Holiday Brews – Two takes on a robust porter

This year’s holiday ale is based on a Robust Porter recipe, but one the two halves of the 10 gallons were halved, each faces a different fate. The first half was inoculated with my regular Fermentis dry ale yeast. It will be infused with cold-press espresso roast coffee during secondary, and will likely get quite a kick from it. The second half was pitched with Wyeast British Ale yeast, and will be put in to secondary with bourbon soaked oak chips. Both will have some pretty strong constituents, so I hope that this base recipe will be robust enough to support such big flavors.


  • 18 lbs 2-row
  • 1.5 lbs chocolate malt
  • 1 lbs Crystal 60L
  • 1 lbs Munich
  • 0.5 lbs roast barley


  • 1.5 oz Glacier @ 60min (4.6% alpha)
  • 2 (ish) oz Glacier @ 10min


  • Irish moss @ 50min
  • Safale S05 in one
  • Wyeast British Ale Yeast in the other
  • lightly toasted oak chips soaked in Maker’s Mark
  • TBD amount of Portland Roasting’s Espresso roast

I’m still working out the details on how much coffee to add. Talked to a brewer and have been reading about other home brewers’ experiences. Plus, there’s a lovely step-by-step to cold-press coffee on America’s Test Kitchen.

As an FYI, the O.G was 1.062, and no less than 10 people stopped by to comment how good the the wort smelled.

Non-Alcoholic Decaf Coffee Beer

Your options for non-alcoholic beer are very limited. You either get a lager that tastes like nothing, a lager that has oxidized and is skunked, or you get one of two pseudo ales. First is Kaliber. It is wretched. Moving on, you have O’Douls Amber, my wife’s choice (and mine) among NA beers. But after a while, even the best NA beer really gets old. The “maltiness” is too sweet so you desperately try to make it a little more balanced by adding hop oil. However, this is easy to overdo, and sometime you need a non-hoppy malternative. Enter Coffee Brew.

Take roughly 1/2 to 1 oz of cooled decaf coffee and add to 6 oz of O’Douls Amber. You may need to adjust the ratio to your taste, but it’s a decent option for dark, cold winter nights when a skunked lager won’t cut it.

Full disclosure: Michelle doesn’t actually like this mixture, and since she’s the one stuck drinking it, her opinion is probably more important than mine. Still, I think it’s a passable alternative, and the “malt” flavor of O’Douls and the coffee aroma and taste almost make you believe you’re having a delightful coffee stout. Almost…