How to make porter

While Ben McCormick explores the dark and mysterious history of porter in iPad issue 3, he's also been kind enough to share his own adapted recipe of the ale that's proving popular on many a taste bud

Illustration: Louise Wyatt

Illustration: Louise Wyatt

This all-grain recipe is one I adapted from a Kernel Brewery Export India Porter, which itself was a homage to a porter brewed by the Durden Park Beer Circle – a society founded to resurrect old beer styles. 

It is designed to be brewed on a 23-litre set up, so can be scaled up or down accordingly. Best racked in bottles, although it could handle kegging. Once bottled, leave for at least three weeks to condition. Can be kept for several months afterwards and develops different flavour characteristics over time. 


Grain ingredients

4kg Maris Otter pale malt

1kg Crystal malt

1kg Pale Chocolate malt 

1kg Chocolate malt

500g Caramalt


*Mash at 67°C for 75 minutes, assuming 2.5 litres of water per kg of malt.

*Sparge with 74°C water.

Boil for 90 minutes.


Hop schedule

At start of rolling boil: 15g Magnum  

15 mins from end: 4g Chinook and 4g Columbus 

10 mins from end: 16g Chinook and 8g Bramling Cross

5 mins from end: 39g Challenger

*Flame-out: 18g Chinook


Ferment at 20°C for 10 days.

Dry hop with Columbus and Chinook pellets three days before bottling.

*Prime with 3.5g sugar per litre.


OG: 1073 

FG: 1022

ABV: 6.8%


Brewing glossary

*Mash: steeping grains in hot water to extract the sugars that will eventually be turned into alcohol by the yeast

*Sparge: rinsing the mashed grain with more hot water to maximise the amount of sugar in the 'wort' (wort being the liquid that results from the mash and sparge)

*Flame-out: the point at which you turn the boiler off, generally a good time to add hops for aroma

*Prime: adding sugar to the beer before bottling so it carbonates naturally while bottle conditioning


You can read a history of porter in iPad issue 3, available to download now. 

Ben McCormick seeks out the extraordinary in his three main fields of interest: beer, cycling and music. He regularly pens articles for Caught by the River and Ransomnote as well as two blogs.