This is the first of what will likely be a series of experiments in brewing a Baltic Porter with extra flavors from molasses, fennel seed, and cocoa based on a Russian Black Bread Recipe I enjoy. My end goal is to then use this beer when baking the bread.

Preboil SG: 1.061

Original gravity: 1.082

Final gravity: 1.021

Volume in Fermenter: 2.65 Gallons

Mash and Boil Process

I did my usual full volume BIAB mash. I added grains when the water was about 158F and stirred for about 5 minutes. I then did a 60 minute mash without touching it further. At 60 minutes I lifted the bag and squeezed as much wort as I could and then let the grain bag sit in a collander resting in a bowl to see if any more wort drained naturally before the boil was done.

I boiled for 60 minutes, adding Magnum hops for bittering immediately to give them a 60 minute boil. Saaz hops were added with 20 minutes of boiling left. At 5 minutes left I added 2 Tsp of fennel seed, 2 Oz of Hershey's Cocoa Powder, and 4.4 Oz (by weight, not Fl. Oz) of dark molasses. Afterwards I used my immersion chiller to get the wort down to about 60F and then transferred to a fermenter and pitched the yeast. Since this is high OG and I want a very clean fermentation I used the full packet of US-05 even though it is under 3 gallons.


As noted above, yeast was pitched at about 60F. I did not rehydrate the yeast. I pulled the packet of US-05 out of my kegerator which is set to keep things about 44-45F, let it warm just a bit, and pitched directly onto the wort. I then used my temperature control to heat the wort slowly to 68F and then raised to 70F the following day. Due to the cold temperatures outside and the fermentation chamber being in the garage, this kept the temperature between 69F and 70F the majority of the time. I did not check gravity until January 14 when it was the expected approximately 1.021 as shown in the images below after accounting for this hydrometer always reading .002 to .004 high.

I do not use US-05 much but after more research I possibly should have kept the temperature closer to 66F-67F for an evern more lager-like lack of esters from the yeast.


The beer is now technically on tap, although I do not intend to drink it right away. I had a very small sample after around 8 hours of burst carbonation at 35PSI while shaking the keg a couple times to increase co2 absorption. I managed to overcarbonate it even in that amount of time, but it tasted pretty good again, although still not the amount of fennel flavor I want. I know this beer will be best aging for weeks or even months, but I am impatient so I will probably have another glass this coming weekend and just keep having one per weekend for a couple of weeks.

Final Thoughts

Just a couple days after brewing this beer I realized that I have not been adding the fennel correctly or even how I meant to for either brew of it. I put the fennel seed in a tea/herb infusion ball and dropped it into the wort during the last few minutes of the boil. I had meant to keep it in the wort when I transferred to the fermenter after cooling, but I did not. This has certainly reduced the flavor I got from the fennel significantly. Based on what worked so well for the spices in Holiday Beer 2020 (2020-12-12) I will also crush up the fennel seed and skip the infuser ball. I have not decided if I will go with the 1 Tsp uncrushed of fennel seed from Russian Black Bread Porter Experiment 1 or the 2 Tsp I used for this. I will also probably weigh the fennel seed so that I can measure more exactly in the future.

I know this beer will continue to get better as it ages, but since I want to correct my fennel seed mistake, I am going to drink it up (and of bottle some) fairly quickly to make room. I am undecided about whether I will use US-05 yeast because I have some already and I am cheap or if I will buy some S-23 lager yeast for the next batch.

Style Details

1.060 - 1.090 1.016 - 1.024 20 - 40
17 - 30 srm

Batch Details

Brewed OnPackaged OnOn Tap DateOriginal GravityFinal GravityColor
Dec. 31, 2020 Jan. 16, 2021 Jan. 16, 2021 1.082 1.021
33 srm