Monday, March 31, 2014

#IHP2014 - The Drinking

It's fair to say that I really enjoy brewing historical beer recipes, and the International Homebrew Project is probably my favourite homebrew project each year. This year's IHP beer was a porter originally brewed in 1834, in Norwich in East Anglia, at a brewery called St Stephen's. 6 weeks ago I brewed by version of the beer, and last night I popped open a bottle...

As you can see from the picture, it pours absolutely jet black, absorbing the light, with dark brown edges, and a lingering light brown foam that lingers and lingers. Damn it looks inviting. The aroma is dominated by bittersweet chocolate and coffee, the classic roastiness of brown malt, backed up with a supporting cast of tobacco, spice, and earthy hops, and just a slight trace of booze.

The roasty theme continues in the taste, again a coffee element with a hefty dose of dark bittersweet chocolate chucked in for good measure, and a pronounced nuttiness, that made me think of a tablespoon of Nutella stirred into an espresso. The bitterness of the hops is very much present, but not in a grimace inducing way, the balance is surprising really.

This is one full bodied, velvety beer, which still has a little bit of boozy hotness which once is settles out will make it dangerously moreish. The thing that surprised me most about this porter is having a calculated 82 IBUs and yet it has a wonderful balance to it.

I imagine I'll be brewing this again at some point, probably when the nights start to draw in again after summer.


I will be posting links to other versions of the International Homebrew Project as I come across them, or am sent the link.


  1. I was surprised at the balance of my version as well. It shouldn't be anything like as drinkable as it is. It's interesting to note the differences between your description and my experience - I had less roast/coffee/cocoa and a noticeable cherry along with the hop presence and malt. I'm guessing a large part of that is the yeast. Either way, definitely one to brew again.

    Thanks for organising it!

  2. I was impatient enough that I sampled mine a couple of weeks ago (and I don't regret that one bit!). It sounds like mine is pretty close to yours in flavour.

    Here's the essential bit of my writeup:

    The final result is a bold, delicious porter. It’s deep, deep brown and so opaque in the glass that it seems almost black, but if the light catches it from just the right angle, it shows some ruby highlights. The aroma is full of dark malts, some chocolate, and a hint of toffee. The flavour — ye gods, the flavour. What I notice first is a luxurious mouthfeel, full of smooth, dark espresso, bitter chocolate, and some toffee. Almost immediately, though, that’s complemented by a bracing and spicy, earthy bitterness, which lingers on and on in a gloriously long finish. It’s really, really good. So good, in fact, that I’d probably even be tempted to choose it over a world-class stalwart like Fuller’s London Porter — unless, of course, the Fuller’s was being served on cask in a Pub that knows how to do cask well. Wow.

    A slightly longer and self-indulgent version is here:

    Thanks for running this; it was fun!

  3. Love the blog! We all LOVE our beer! Keep up the great work, I'm sure you are aware that beer is in fact VERY healthy for a person, when consumed in moderation. If you're ever interested in the health benefits of beer and fitness, feel free to visit this pretty cool website: It's got some great fitness tips for beer lovers!

  4. I haven't tasted mine yet. Ridiculously busy at the moment but perhaps at the weekend.


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