Monthly Archives: November 2012

India Porter Ale

The Story

This beer has Robert’s creativity written all over it. He has been sampling some black IPAs from Oregon, and paying considerably too much money for them. The local offers of black IPAs were considerably lacking. So when brew day rolled around on the weekend, he suggested to AJ they make a black IPA.

Widmer Pitch Black IPA

Despite the contradictory name (Black India ‘Pale’ Ale), Black IPAs are roughly as dark as a porter, but have all the hoppiness of an IPA (some Black IPAs are even darker). So we called our beer the “India Porter Ale”(India reflecting the hoppiness of the beer, Porter reflects the darkness of the beer). Other names for the this type of beer include Cascadian Dark Ale and India Black Ale. The chocolate malt required to make the India Porter Ale actually hides a lot of the hop bitterness. Compared to a regular IPA, considerably more hops are added to our India Porter Ale to get the same level of hop bitterness. We wanted the hop bitterness to shine above bitterness from the dark roasted malts. There was, however, one issue: we only had Munich Light as a ‘base malt’.

The Tasting

Appearance: Very dark, though slightly transparent. Strong, thick head. Nearly no signs of carbonation.
Aroma: Sweet, yet roasty malt. Very little hop aroma, as we did not dry hop the beer.
Taste: Initially a strong sweet, nutty taste, then bitterness, then the sweetness returns. Has an earthy taste throughout, with some acidic fruit tastes (like plum). Very malty, yet still bitter. Very thick body as well.
Overall: A surprising well balanced beer. The sweetness from the Munich malt is present, yet so is the strong bitterness of the hops and roasted barley. The beer constantly swings between very bitter and very sweet depending on area of your tongue the beer rests on. A very broad spectrum of flavours. The beer needs to linger in your mouth a while to get the full flavour. It is a very unique beer. You could not drink a lot of this beer, but is the ideal for sitting in front of a fireplace during a snowy winter evening.

India Porter ALe

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 74% extraction efficiency, ABV 6.4%, O.G. 1.062, IBU 113 single infusion mash at 66.5 Celsius for 50 minutes

This beer was made during a rather scares time at the brewery. Our January shipment from Gambrinus Malting Corporation in Armstrong was reaching its end. We had no Pale Malt for base malt. Thus we had to improvise. Thus we used Munich Light malt as a substitute, as well as some wheat malt to help covert the starch to sugar. Thus, this is going to be a very malty beer, despite all the hops we might try to add to it.

Grain Bill
Gambrinus Munich Light: 10 lb (This is our make-shift base malt because we didn’t have any Pale Malt. This will probably make the beer too malty, but whatever)
Gambrinus Organic Wheat Malt: 4 lb (because 14 pounds of Munich was just too much)
Carmel 70-80: 8 oz (to add some variety to the malty taste from the Munich)
Gambrinus Honey Malt: 8 oz (because we add it to everything, so why not this too?)
Chocolate Malt: 8 oz (to make it dark)
Roasted Malt: 4 oz (because Robert said so)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to make it thicker)


It will be nearly impossible to add enough hops to balance out the sweetness of the Munich malt. This will probably be a weird tasting porter, with few of the characteristics of an IPA.

Hop Schedule

To make this beer even remotely bitter, we loaded in the hops. 113 IBUs worth. The Cluster and Northern Brewer were chosen for their more piney/herbal characteristics, while Columbus was selected to add a grapefruit flavour for complexity.

75 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
20 minutes: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster
1 minute: 1.5 oz Northern Brewer, 1.5 oz Columbus, 1.5 oz Cluster

Fermentation Schedule

Primary fermentation: 7 days
Secondary fermentation: 21 days

We put this batch onto a yeast cake (Nottingham) from a honey brown ale and a blonde ale (thus this was the third use of that yeast). And it fermented like crazy. We actually lost 3 litres just due to crazy fermentation forcing the beer out through the airlock.


Honey Nut Brown Ale

The Story

In the BC craft beer industry, nearly every brewery has some sort of honey beer. The most famous is Sleeman’s Honey Brown Lager, but there are considerably more, such as Granville Island’s Cypress Honey Lager. Perhaps including the word “honey” in a beer title makes the beer seem more accessible, as if the “honey” aspects will balance out the bitter aspects. Honey beers just always seem targeted at people who probably don’t like beer.

To feel included in this very BC phenomenon of producing honey beers, we felt the need to produce some sort of honey beer. A lot of the honey beers we have tasted seem to be just slightly sweeter pale lagers (Arguments that Sleeman’s Honey Brown Lager is actually brown are invalid). We wanted to make a beer that was bold in its honey taste, a beer with a honey taste you could identify without being told it is a honey beer.

The Tasting

Appearance: Light Brown. It was still hazy at the time of tasting because it had not been aged long enough. Very stable, long lasting head, with very small bubbles.
Aroma: A light sweet aroma, almost sugary smelling. Slightly smelling of plums
Taste: This is a beer for people who don’t like beer. It is very smooth and thick, with no hop taste; however, a small amount of bitterness seems to come from the malt. The combination of lots of honey malt and munich malt result in a very sweet, dark fruit taste. The sweet taste most certainly lingers on the tongue for a while. A small nutty taste as well, probably from the honey malt. No grain or hop taste you normally get from beer.
Overall: It is not bad, but it isn’t great either. Maybe too much honey malt, but further experiments will still need to be conducted. It is very flavourful, but perhaps too much so.

The Process

Specifics: 23 litre batch, 82% extraction efficiency, ABV 5%, O.G. 1.049, IBU 43, single infusion mash at 68 Celsius for 30 minutes

From what we have read, honey beers do not get their honey flavour from real honey. Honey is nearly 100% fermentable. Thus in beer, honey mainly results in more alcohol, not a sweeter beer. Instead, honey ales get their honey flavour from Gambrinus Honey Malt, or Brumalt (the German version). Normally, people do not recommend making the grain bill for a beer more than 5% honey malt. In this beer, we wanted to experiment with how much honey malt we could put into a beer. This recipe contains 13.5% honey malt. This is us experimenting for all you homebrewers out there.

Grain Bill

Gambrinus Pale Malt: 4 lb
Gambrinus Munich Light: 4 lb (to add maltiness and we did not have enough pale malt)
Gamrbinus Honey Malt: 1.5 lb (to push the limits of honey malt in a beer)
Flaked Barley: 8 oz (to give the beer a thicker, almost like honey like feel; also to add smoothness)
Gambrinus Wheat Malt: 8 oz (to thicken the beer and add a good head)
Chocolate Malt: 2 oz (to darken the colour, and add a small toasty, chocolately, dark taste to the beer)

Hop Schedule

A lot hops were added to this beer, purely to balance out the sweetness of the malt, thus the hops were all boiled for longer than 30 minutes. At 43 IBUs, the beer should be still quite sweet.

60 min: 1 oz Northern Brewer
30 min: 1 oz Northern Brewer


7 days in primary
14 days in secondary

This beer ended up being very carbonated.  So much so that bottles of this beer turned into fountains of foam if they were not poured into a glass immediately. It is possible that honey malt takes longer to finish fermenting than 21 days, resulting in the beer to continue fermenting after being bottled. This might be something to take into account if you use plenty of honey malt in your beer.