Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Polecat Porter Tasting

Standard on left, eised version on right.
It’s rare that I brew the exact same beer twice:  typically if I am doing a re-brew, I’ll tweak something in either an attempt to update the beer more to my liking or to try out a new process/flavor ingredient.   My original Baltic porter exceeded my expectations though and instead of trying to create an even better beer, I wanted to replicate the original so that I could proudly serve one of my favorite beers that I’ve made at NHC.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be the case this year…or at least in its intended form.

Although the standard version turned out to be a great tasting beer in its own right, it’s certainly not my original Polecat Porter and probably is a far cry from even being classified as a Baltic porter.   For whatever reason, the beer is lacking in the malt depth/complexity that the original possessed, the color is slightly lighter, and the body is much weaker than it should be. 

I try to keep thorough notes when I brew and after looking over both brew sessions, it appears as though my processes were identical.  It’s possible that I accidentally left out or incorrectly measured a malt, but  I’m starting to think that maybe the difference lies in the brand of malts that I used.  I never really recorded this in the past and, as an example, with SRMs of chocolate malt ranging from 350 to 600 depending on the maltster, not using the exact same grain as before really can alter the outcome of the beer.  I’m not sure if this is what happened with my beer in or not, but going forward, you can bet that I’ll be recording all of this information so that I can eliminate this variable should the problem rise again.

The good news is that, while technically still not a Baltic porter, the eised version turned out be fantastic.  Since my standard version is still lagering uncarbonated in the fridge, I plan to eis the entire keg.  It may not be the original beer that I intended to serve at NHC, but it’s a unique option and one that I think a lot of people will enjoy.

Standard – Very clear, dark brown with a sort of ruby highlight when held up to the light.  Sandy head that fades quickly.
Eised – Very clear, more of a dark chestnut color, almost tobacco, and less of the ruby highlights.  Very difficult to get any head.

Standard – Very clean and smooth with a mild chocolate flavor.  Quite a bit of soft fruit flavor from the Special B, but not in a sweet way.  Almost no roast, but there is considerable breadiness and slight toffee notes.  Clean bitterness without any hop flavor.
Eised – Compared to the standard, there’s less chocolate and more toffee/caramel.  Slightly sweeter too, but not overly so or in a cloying manner.  There’s also some warming alcohol, but no heat whatsoever.  Very rich flavors, but they’re extremely smooth and have meld together quite well.

Standard – Too thin and dry to be categorized as a Baltic porter.  Sample was carbonated too quickly and needed more time to really integrate well.  No astringency.
Eised – Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation that kept the beer from being too heavy on the tongue.  No astringency.

Standard – If I didn’t tell  you that it was supposed to be a Baltic porter, I think it would be a highly enjoyable beer….sort of a  nice, malty lager with background chocolate flavor.  To me though, it’s completely flawed because it’s not what I wanted it to be and it's hard to get past that.
Eised – This beer is great…loads of layered flavors with rich complexity.  It’s totally different from the base beer, and as expected, my original intentions, but in its own right, it’s unique and highly enjoyable.

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