AG#4 – Pork Chop Porter

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The amusingly-named Pork Chop Porter was the first dark beer I ever attempted. How delighted was I when I discovered how good it turned out. It was based on Jamil Zainasheff’s Robust Porter recipe in Brewing Classic styles, albeit with a few minor changes to the grain and hop bill. I used the same bittering to gravity ratio though and the same proportion of roasted malts. It turned out to be fantastically balanced and the level of roast in the beer was spot-on. Pork Chop scored an impressive 38/50 in the 2013 National Homebrew Championship and I want to try the recipe again, making a few changes to get a bit more character into the beer.

Where the beer fell down was the level of alcohol. It was at the very limits of ABV for robust porters, but it actually came out a little over the predicted gravity. The extremely perceptive judges noted this and both felt that it had been entered in the wrong category.  Pretty disappointing to have lost out on a higher score due to such a technicality, but that’s brewing competitions for you. Being able to accurately categorise your beer is all part of the process. This time around, I’ll be using the exact same recipe, but possibly entering it in the “Foreign Extra Stout” category which has a higher limit for ABV than “Robust Porter”. Of course, it all depends on how it tastes when it’s fully-conditioned. This was my downfall the last time, and I’ll be carefully assessing the beer before deciding which category to enter it in in.

I’m going to increase the amounts of black malt and chocolate malt just slightly, but keeping the proportions of these lighter and darker roasted grains the same. I’ll also be adding the small portion of Munich malt to add more depth to the maltiness. The 170g of amber malt in my original recipe will be replaced with 300g brown malt.

In order to replicate the original recipe, I need to adjust the recipe for the ad-hoc changes I made the first time around in BeerSmith, my current brewing software. Punching the original recipe into BeerTools (the online version) gives me a different OG and IBU than I got when I was brewing this beer for the first time. It’s now giving me an OG of 1.063. I can’t figure out why I’m getting the extra two points given that I’m specifying the same malt varieties (though not necessarily the same maltsters). Also, I didn’t record what efficiency I was using at the time, though I’m pretty sure I would have been using the default BeerTools 72%.

I made some last minute additions to the recipe way back then, because I only realised at the last minute that I wouldn’t be able to do the sparge step that I had intended to do. Fearing for my efficiency, I added an extra 300g of base malt and 100g of spraymalt. I’ve put these extra fermentables into BeerTools in an effort to find out what my true  targeted OG should have been. It’s coming out as an OG of 1.068 and an ABV of 6.9%! That’s quite an increase, though according to my notes, my calculated OG was still only 1.065. So I’m not sure how to approach this… I want exactly the same beer though I’m worried that if I just target 1.065, then it won’t have the luscious mouthfeel of the first batch – the “no-sparge” may have contributed significantly to this quality. I’m going to target an OG of 1.068 and hopefully if my efficiency is slightly off, I’ll still be in the same ballpark.

I recorded a mash temperature of 68C which of course I’ll be shooting for again, but this time my excellent mash tun will ensure that I won’t have any heat losses.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.066 SG
Estimated Color: 38.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

4.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 59.0 %
1.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 23.6 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 6.6 %
0.340 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM), 5.0 %
0.225 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 3.3 %
0.170 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 2.5 %
24 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 30.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 15.0, 4.9 IBUs
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 1.0, 3.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007), 300ml yeast slurry from Penny Lane Brown Ale

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.785 kg
Mash In           Add 19.00 l of water at 75.9 C          68.0 C        60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.18l) of 77.0 C water

Notes

24/11/2013 Brew Day – Mash water was 82.2°C before transfer to mash tun. 77.5°C after transfer. Did some stirring and settled on a strike temperature of 75.8°C. Mash temperature was 68°C, bang on target. Temperauture at the end of the mash was 67.2°C. Heated sparge water to 88°C but the temperature of the grain bed had dropped to 73.4°C after transfer to MT!!

Took a pre-boil gravity reading and got brain got mixed up; I thought I was reading the original gravity and was disappointed to see 1.056. Delighted when I realised my mistake and even more delighted when I checked my notes in BeerSmith and discovered that the pre-boil gravity was perfect.

However, I got 25 litres for my pre-boil volume, not the ~25.5 litres I expected. My measure original gravity was a point or two lower than expected as a result of the higher finishing volume.

I forgot to take a post-boil volume reading, but I got a lot more into the fermenter than expected: 20 litres instead of 19. I think I need to pay closer attention to the sparge water temperature and to slightly reduce (in BeerSmith) my values for “boil-off” and “losses to trub”. Then my system might be more predictable than it currently is.

Still, a very successful brew day havnig almost hit my numbers. I pitched about 350ml of WLP007 yeast slurry and there were visibile signs of fermentation a couple of hours later. This time I took the precaution of using a 33 litre fermenter as I feared a volcanic fermentation, it being a dark, high-gravity beer.

25/11/2013 – Airlocks are hugely entertaining! Lots of blip-blip-blipping going on! I’d filled the airlock with StarSan and some of it has spilled out of the airlock because the fermentation is so vigorous. I’d say there’s at least 3 bubbles per second.

26/11/2013 – Still big bubbling going on, but the kreusen is only a finger high. Not as volcanic as I’d feared. Could be a feature of the WLP007 yeats I’m using.

26/11/2013 – Evening time. Kreusen has fallen – this WLP007 is a beast!! Either that, or the fermentation has gone horribly wrong. Still plenty of action in the airlock and lots of small bubbles coming through the surface of the beer. I’ll do a gravity and temperature reading tomorrow I think.

11/12/2013 – Bottled with 130g dextrose. Got 35 bottles from the batch though I expected to get more than this. Calculated my priming sugar at 19 litres at 2.5 vol = 130g. FG was a little bit higher than expected at 1.016, but it tastes great. A lot of sweetness but plenty of bitterness and roasty flavour to balance it.

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