The first of the five batches -- and one of the two 'novelty' batches -- I'm making for this year's Vice City. This recipe is a bit more than 'novelty' as it's also an offshoot of my experiments in porters that use a significant amount of brown malt in the grist. I believe that I came up with this recipe after the somewhat disastrous Historical Brown and it incorporates the improvements that I thought that beer needed: a lower percentage of brown malt combined with a larger percentage of sweet specialty malts.
Because brown malt has such a strong nutty flavor, I thought it would pair well with malts that provide honey flavors, hence the golden naked oats and honey malt. I haven't ever used honey malt before, I'm interested in seeing just how much flavor it provides.
I've switched yeasts from the 1318 to the 1335, which is more neutral for an English yeast. I liked it when I used it on my Surly Bender clone, and I thought it would work well here.
The recipe is straight forward, so brewing was only complicated by the unknown evaporation rate of my new kettle and my ongoing experiment in whirlfloc usage. Efficiency was weirdly low, but that was easily remedied with some DME. It's always useful to have some DME around! Evaporation came in at 18-19% per hour, which is a lot higher than I expected. Because of that, OG was a couple points high and post-boil volume was a couple liters low. Should be easy enough to correct for next batch.
With this batch I used just 1/4 of a tablet (600 milligrams) of whirlfloc. My whirlpool and chilling procedures remained the same -- chill the wort, start a whirlpool, let the kettle sit -- covered -- for 20 minutes, rack to the fermenter. As far as I could tell the wort was crystal clear and I had significantly less fluffy trub than in my previous batches. Most of the trub had compacted into a nice small cone at the bottom of the fermenter. This is a significant improvement.
The open question is if this batch is more prone to hazes or spoilage due to proteins left in the wort that a larger dose of whirlfloc would have removed. Haze might be hard to spot since this is a pretty dark beer. But spoilage should be easy enough to catch. I'll be kegging this beer when it's done fermenting and it'll be sitting at ambient basement temperature until July. That's not optimal storage, so it should highlight any spoilage problems.