Thursday, March 22, 2012

Marley's Ghost: 3 Months In

We are officially at the three month mark of my 2012 Christmas beer project—Marley's Ghost 1843 Christmas Porter. I conceived of this black beauty, in this past December's The Session. The week after Christmas I, indeed, did brew-up a batch of 1840s inspired Porter. While the yuletide has come and gone, the little carboy full of black deliciousness is still sitting in my home office, biding it's time, until its great reveal nine months from now, on Christmas Eve 2012.

Mr. Marley, you have quite an
impressive pellicle.
So what went into this ghost of a beer? Ron P. helped me out with that. After a little guidance from the guru of 19th century Porter recipes, I went with mild malt, brown malt, black malt and almost four ounces of East Kent Golding hops—in just 2.5 gallons of wort! I decided to use two yeast strains Wyeast London Ale (1028) and White Labs Brettanomyces clausenii—for a little tang and funk-ification. The dark malts and hop neutralizing Brett c, should help to balance Marley's Ghost's 125 IBUs—but that remains to be seen. I ended up low, in my original gravity, estimating 1.061 but hitting 1.056, however, two weeks of open fermenting, got me a final gravity of 1.010, keeping me at the 6.1% ABV mark I was hoping for. I may have lost a little sweetness, but what can you do?

Three months in, the beer still as black as midnight, but the Brett has kicked into high gear and a frosty-looking pellicle has formed on the surface of inky liquid. It smells sweet and malty, almost doughnut-like and there's a only a minimal hint of hop aroma. In the first few weeks after being transferred to the secondary, a bit of pressure built-up in the carboy. On two occasions I got a good pop as removed the bung to check on progress. I'm not sure if that was result of agitating the beer and getting a true secondary fermentation from the transferred Wyeast strain, or if the Brett was beginning its work. In any case, it's been still for at least two months, now.

So, three months down—nine to go. I'll give another update at the half way point, at the end of June. 

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