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George Washington Porter - Revisted

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I got e-mail the other day from Kermode Bear at  He actually made a batch of George Washington's Porter and the e-mail tells of his adventures.  Of course, back in George's day they fermented just about anything, since most supplies were very limited.  A molasses beer probably did taste pretty good back then, but according  to K. Bear it sucks.  Well, anyways, he gave me permission to post his e-mail, so here it is.

I had been wanting to make George's porter for a while now, and I suppose that your blog entry was the catalyst I needed. Porter made. I fudged on the recipe a bit; I have several one gallon jugs for experiments, and when I experiment I'm much more liable to goof off; so the following is what was used for a one gallon batch:

1 gallon of water
15oz of blackstrap molasses
1/8 oz Cluster pellet hops, 7.2%AA
1 tbsp LDME, primer
1/5 packet Nottingham Dry Yeast (Yeah, I know...)

Starting Gravity: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.020

I'm not a big fan of hops; I like less hops and more malt in my beers. I  often cut them by a third in most recipes. He does says to my taste, so. I boiled for an hour, not three.

I also used more molasses than I should have, 15oz instead of 13oz, and it was added to the boil. I have not used molasses before, and I didn't research it like I should have, so I am not sure if this had any effect.

Nottingham dry yeast, the stuff that comes in the Brewer's Best kits, was my yeast of choice. I need to get rid of them somehow.

Fermented for ten days, bottled with 1 tablespoon of light dry malt extract. Fermentation was active for a few days and trailed off as usual, nothing extraordinary. I noticed very little krausen, but that is common with such small batches.

The result? Yuck. The molasses odor is, well, it smells like molasses, strong and pleasant - if you weren't planning on drinking it. Even with half the molasses, I think the molasses flavor would be far too strong. The hops are nowhere to be tasted, it is terribly bitter, and quite honestly, it sucks. I've had three sips so far and I'm not going to continue. The molasses is just overpowering.

I have all the respect in the world for President Washington, but this just didn't work out for me.

What would I change in the future?

The bulk of the fermentables would be malt; Molasses and brown sugar added for some flavor, perhaps a bit of cinnamon or cardamom.

Samuel Adams makes a great molasses porter, by the way. Highly recommended over what came out of my batch. (o;

-K. Bear
Thanks K. Bear for the run down on your experiment.  Maybe the next experiment will be better.

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Greg Giglio said...

I'm with you on the issue of molasses. Out of curiosity, with one of my first homebrews I used brown sugar instead of corn sugar to round out a recipe from a kit. Little did I know that the molasses in the brown sugar, along with the glucose, doesn't ferment all that well. The beer was interesting but too sweet for my taste and I ended up pouring most of it out. Still, it's fun to try old recipes and see how they turn out! Plus, with small batches you're not really putting a whole lot of money into it.

JFab said...

Seriously, who the hell do you think you are imposing your tastes on an historic recipe? I don't really give a tea party about your opinion as to whether or not George's ale "sucked" or not -- some of us want to make the actual brew without your "fudging". Back to Google. Tread you.


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