Monday, 26 March 2012

Deschutes Black Butte Porter clone

Some brewdays are planned due to a current shortage of a favorite style or previous batch. Others are completed because you decide to take on a style that you've been wanting to brew for months, or even years. And some homebrews are made simply as a result of the one you brewed most recently - that is, you harvest some yeast from a recent beer that you want to use again, and you find a recipe that fits the yeast.

This is mostly the case here. After I bottled my recent Standard Bitter, I had a healthy yeast cake of Wyeast 1968 London ESB that I didn't want to waste. If I don't have a particular style in mind when deciding what to brew next, I always like to browse through the recipes on the database of Can You Brew It homebrews, located here. These guys have tackled a lot of tasty commercial beers over the last couple of years, and a lot of breweries use the 1968 as their "house yeast", so I knew I wouldn't have a problem finding something tasty to try to clone on my own.

Deschutes Brewery, located in Oregon, has always been one of my favorite West-Coast U.S. breweries. While their beers are not available in the East Coast, I've been lucky enough since getting into beer to have taken several trips in that area, and have got to try several of their offerings. One of these is their Black Butte Porter. A Robust Porter (BJCP classification), it's quite chocolatey and roasty, with a firm bitterness... very balanced overall. Some people find it difficult to get into "dark beers"; Black Butte is a great entry beer in this case, as it doesn't knock you out with any flavors in particular, or alcohol for that matter. Delicious!

It was a bit trickier than normal to extrapolate the recipe from the podcast/website to something that I could brew with the ingredients available to me. This was mostly due to the fact that the Deschutes brewer recommended using both American and English Chocolate malt, in equal quantities. Apparently American Chocolate is supposed to be a bit darker (350-400 L) compared to English (~300 L). I have access to "Chocolate Malt", which at ~350 L is probably American Chocolate. So, I went with this, and added a bit of Pale Chocolate malt (200 L) that I had on hand from a purchase in the U.S. a while back.  The only other significant difference was the last hop addition; the recipe calls for a small add of Mt. Hood or Tettnanger at 5 minutes; unfortunately, I had neither on hand, so went with Saaz, which was as close as I could get. Shouldn't make a huge difference, to be honest. Finally, the podcast actually called for a different mash schedule: a protein rest at 130 F for 10 minutes, saccharification rest at 156 for an hour, the mash-out. With today's grains, I keep reading that it's usually not neccesary for a protein rest, especially in a beer like this, so I decided to keep it simple by just going with a sacc rest at 154 F, and then mashing out.

This was also the first time I've ever really tried to alter my water profile, and the first time I've used a carbon filter. Fredericton water is treated with chlorine, like most cities. After you've brewed with chlorine-treated water for awhile, and you start to improve your tasting-abilities, however slightly, you can really start detecting the phenolic off-flavors that the chlorine leaves when it comes in contact with the grain - mediciney, band-aid.... it all actually does happen! I've been treating my water with campden tablets for the last 8 months or so, but haven't been overly happy with the results, so I finally decided to buy a countertop water filter, which should hopefully do a very competent job of removing the chlorine.

In addition, the recipe called for water with increased calcium to about 129 ppm. Fredericton water has about 40 ppm calcium... this is actually a bit low. Most sources recommend a minimum 50 ppm, and a lot of brewers add more, due to the positive effect calcium has on yeast health, among other things (stay tuned for a future blog post on water treatment, once I get my head sorted through the whole thing!). So, using the free program BreWater 3.0, I calculated a small addition of 6 g Gypsum and 5 g CaCl2 to bump my calcium (as well as the sulfate and chloride). If you start messing with your water profile without knowing what you're getting into, you'll more likely change your beer for the worse, but I've been wanting to try this for awhile, and I think I've done enough research to finally start to grasp the whole concept. We'll see!

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency): OG 1.058, FG 1.012, IBU 38, SRM 26

Grains:
1.82 kg Canadian 2-row
1.82 kg Maris Otter
500 g Wheat malt
318 g Chocolate malt (~350 L)
264 g Crystal 80 L
159 g Carapils
91 g Pale Chocolate malt

Hops:
Nugget - 24 g (11.2% AA) @ 90 min
Cascade - 17 g (2.5% AA) @ 30 min
Saaz - 11.5 g (3% AA) @ 5 min

Misc.:
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min
1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1968 London ESB (cultured 18/3/12, ~1 cup yeast slurry)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; mash water treated with 8 g of 45/55 CaCl2/Gypsum mix

- Brewed March 25th/12, with Craig and Jill. 60 minute mash with 16.5 L of strike water, mashed in at 154 F (target). Mashed out with 7.25 L of 203 F water, resulting temp a bit low at 163 F, rest for 10 more minutes. Sparged with ~3.5 gallons of 170 F water for final volume of ~7.1 gallons in the kettle (low). SG 1.046 (target 1.044). 90 minute boil.

- Chilled down to 62 F with immersion chiller. Volume low at only slightly over 5 gallons, so OG high at 1.062. Pitched yeast slurry, woken up with a 500 mL starter, and aerated by shaking for several minutes before and after. Set in room with temp at mid 60s.

26/3 - 29/3 - Slow fermentation about 18 hours after pitching, gradually more active over the day until it was bubbling almost 2 times/second. Fairly active for a couple of days, temp as high as 70 F; activity then slowed fairly quickly, temp holding at 68 F (I kept the heat on in the small room; don't want the yeast pooping out to early, which would encourage a stuck fermentation and decreased diacetyl clean-up).             

1/4/12 - Took gravity reading of 1.020. Made a 250 mL starter to try to wake up the remaining 1968 slurry, then pitched about 12 hours later.

12/4/12 - FG of 1.018... I didn't really expect the FG to get down to 1.012 (that's pretty high attenuation for 1968). The 1.018 is a bit high for the style, but with the higher OG, the attenuation came out to be about 69%, about average for 1968 London ESB.

17/4/12 - Bottled with 121 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 with max temp of 70 F reached.

30/5/12 - Tasting notes.

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