Monday, March 21, 2011

I've Seen All Good Maple Bacon Porter

This past weekend, AfroDan Progressive Brewers celebrated the grand opening of one of two new brewing facilities: AfroDan North, in Medford. It felt good to brew again, since we'd been idle for almost a year, following the closing of our Somerville facility. Our latest endeavor, however, signals that we're back, and possibly better than ever.

The new business plan remains true to our mission of brewing only experimental beers. Now, though, we'll be doing so out of two different facilities, with AfroDan South set to commence operations in Quincy in about two months.

Our latest creation is, quite possibly, our most experimental to date. The brewing partner has been itching to add meat to one of our brews for quite some time—citing the fact that his wife's uncle uses steak in his wine making—but, needless to say, I've been resistant. However, when he suggested bacon, I finally gave in.

It didn't take long to decide that a darker beer would work better with this experiment, and somehow the idea of a maple bacon porter just sounded right. It turns out, we're not exactly on the cutting edge, but a little research on brewing with bacon was helpful in understanding just how we should employ this specialty ingredient.

So, here's our recipe for a five-gallon batch:

1/2 lb. crystal malt - 90 L (steeped 20 mins.)
3/4 lb. chocolate malt - 350 L (steeped 20 mins.)
1/4 lb. black patent malt - 500 L (steeped 20 mins.)
8 lbs. light malt extract (boiled 60 mins.)
3 oz. Kent Goldings hops - 4.5% alpha (boiled 60 mins.)
1 oz. Fuggles hops - 4% alpha (boiled 15 mins.)
5-6 oz. crispy cooked hickory smoked bacon (added to fermenter)
1 1/4 cups maple syrup (for priming)
1 1/2 oz. British Ale yeast

mmm...bacon :)
The brewing took place on Saturday at AfroDan North, of course. While the brew pot was boiling, we oven baked the bacon, drained as much of the grease away as we could using paper towels, and then cut off as much of the excess fat as possible. Then, once the brewing process was complete and the yeast was pitched, we also added the bacon to the fermenter before sealing it.

Following a period of fermentation, we'll be bottling, of course, but with an added to speak. For those of you who don't home brew, priming is the process of adding a solution of sugar and boiled water to the fermented beer just prior to bottling. The extra sugar added during the bottling process is what gives the beer its carbonation.

But, other sugary substances can be used for priming as well. So, we'll be substituting 1 1/4 cups of maple syrup for the standard five ounces of priming sugar at bottling time. The end result we're looking for is a slightly sweet, but still nicely balanced, maple bacon porter. Hopefully, the maple sweetness doesn't overpower the smokey bacon goodness, but all we can do now is wait and see how it turns out.

Of course, once again, we've borrowed the name of the beer from one of our favorite prog-rock pioneers. With our signature beer being named after King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" and a Rush song being the namesake of another of our brews, we figured it was time to pay tribute to Yes. So, in case you haven't figured it out already, I've Seen All Good Maple Bacon Porter is inspired by one of Yes's classics, "I've Seen All Good People."

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