Today I brewed the White House Honey Porter extract kit from Northern Brewer. It’s in the 50’s in the DC area, so the colder weather is on its way, making a robust honey porter a great beer to put on rotation. I like to brew all grain because of the flexibility and creativity that comes with fully brewing your own beer, but some days I want to make a beer quickly, and extract brewing allows anyone, with minimal equipment, to do that. You get all the ingredients, measured in the right amounts, along with a brew sheet, to complete the brew day. Almost all brewers start out extract brewing, and then some advance to all grain, but extract kits are still a great option for all grain brewers who want to make a quick brew.
This recipe was developed by the White House staff, and brewed using homebrewing equipment purchased by President Obama. It is likely the first time beer was brewed at the White House (although there are indications beer was stocked at the White House during prohibition)! You can watch a video of the White House chefs creating the first batches here.
Because the beer has a higher estimated gravity (OG of 1.054), I created a yeast starter (you can read about that here). The kit came with specialty grains, which I steeped as the water temp raised to 170 degrees (beyond that the grains will release tanins, which you don’t want). After steeping specialty grains, I like to put them in a strainer and rinse them with hot water over the boil pot, since there are still a lot of good fermentable sugars hidden in the grains.
Once the liquid began to boil, I added the liquid malt extract and honey, and brought the wort (pronounced ‘wert’ the term for unfermented beer) to a boil for 60 minutes. There were only two hops (nugget and hallertau), added at three different times – it is a porter after all. I added Whirfloc during the last 10 minutes (for the first time), which is supposed to aid in beer clarity, although it doesn’t alter the taste at all. Note: I like to put my liquid malt extract bottles in hot water prior to adding them (see the photo below), because of how thick the malt extract is. The hot water helps to get the molecules running a little faster and aids in pouring it into the boil a lot quicker!
After cooling the wort, I aerated it (which is important to help the yeast ferment the sugars into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol). I then pitched my yeast (the term for adding it to the wort), and it is currently fermenting. Although this one calls for a secondary fermentation (to be discussed in a future blog post), I plan to keep it in primary for about 3 weeks before transferring to a keg.
A honey porter should have a robust body with toasted flavors, perfect for the holidays, so I’m looking forward to trying this one. And, what better recipe to drink around the holidays in Washington DC, precisely where this recipe was developed!