Smoked Baltic Porter – Iron Brewer Competition Beer

I’m in the third round of the Iron Brewer competition, which was started by Peter from Simply Beer.  The concept is really interesting and, much like the Iron Chef show, there are mysterious ingredients that you need to use in the batch.  

In Round 3, the required ingredients are:

1)       Centennial Hops

2)      Vanilla Beans

3)      Smoked Malt

In all honesty, smoked beers are the only styles that I haven’t gotten my head around just yet. But I decided to homebrew all of the BJCP styles a few years ago and I needed to get to these challenging beers eventually. This friendly competition is the perfect reason to get my feet wet. 

So, in looking at the possible beers I could make, I immediately thought of a smoked porter or brown ale. But that honestly made too much sense. I know a few of the other brewers in this round and they make very good beer. The pressure was on so, I decided I needed to do something bigger and more foolish. In other words, I needed to go big or go down trying.

In looking at the hot trends, Great Divide and Surly brewing both make a smoked Baltic porter. That proposes a few problems. I didn’t have any frame of reference for concocting a recipe, I had never tried either beer, and Baltic porters are actually lagers which take longer to make and age than the timeline of the Iron Brewer round allows. For all those legitimate reasons NOT to make it, I decided I had to make a smoked Baltic porter.

Looking at the broad breakdown of the Surly Smoke, I used that beer (which, again, I’ve never tried) as the springboard for my Iron Brewer entry. It veered away from the traditional Baltic porter ingredients in favor of American 2-Row malt and some amount of flaked oats.  I decided to use those grains but, also, to pull in a more traditional base malt like Munich and the required smoked Bamberg malt. I could have gone small on the Bamberg, but I wanted the smoke to be apparent and not hidden behind the other ingredients.

After that, using the centennial hops for bitterness and the vanilla bean at the end of the boil were simple decisions. And, although I could have made the smart move and gone with a San Fran lager yeast for a faster steam-like fermentation, a chose the Saflager 23 since I had little time to build up a huge liquid yeast starter.

So the final grains where American 2-Row, flaked oats, smoked malt, chocolate malt and Munich malt.

The mash was uneventful and lasted 70 minutes at 150 degrees.

Mmmmm. Rolling boil.

It was pitched into a 6 gallon carboy and shot with pure oxygen before pitching the yeast.

The recipe is listed below, but I’m not sure what final tweaks I will put on this batch. Depending on the taste of the beer, post-fermentation, I may add some oak, which would complement the vanilla. I might siphon off a gallon and dry hop that with bacon, as well. 

Recipe: Smoked Baltic Porter
Style: Other Smoked Beer

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 17.50
Anticipated OG: 1.075 (Plato: 18.15)
Anticipated SRM: 37.4
Anticipated IBU: 52.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

9.00 lbs. Pale Malt (2-row)
2.00 lbs. Munich Malt
5.00 lbs. Smoked (Bamberg)
0.50 lbs. Flaked Oats
1.00 lbs. Black Patent Malt

One Step Mash Held at 150 F for 65 minutes
Batch Sparge

60 Min Boil
15 Min One Whirlfloc Tablet
10 Min 1/2 tsp Wyeast Brewer’s Choice Nutrient Blend
10 Min One Vanilla Bean (Sliced in half, scraped)

1.75 oz. Centennial Pellet 8.00% 60min.
0.50 oz. Willamette Pellet 5.00% 15 min.

2 Packages of Saflager S-23
60 Sec of pure oxygen
Starting fermentation at 53 F
Diacytel rest when 80% fermented
Lagering as long as I can


5 Responses to “Smoked Baltic Porter – Iron Brewer Competition Beer”

  • Vanessa Says:

    I’m excited to try this! Brent and I seem to be in the lucky position of being in rounds 2 & 3 of Iron Brewer, so we get to try both rounds 🙂

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Thanks, Vanessa.

    I’m looking forward to trying all the Round 3 beers, and I hope mine turns out well.

    As the send date gets closer, let’s talk. Perhaps we can trade a few other homebrews at the same time.

  • Bacon Beer? Yeah, THAT Just Happened | Barlow Brewing Says:

    […] Iron Brewer beer turned out great, but simply bringing together the three disparate ingredients of centennial hops, […]

  • Alex Says:

    Hello, I’m a fan of your site and enjoy reading about your creations. I’m interested in making a smoked beer for the first time, and I’m curious to know how this particular recipe turned out. Was the proportion of smoked malt appropriate or too overpowering? Was lager-ing essential to the final taste, or do you think it would fair well as an ale? Thanks and excellent site!

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Hey Alex,

    This beer turned out great. It actually got a bronze medal in the first round of the National Homebrew Competition last year , which was a very cool surprise.

    I thought the amount of smoked malt was appropriate, but I’m not a huge fan of smoked beers. (But I’m learning.) It was not overpowering in any way and, if you are really into the smoked flavor, you could add a little bit more. And I don’t know if lagering was essential to the beer. The ones that went to the Iron Brewer contest only lagered a few weeks (such is the short timeline of the competition) but the rest of the batch lagered an extra few weeks.

    I’m not sure how it would do as an ale. Probably less clean and a little more fruity. It would be an interesting experiment. If you do it, let me know how it goes.

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