Tart Cherry Porter

This beer is near and dear to my heart. It's one of the few beers that I make regularly (this'll be the 4th batch of it in 2+ years of brewing) and it's a beer that a lot of people seem to love. A few people have told me it's the best beer they've ever had, and while I understand tastes are subjective, there's no way that can be true. Don't get me wrong, it's a really, really, really good beer, but I'll never be smug enough to take that kind of praise without questioning their sanity.

Leaves gone, grass still green, winter is coming though.

Leaves gone, grass still green, winter is coming though.

The porter base for this is pretty dark and a lot of people could call it a stout and not be wrong. But I call it a porter because I brewed it and damn it, I can name it. The cherry flavor comes from cherry concentrate, it's the first time I used it for this beer, usually I use dried cherries I rehydrate in boiling water, but I wanted to try something a bit easier this time around, and not much is easier than cracking open a bottle, measuring it out, and dumping it into a carboy.

Tart Cherry Porter recipe, batch size 11 gallons (both carboys got ~5.5 gallons of wort):


  • 21 lbs 2-row
  • 2 lbs Crystal Malt 20L
  • 2 lbs Crystal Malt 60L
  • 2 lbs Crystal Malt 120L
  • 2 lbs Pale Chocolate Malt
  • 2 lbs Roasted Barley

Mash at 154F for 1 hour, add boiling water to raise temp to 170F, then drain and batch sparge, boil for 60 min

Boil additions:

  • 1.5 oz Warrior @ First Wort Hopping
  • 1 oz  each East Kent Goldings and Fuggles @ 15 minutes
  • Irish Moss @15 minutes

Fermentation Plan:

  • Grew up 1L starter of WLP090 California Super Yeast, and used 500ml for each carboy
  • Ferment at 65F for 7 days, then brought up to 70F and hold at 70F for 1 week
  • Add 2 cups of Tart Cherry Concentrate to each carboy and let sit 2 weeks at 70F
  • Bring to basement for 3 days to settle, rack to kegs/bottle.
Heating up the strike water.

Heating up the strike water.

On brew day, I filled up my boil kettle with water straight from my tap, added 7.6g of CaCl2, and heated up the water so I could mash in. After conversion was finished, I added boiling water to heat the mash up to 170 so I could kill enzymatic activity and started collecting my first runnings. I then added 3.6 grams of baking soda so the wort collecting in the boil kettle, to help cut the acidity/astringency of the roasted barley on the final product.

The rest of the day was a nice, normal brew day. I had 2 full carboys at the end of the day, and dumped in the yeast after they finished cooling down to 65F. Fermentation was great, after ramping up and letting the yeast do its clean-up thing, I added the tart cherry concentrate to each carboy (2 cups each) and let them sit 2 weeks to make sure all the excess sugars were fermented out.


I kegged up 5 gallons, and then made a 1 gallon test batch using one container of dried peanut butter to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Porter. I let this test batch sit 2 weeks on the peanut butter before bottling. The remaining 4 gallons were bottled for aging.

After the Tart Cherry Porter was carbed up, I obviously started drinking it. The concentrate didn't taste much different than the dried cherries I've used in the past, so I'll definitely keep that moving forward since it's so much easier. The flavor is wonderfully roasty, smooth, not overly sweet, with nice cherry finish in the background. After the PBJ Porter aged and carbed up, I cracked open a bomber of that and wow, the peanut butter turned the roasted flavors into chocolate with a good nutty base, with the same cherry finish. 

There's a striking deep red glow to the beer when the light hits it just right.

There's a striking deep red glow to the beer when the light hits it just right.

Final numbers for my Tart Cherry Porter:

  • Batch Size: 11 gallons
  • Original Gravity: 1.072
  • Final Gravity: 1.014
  • ABV: 7.6%
  • IBU: 49