Rich Creamy Porter and Stout (Part III)

In my previous two parts, I discussed the late 19th century blending practices of some Irish and British porter brewers, by reference to various texts and other sources.

One book I had read years ago, but didn’t come to mind until the other day, was James Steel’s 1878 manual, Selection of the Practical Points of Brewing and Malting. It’s an interesting book, clearly the work of a non-scientific brewer, as most then were, and one with very definite views.

Steel was a Scot, I assume, as the book was published in Glasgow.

He was insistent on the need to long-age porter, so old school in this sense. He believed also that draught porter should be blended with unfermented wort (or barely fermented if you follow his instructions closely). See his discussion from p. 80, here.



He believed that the base of the mix should be well-aged, but allowed that some mixes used young porter as the base.

Where young beer is used, he advised 90% and 10% wort (filling he calls it). For his preferred mix, it was 80% old beer and 20% wort. So this is a bit different from Frank Faulkner’s discussion that we saw, as he blended old beer, young beer, and wort.

However, all these are variations on a theme, as brewers’ practice evidently was as Steel states London porter brewers generally did not add the wort themselves, rather London “retailers” did.

Of course writing as he was from the outside, and in Scotland as well, he surely was not privy to all London porter methods. Still, overall his discussion supports what seems to be, by 1900, the approved way to deal with porter and stout: charge it up with gas via the wort addition and serve from unvented casks.

Steele states, another of his views, that serving porter without this conditioning – more or less how cask porter would be served today – produces a lesser pint. A matter of opinion again, but Guinness’ practice today, long after the two-cask system of the 20th century passed, still ensures a creamy pint.

Guinness remains in this sense (and not only that of course) a true custodian of history.

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