I have a simple question. Randy Mosher gives a recipe for a portlike beer. Has anyone brewed this or any fortified beer like this? I have searched the forum but haven't really seen anything. Google-ing, I have found several threads on other forums but alas, no updates on how it actually tastes. I want to know whether it is worth the hassle.
There's only one way to find out if it's worth it...and that is to make a small batch. Some people like this kind of brew, others don't. But f you are a careful brewer with a palate that enjoys port, sherry, and specialties the likes of SA Triple Bock or Utopias , my guess is that you'll probably wish that you made a full batch or more.
I have made fortified meads for years, using brandy (just as one would do making port or sherry). The closest I've come to a fortified beer
was a Burton/Barleywine that I reserved about a gallon of and to which I added a healthy measure of Scotch Whisky. It was quite good, but a little too good...I think that in an uncharacteristic (for me) bit of impatience, I consumed it before it had a chance to really age and meld flavors together. I think with the fortified beers, an extended post-blend aging would certainly always be beneficial.
I do know that the effect is amazing in the fortified meads I've done; I've just bottled a strong (to begin with) mead that was brewed in 1991, fortified with brandy in 1993, and aged in bulk (on wood) ever since in a few very
full 1 gallon jugs.
The effect is quite potent, certainly sherry-like, and with that extra added 'something' that comes from the original honey ferment. Right now, it is the oldest fermentation of any real volume currently in my cellar (not counting a dozen or so old bottles of commercially made strong beer).
I think that with a well aged, fortified beer you could expect pronounced sherry notes, some degree of sourness (depending on your original ferment and sanitation, and when
you added the fortifying alcohol) as well as the usual raisiny, almost mollasses-y notes that any well made and really strong beer would develop.
The only thing I can say based on my limited experiences in this regard, is that it's probably worth it to take a chance and make double the batch you normally might. It may seem
like a risky shot in the dark right now, but if you are a 'clean' brewer with confidence in your procedures, you very probably won't regret having made a full or extended batch when you finally sample any remaining bottles years down the line.
Of course, the problem is (for me anyway) keeping my grubby mitts off of the stuff while it's aging...