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.


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