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Smokehouse Porter

Porter 5.7%
Bottle conditioned, in 660 ml bottles.
Release date 10 August 2013.

Back by popular demand, this distinctive porter utilises the same oak smoke that produces delicious kippers and bloaters at Jonas' 165 year-old smokehouse in Chapel Street, Cromer. Both the Maris Otter malt and the Centennial and Wakatu hops were suffused with the flavours of the smokehouse for three days. I have the recipe right now and it fermented to a very satisfying 5.7%. One kilderkin was dry-hopped with Mozaic which proved to be an excellent decision as it adds to the fruitiness and complexity. I would do that again.

Notes on the first release, December 2012

A subtle aroma of hops hits the nose as you sniff the bottle. It pours with a tan head which quickly diminishes to a ring. As you draw some of the liquid into your mouth the hops make themselves known on your tongue and into the back of your nose as you swill it around. Then the backbone of clean malt comes in, warm and comforting. As you smack this around your lips you are aware of a sweeter, gingerbread flavour from the molasses; not a cloying sweetness but a subtle adult sweetness that lingers and then, on the back of the tongue comes the smokiness from those smoked wild hops. Then you burp and the wonderful wild hoppiness is enjoyed a second time around.

At 3.8% this is a session beer, although it is only available in bottles. It is flavoursome, well balanced and invites you to drink in draughts and quaff it down. The flavour lingers on the palate.

This was the first brew in the Poppyland Brewery, using a borrowed Russian Doll brew kit. Just 180 litres were produced. Pale malt, chocolate malt and a little black went into the copper plus one solitary kilo of locally smoked malt and some molasses went into the copper. Wild hops, gathered in October from a bank at Upper Sheringham were used for dry hopping but this had a twist, for they were frozen while green and then just before brew day they were smoked in Jonas's ancient smokehouse in Chapel Street, Cromer. They went into the first cask and then stewed in the beer for three days prior to bottling. The other two casks will have similar treatment but with smoked Centennial hops.

I have to admit that the final gravity of this beer puzzled me. It was still in the high twenties, yet it didn't taste too sweet. The strength was a disappointment though and this was commented on by one of my retailers. So having bottled off 90 of the 3.8% I decided to blend a quantity with a heavier beer of 6.5% and release it again under the same name but a new label. This is the huge advantage of having labels printed at Chevertons in West Street, Cromer. Their laser printing is excellent and they can produce just as many as are needed and often on the same day that I take in the memory stick. So a change of label is not a problem.

The resulting blend after priming becomes Smokehouse Porter 5.7% and while it retains the smokiness of the original it now has greater body and more sweetness and aromatic citrus hops. I am very pleased with the result and I hope you are too. The 3.8% version will be offered to pubs in Cromer, where they prefer not to offer really strong beer to their customers. At the time of writing it is available at The Red Lion Hotel, Cromer.

This beer was released in early December 2012.

See my blog about the making of this beer.


Martin Warren, The Poppyland Brewer