London-Style Robust Porter: Tasting Notes

Last Summer, I was on a English-style kick. I brewed a number of English inspired beers: bitters, IPAs and barleywines. Entering the Fall, I wanted to brew a big, full-bodied dark beer and age it in preparation for the looming Winter weather. Thinking English, I brewed up this Robust Porter, and fermented it using the Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast strain. In December, after 3 months of ageing, this beer mellowed and was very tasty. Now, after 6 months, this beer is even better. A review and recipe below. Cheers, and happy brewing!

Pouring into a standard pint glass, the London-style Robust Porter has an dark brown/black appearance with lasting creamy, tan head. The aroma is intense, comprised of dense, rich chocolate and fresh Kona coffee beans with hints of chewy caramel and pear-tree fruits. In tasting, the beer has more of the same: bittersweet chocolate, moist cake, and toffee. After 6 months, the finish is incredibly smooth with the bitterness nicely balancing with the malt sweetness. Fermentation was fairly neutral with low-level esters on the pear spectrum, reminding you of this beer’s English origins. Overall, the London-style Robust Porter turned out wonderful and intensely flavorful. This beer is quite similar to the Robust Porter served at 6-Row Brewing Co. in St. Louis, MO. I’ve brewed Robust Porter with American and Scottish yeast strains in the past, and I think I prefer the overall fermentation qualities of the London yeast strain. I’ll be making this recipe again soon, perhaps with a large portion of smoked malt!

Recipe Design
The essential parts of this Robust Porter recipe can be referenced in Jamil Zainasheff’s Brewing Classic Styles text. From this, I made slight changes that would adapt the recipe to suit my apartment-scale stove top brew system. For example, my mash tun can only hold about 8 lbs of grain. Thus, to yield my target gravity, I cut the recipe down to a 4 gallon batch. Beyond this, a good Robust Porter recipe starts around 1.060 OG, uses a quality American or British pale malt, and small additions of either chocolate or black malts to get roasty flavors. Above all, restrict use of roasted barley in your porter recipe, only because the resulting brew will taste stout-like instead of porter-like. On the fermentation side, any of the American or British yeast strains work well. For this brew, I used Wyeast 1028 London Ale, and for this recipe, I recommend it. Keeping the fermentation in the mid-60s will result in a characterful, yet clean brew.

Recipe: London-Style Robust Porter
4 Gallon Batch, all-grain
Stats: OG 1.065 FG 1.017 ABV 6.5% IBU: ~35, 85% mash efficiency

6 lbs US 2-Row
18 oz Munich Malt
12 oz Crystal 40L
9 oz Chocolate Malt
6 oz Black Malt
6 oz Carapils
6 oz Sugar

Single-infusion mash at 150 F 60 min, mashout at 170 F 10 min

Boil addition of Magnum to get you to 35 IBUs. Also, late hopping with EKGs

1 packet of Wyeast 1028, pitched and fermented at 65 F

Added 1 tsp CaCl to nice clean medium carbonate water

3 thoughts on “London-Style Robust Porter: Tasting Notes

  1. Great post, thanks. Good advice on the grain bill & interesting to hear your experience of the different yeast strains. Beer sounds very tasty too, by the way.

    Have been considering buying Zanaisheff’s book. Would you recommend?

    • Thanks! Porter is a versatile style when it comes to playing with malt, yeast, and hops. Jamil’s book is great. I bought it a year after I started brewing and is a great starting point for recipe design. Most of my “to-style” brews are not too far off from his recipes. Cheers!

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