale malt as the base.
This is another one where the malts took center stage. The malt bill was ~14 lbs of pale malt (base grain, cleaner malty base), 1.5 lbs of Munich malt (toasted malt flavor), 1 lb Crystal malt (caramel, slight sweetness, better head retention), 0.75 lb chocolate malt (not really chocolate, of course, but the flavor and black color) and 0.5 of black patent malt (sharp roast flavor, black hole blackness in color).
The hops were in the background, but I played with them a little. I used East Kent Goldings (UK) hops for 60 minutes in the boil and they were mostly for bittering, almost some floral aroma may have snuck through. I also did some early first-wort hopping (putting some hops in the mash when I was soaking the grains to extract the sugars necessary for the boil and the beer.) I was shooting for that early addition to give the beer a more rounded hop bitterness and flavor.
Speaking of the mash, I held these grains at 153 degrees for 60+ minutes before the sparge into the pot for a 60+ minute boil. That temperature is a little high but intentional in that I wanted some of the sugars to be unfermentable so the finished beer would be thicker and smoother.
This one was brewed at the beginning of September and it has taken a while to calm down and mellow. It is ready to go now, but it you want to let it age for a while, it will get better.
Feedback is nice. (“It was good” or “It sucked” are feedback. Not the best, but better than silence.)
Returning empty bottles are always good.
The secret ingredient? A vanilla bean. This one is temporarily called the Thrillah with Vanillah.