It’s been four weeks and it’s time for a proper tasting of the Pepperrell Porter. I have the BJCP open for comparison, but I really don’t know how much I want to conform to the “12.B Robust Porter” definition they provide and how much I really want to depart from it. Anyway, this is how it tastes!
Aroma: Lots of really rich roasted malts and light burnt character. A little caramel, a little chocolate, and a little biscuit. It has almost an “Oreo” biscuit and chocolate thing going on, with a little almost vanilla character too.
Appearance: Very dark brown with some red highlights around the edges when held to the light. Fairly clear, though I was super careful in pouring this one. My head retention is pretty poor on this, which is one of the main things I want to tweak with the recipe.
Flavour: Lots of that burnt, black malt and a big roasty dryness. Only very light sweetness and a very slight bitterness. Could be more bitter and slightly less dry for me. There is a certain sharpness from the dark grain making it a little acrid (the BJCP says “May have a sharp character from dark roasted grains, although should not be overly acrid, burnt or harsh”). I think I might be pushing this line a little, but I kinda like the big sharp roasted malt. Part of me wants to pair it down to be more style appropriate and part of me wants to ramp it up a little or pair it with some smoked malt to give it a more “old-time-y” smoky and burnt malt character. There is a really great biscuit and cream kind of aftertaste which I really am quite happy with, I just wish it was around in the body a bit more.
Mouthfeel: I’m a little thin here, which is the other biggest thing I’d like to change. Its a little hot too, but it might have gotten a little to warm when fermenting. Part of me, again, likes the lighter body on the porter to distinguish it from a stout. It’s got that dry porter “pull down,” so for me this is a porter and not reaching over into stout territory.
Overall: I think bulking the mouthfeel and the head retention up would make me much happier with this beer. I also would like a little more American hop character in the aroma, just a little bit of pine maybe. I’m quite happy with this as an overall beer though and I think this will be one that I tweak and re-brew to make it a standard house recipe.
Any suggestions? What direction should I head when tweaking this beer? I’d love some feedback.