Jon Talkington brews for Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware. He’s also a 16 year home brewer and has a passion for making mead. His beers and meads have been used in heathen rituals in the Northeast United States for years.
Oaky Smokey Porter is my annual Yule feast beer and is meant to be shared amongst friends and kindred members. When I created the beer I was looking for a dark, roasty, smokey base beer with the citrusy and piney flavors of juniper. To that end, I chose to combine Finnish Sahti, Gotlandsdricka, and Baltic Porter. Finnish Sahti is a traditional beer brewed with smoked malt and juniper. At one time they lined the mash tun with juniper branches, which acted as a filter bed when running off the wort. They also used bread yeast to ferment the beer. Gotlandsdricka is a juniper beer similar to Sahti but they use birch smoked malt and age it in oak barrels. Baltic Porter is a beer reminiscent of an English brown porter but with higher alcohol content and complex, multi-layered flavor. They can also be referred to as Imperial Porters and heavily roasted versions as Imperial Stouts.
My hybrid of the three, Oaky Smokey Porter, uses Scottish peat smoked malt, juniper berries, a variety of pale and dark malts, as well as buckwheat honey and then aged with French oak chips. It is an opaque, deep black with a tan creamy head that laces the glass. The aroma is reminiscent of a campfire – smokey with hints of pine and citrus from the juniper and hops. The beer has a thick mouth feel with a smooth finish, tasting slightly smokey, malty, with the flavors of juniper subtly lingering on your tongue. The oak-aging smooths the beer out and adds a subtle vanilla character.
8 lbs American 2-Row Pale Malt
2 lbs Scottish Peat Smoked Malt
1 lb Belgian Special-B Malt
8 oz Chocolate Malt
8 oz Black Patent Malt
8 oz Roasted Barley
1 oz Palisades Pellet Hops
0.5 oz Palisades Pellet Hops
0.25 oz Palisades Pellet Hops
1 oz Crushed Juniper berries
1 tsp Irish Moss
2 lbs Buckwheat Honey
11 grams Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast
2 oz French Oak Chips
Starting Gravity: 1.080
Final Gravity: 1.020
Heat 4 gallons of water to 165° F. Add grain and mash at 150-152° F for 1 hour.
Mash out for 10 minutes at 168° F.
Sparge slowly and collect 6 gallons of wort.
Bring to a boil and start your time.
Add 1 oz of Palisades, boil 60 minutes.
At 15 minutes left add the 0.5 oz Palisades, Juniper berries, and Irish Moss.
At 5 minutes left add the 0.25 oz Palisades.
When the boil is over add the 2 lbs Buckwheat honey. Turn off the heat.
Chill wort and transfer to your fermenter, pitch the 11 grams Danstar Windsor Ale Yeast.
Ferment 8 – 10 days, then rack to secondary and age on 2 oz French Oak chips for one month.
Prime and bottle or keg.