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George Washington's Porter

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I was out at a local, historical landmark this weekend called the Jean Bonnet Tavern.  They have been selling beer and food since about 1762 and it is a cozy place for either lunch or dinner.  Being a historical place, they usually have at least one "period" type beer on tap.  I was able to enjoy a Yard's George Washington Porter.  So, I thought it would be fun to post George's original recipe.  Basically, it is just hops and molasses and I added a few things that I would do.
To Make Small Beer:

Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste.
Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot.
Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask - leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working - Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed. F for 7-10 days. Cool and consume.
Things that I would add to the recipe:
Barley Malt
Chocolate Malt
Biscuit Malt
Roasted Barley
My Recipe for George's Porter
I worked this recipe out on my Promash software.  I haven't brewed this one yet, but it will be one that I try during the fall.  This recipe makes a 3 gallon batch or about 1 case of beer.
3.5 pounds Amber liquid malt (1 can)
1 ounce Biscuit Malt
4 ounces Chocolate Malt
1 ounce Roasted Barley
4 ounces Molasses
1 ounce Cascade hops
.5 ounces Fuggles hops
Irish Moss
Original Gravity 1.050    
Hop IBU's  25
Crush the Biscuit malt, Chocolate malt, and Roasted barley and steep for about 45 minutes.  Strain and pour liquid into your brew kettle.
Add enough water to your brew kettle to make 2 gallons of liquid.  When the liquid has reached about 140 degrees, slowly begin to add the Amber malt.  Make sure you stir while adding since this will prevent scorching the malt.
Once the wort has begun to boil add the Cascade hops.  After 15 minutes of boiling, add the Fuggles hops and Irish moss and continue to boil for another 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes of boiling, begin chilling down your wort.  Once the wort is cool enough, transfer to your primary fermenter and add enough water to make bring it up to 3 gallons.
Pitch your yeast.  Use whatever yeast strain that you are comfortable with.  I use Doric yeast and it seems to make a very good beer.  Personally, I pitch my yeast at about blood level, the same as George, which is anywhere from 98 - 100 degrees.  I also do an open fermentation for the first 12 hours before sealing it up.  I usually let my beers go through a week of primary fermentation before either sending them to a secondary or bottling them. 
Sounds like an interesting beer to make.   I think my recipe would be taste better than George's.  So, if you do brew the old recipe with just molasses, let me know how it tastes..

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KermodeBear said...


Just ran into your blog. I've been doing home brewing off and on (more 'off' now that I've moved into an apartment... *sigh* Electric stoves are WORTHLESS), but I have been intreagued by the molassas porter for a while.

Samuel Adams makes a very good one, I recommend it if you haven't tried it.

As far as the plain old water and molassas... I keep several one gallon glass jugs around for small batch experimentation and I've been wanting to try this out for a while. I'll probably start it this week and I'll TRY to remember to let you know how it turns out.

Bad memory, I have. (o:

Anonymous said...

Hi. Did you ever try the original Geo. Wash. recipe? How did it turn out? Is it really an all-molasses brew? I thought I had misread it, or that the grain bill was missing. Please e-mail me at



Ben said...

Never tried it nor have I even try to make it. I do remember someone e-mailing me saying the the did, and it was awful compared to tady's standards.

Anonymous said...

When do you add the molases. I never saw that and I do not know where or when to add it?

Grace and peace!

Ben said...

You can put the molasses in during the boil or if you want a more molasses taste, put it in at the end of the boil.

Andy Groomes said...

I auctually brewed this recipe (your version, not George's) and I cracked my first bottle of it last evening, it is fantasic. I'm glad I took a chance and brewed a recipe off a blog!

AEC said...

A lot of people seem to misunderstand George Washington's small beer recipe. The first two ingredients are often confused as one. It should be "Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran" PERIOD "Hops to your Taste." In other words, take a sifter of bran (wheat bran was a common Colonial America adjunct), and then use as many hops as your palate likes. This recipe was written for himself in a kind of shorthand.

bobkatzz said...

AEC - out of HUNDREDS of posts on this subject, including the brewery intending to make a batch - you are the only one that got it right. Must be many of these folks don't cook. Most recipes are written line by line or a combination but

Take a .. . . .of Bran
Hops to your taste.

is totally logical recipe jargon. So you are right - it was not intended to be "Bran Hops".

Garbhchù a' Chuain said...

Please excuse my ignorance, but can you cite the reference from where you took this? I am trying to track down his pumpkin ale recipe and have no knowledge of his writings.


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