I am very delighted indeed to announce the next Glasgow porter in our series of Epochal beers drawing on the work of James Steel, Glasgow’s top 19th Century porter brewer.
Steel advocated for a dry, elegant style of porter which was soft and full but possessed of a “gaseous, refreshing quality”. He preferred amber malt to the more common brown malt and used a higher proportion of attenuated, mature beer than was common in London stock porter at its most popular. He was also a very late advocate for the vatting of porter. The Greenhead Brewery, which he ran at the peak of his career, continued to vat over a million litres of porter well into the 1890’s, by which time most other producers had switched to cheaper, unaged versions of the style.
The Primum Mobile was brewed to a recipe for ‘bottling porter’. Most porter left the brewery in casks at this time, but some was brewed to a slightly higher than usual gravity of 1.070 in order to withstand the rigours of 19th Century bottling processes.
It was brewed with pale, amber and black malts and hopped with Admiral and Goldings before open fermentation, cleansing and then secondary oak fermentation with dry hops. It fermented in wood with dry hops for over a year before bottle and keg conditioning using fresh beer to provide fermentable sugars.
With aging the pronounced roast mellows into something smoother but still with dynamism and bite. Deep brown with tan foam; on the nose, you’ll find complex fruity fermentation character, bright aromatic acids and profound roasty depths. It’s light, refreshing, roasty and bitter with a pleasingly precise acidity. Not sour, I wouldn’t say, just a gentle little bit of tartness.
The name comes from the spheres of the old geocentric models of the universe. In Dante’s Paradiso, he ascends through the heavens at each level attaining a deeper understanding of the nature of God. Similarly, as we ascend this hierarchy of celestial brown beers, we come to grasp its eternal porterish profundities.