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Monday, April 18, 2016

Brew of the Month, April Edition: Spencer's Spring Porter

By Max Spencer

To me, spring is about earth. I cherish when the wind first carries the scent of wet dirt and the herbaceous aroma of freshly emerged plants every year. With the first days of spring here I wanted to create a beer that I felt embodied the primal essence of the season. After a fair amount of deliberation, I decided to make a dry porter with mint and star anise in honor of spring.

While mint is primarily used in winter beers, I feel it is more appropriate in a springtime ale. In addition to a cooling sensation on the palate, fresh mint adds a lot of herbaceous flavors beyond the one-note taste found in mint gums and toothpastes. Star anise adds another layer of complexity by providing earthy and spicy tones reminiscent of licorice or fennel.

The resulting brew poured opaque dark brown with a solid beige head. The mint and anise dominated the nose, lending the pleasant spice and earth tones I was looking for. Anise and chocolate flavors from the malt kicked off the palate, finishing strong with bold herb and spice notes derived from the mint. The body was dry and effervescent from the addition of honey, which I felt was appropriate in attempting to illicit the effect of a cool spring breeze. I enjoyed this brew and the process of designing it. The mint and anise worked great together and added a level of complexity without taking away from the beer itself.

All Grain ($38.87)

    • 5 lbs. of Munton’s Maris Otter
    • 5 lbs. of Breiss Pale 2-Row 
    • 1 lbs. of Crisp Pale Chocolate
    • 0.7 lbs. of Breiss Caramel 60°L
    • 0.5 lbs. of Breiss Chocolate 
    • 1 lbs. of Non-Pasteurized Honey

Extract w/ Specialty Grains ($39.26)

    • 5 lbs. Breiss Pilsen Light LME
    • 1.5 lbs. Breiss Amber LME
    • 0.8 lbs. of Crisp Pale Chocolate
    • 0.6 lbs. of Breiss Caramel 60°L
    • 0.5 lbs. of Breiss Chocolate 
    • 1 lbs. of Non-Pasteurized Honey

Boil / Hops

    • 0.25 oz U.K. Challenger @ 60 minutes
    • 0.5 oz U.K. Challenger @ 30 minutes
    • 0.75 oz U.K. Challenger @ 15 minutes
    • 0.5 oz U.K. Challenger @ 5 minutes
    • 2 oz fresh mint @ 5 minutes
    • 2 oz star anise @ 5 minutes
I preferred the beer as is without extracts, but if the two ounces of mint and anise are not enough for your own tastes I would recommend using the anise and/or spearmint extracts from Beanilla ($7.59 each). Be careful when adding these extracts as a little goes a LONG way. I suggest investing in a pipette ($0.99) and adding a few drops at a time followed by a gentle stir until it tastes how you want it.

The staff at Siciliano's is always eager to answer your homebrewing questions. Stop by for help developing custom-made recipes like this one!

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