george washington_cherry porter

George Washington’s Birthday is February 22.  To celebrate, I’m brewing a porter (which he brewed himself), adding cherries (because of that whole cherry tree thing) and throwing in some whiskey just because (but maybe his porter was fermented in whiskey barrels?).  So…Whiskey-Soaked Cherry Porter.  Happy Birthday George.  You don’t know know me and, truth be told, I don’t know you.  But just knowing your 282nd birthday was coming up quick was impetus enough to whip you up a birthday brew.

Disclaimer: Washington’s method seems a little tedious given our advancements in brewing technology so I’m just going to be inspired and leave it at that.

My intention is to be more on the chocolately, caramel-ish, plummy end of the spectrum as opposed to the roasty side that more closely characterizes a robust porter.  Seeing as it’ll have cherries and whiskey, thus a little sweeter/boozier (though it still won’t be far off from a session beer), I chose a hop schedule and yeast that will theoretically result in a smoother, rounder, more estery flavor profile.  Since there’s already a lot going on, I was ok with using Willamette (floral, fruity, herbal, woody, slightly spicy) as my sole hop.  I went back & forth between Wyeast 1028 and 1318 but decided on 1318 because those available packages at my LHBS were from 1/8/2014, as opposed to the 1028 which was from mid-December.

I’ve been reading through and the general consensus is it takes about 1.5-2 lbs of cherries to really be a “cherry beer.” My hope is the cherries come through but only enough for a pleasant fruity complexity.  I’ll be using frozen cherries on the advice that their being frozen decreases the chances for bacterial infection.

As for the whiskey addition, based on my experience adding 500 ml of cognac to a British Mild a few months ago to really nice effect, I think this could really round out the flavor in a delicious way.  In the Cognac Mild, I would have preferred a more background role for the cognac, it really cut straight through, however, it was a Mild so it’s not all that surprising.  I have more malt in this brew (plus cherries) so I’m not as worried about the addition sticking out too much.

Water: Central Los Angeles tap water to London

  • .4 tsp Gypsum
  • .4 tsp Table Salt
  • Campden tablet


  • 7.5 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1 lb Munich
  • 1 lb Crystal 60
  • 8 oz. Crystal 120
  • 8 oz. Chocolate malt
  • 4 oz. Carafa Special II


  • .4 oz Willamette (7.8%) @ 60 min
  • .5 oz Willamette (7.8%) @ 30 min
  • .75 oz Willamette (7.8%) @ 15 min
  • .25 oz Willamette (7.8%) @ 0 min

Yeast (didn’t time everything out correctly to make a starter)

  • 2 smack packs Wyeast 1318 (London Ale III)


  • Irish Moss @ 15 min
  • Wyeast yeast nutrient @ 15 min
  • 5 lbs frozen cherries @ Secondary Fermentation for 14 days
  • Whiskey (to taste) @ Bottling (probably somewhere around 500 ml)

London Ale III is supposed to finish on the sweeter side some I’m going to keep the mash around the normal temperature being 152 degrees.  The boil is going to be 60 min.  Estimated OG= 1.054

Sources during recipe formulation were…

  1. BYO’s “Practical Porter”
  2. BeerSmith’s “Beer Styles: Making A Porter Recipe”
  3. Ray Daniels’ Designing Great Beers

edit: Randy Mosher, in Radical Brewing, says that 1-4 lbs/gallon is the appropriate range for a worthwhile cherry flavor in beer.  ”Sour cherries are best; sweet ones just don’t have the guts to do the job.” He goes on to say that a blend might be the best solution to the profile for which you’re looking.  I’ll have to look around the stores to see what I can get and adjust the amount as necessary.