I am gearing up to try the White House Honey Porter recipe this weekend. There are a few mysteries in the two beer recipes released by the White House, which of course are being widely discussed among homebrewers as many of us buy the ingredients to check these puppies out. There’s a typical convo on Appelation Beer‘s blog, which goes into why the recipes don’t name American hops, among other things. We’re all cutting the recipe makers some slack, all right? It’s pretty clear they’re novice brewers. Let’s be nice.
I’m right in line, planning to make the Honey Porter recipe this weekend. In this recipe, there’s really only one mystery. It calls for 10HBUs bittering hops, half at the fifteen minute mark and half at thirty. For those of you who don’t speak beer yet, there’s a “boil” phase of making beer that in this case (arguably in most cases) goes for an hour. There are three basic stages to hopping (not talkin’ dry hopping here, that’s a whole ‘nother glorious topic). You put in hops for bitterness first, then for flavor, then a last whiff for aroma at the end. The President’s recipe calls for a half ounce of Hallertau hops for aroma at the end and 10 HBUs of bittering hops, but paces them for both bittering and flavor.
OK, so what to do with this 10 HBU of bittering/flavor hops? A porter is not a terribly bitter beer. Home Bittering Units are a Papazian creation. Multiply ounces of hops by their alpha acid number on the package. So, 2 oz Kent Goldings hops at 5% alpha acid = 10 HBUs. Homebrewtalk, the home brewer forum par excellance, has a good discussion about this.
Or did they really mean IBUs, International Bittering Units? It is, as the name indicates, an internationally accepted measure. You need the boil time for this. To quote SmackUDwn on the Homebrew Forum, who said it well enough that I’d just be paraphrasing: “To calculate Total IBU’s from per gallon AAU’s, first determine the approximate efficiency of hops isomerization. Hops boiled for 50 to 60 minuted will have 30% of the alpha acid converted. Hops boiled for 30 minutes will have 21% of the alpha acid converted. Hops boiled for 5 minutes will have 10% of the alpha acid converted. ” He linked a calculator he recommends here.
Lazy me just wanted to look around to see what everybody else was using, but nooooo. Almost no one’s talking about that. Honestly, since I want to make this before I can get back to a homebrew store, and because I have unused Cascade hops in my fridge (they are just not my favorites; when I finally get these used up I doubt I’ll replace them), I’ll probably use the HBU calculation in Cascades and use Hallertau for aroma as the recipe says. If you don’t want to do that, of course our friends at Northern Brewer have hopped right on this and have home brew kits for both Presidential recipes. They make pretty good beer kits, or I wouldn’t mention them. There’s a modestly amusing review here by one of our local beer bloggers if you don’t believe me. Besides, President Obama himself gave Brad “The Beer Guy” Magerkurth of Bloomington, MN a bottle of the Honey Ale to try (I failed to embed the video; the link is above). Gallant fellow that he is, Magerkurth donated the one-of-a-kind bottle to Amplatz Children’s Hospital at the U of M as an auction item. The highest bidder will get to drink a small glass of the home brew. Magerkurth and his colleagues at Artisan Beer Company will also sample the beer to give the White House a review. How cool is that?