Joy of Homebrewing “Goat Scrotum” Recipe Review
Spurred on by my success with Charlie Papazian’s ginger beer recipe I decided to give another go at one of his brews from the The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. This time I chose the unfortunately named “Goat Scrotum” recipe. Always a sucker for a good porter and interested in some of the historical aspects of brewing, this one was a good fit for me. This porter is based on older English recipes and ingredients and is written to be as open to interpretation as possible. The recipe comes with a basic porter setup but includes several variations and will keep any experimenter happy for a while to come.
What appealed to me about this recipe was its kitchen sink mentality. The ingredient list is made up of several small measurements of malts and barley, all of which I had lying around as left overs from other brews and a few “your choice” hops. The rest of the list was made up of everyday kitchen ingredients. In the end the only pieces to the ingredient list I had to buy was 5 lbs. of dark malt extract and the fermentation yeast, everything else was stored away in my beer-making closet or in my kitchen pantry. What could be better a very cheap brew day that cleared out the odds and ends of previous brews?
The tea was simple, crystal malt, black patent malt and roasted barley were steeped in two gallons of water. After 30 minutes the grain was strained out and the extract was added along with boiling hops, I chose some left over Willamette, and all of the other ingredients that included; brown sugar, molasses and a full pound of sugar. In addition to this I added 6 oz. of dark cocoa powder, one of the additions that was suggested in the recipe. At the end of the boil I used Czech Saaz hops to finish. Following a sparge and cooling I added the yeast. The recipe called only for an ale yeast. I chose a Scottish Ale yeast. I thought this would keep with the English nature of the recipe.
Papazian’s extra ingredient list included the cocoa I chose to add but other ingredients were recommended. These included ginger root (been there), licorice root (yuck),“new growth from a spruce tree” (maybe next time), and juniper berries. The other suggested ingredient that jumped out at me was dried chili peppers. I’m not a fan of spicy beers but my wife is and since she puts up with my brewing habit I decided to make up a special batch with peppers for her. For this I siphoned off a gallon of the competed beer and added a few tablespoons of crushed chili peppers. This was my first attempt at a “side project” that I was set up to do following my one gallon Plymouth English Ale I brewed up earlier this year.
The results of both the main batch and the side batch have been fantastic. The Chocolate Porter, as I’m calling it (got scrotum just would not do) is sweet with a strong after flavor of chocolate. It’s not sweet enough to be a dessert beer but stand on it’s own very well. It is perhaps my favorite brew to date. The carbonation (an ongoing issue) has not been a problem with this main batch a few six packs in and the carbonation has been consistent. This has not been the case for the spicy version. In a small sample size, two bottles, one was fine but one was flat. I suspect this has to do with the way in which I added the sugar in the bottling process. I just pulled off a tablespoon of sugar water into each bottle. The next time I try a small batch I will give the sugar tablets a go and see how they work. As for flavor I’m pretty happy. They are spicy, too spicy for my tastes; but my wife likes them though even she thinks there is a lot of heat to them. I will probably dial back the peppers next time and see if I can’t get something a little milder, closer to the Mexican/Aztec beers that seem to be popular right now.
This was great brew for me to try. I was able to experiment a lot, try our a few flavors and ingredients that I thought might work, and not slavishly follow a recipe. After this was done I felt as if I had learned a few things and gained some confidence in my understanding of how flavors mix and work together. As I move forward in my beer production and start making up my own recipes I think I’ll look back on this brew as a turning point.