Need help brewing raspberry porter w/ buttery notes

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Jul 2, 2005
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Hello all,

a quest for beautiful beer brings me to my first post here.

I'm looking to come up with a brew similar in style to a New Holland Brewing (Holland, MI) specialty called Raspberry Black Ale. It was a beautifully dark, roasty and malty beer with an assertive but well-balanced raspberry tanginess and a wonderful buttery finish.

Someone at a local brewpub here told me that a good approach would be to modify a schwarzbier recipe with an ale yeast, but I eventually decided that even if that would be closer, a porter would be more interesting. I'm basing my recipe off Papazian's "Goat Scrotum Ale (formerly Tumultuous Porter)". I think that I'll be fine as far as that recipe goes; it's the additions and tweaks that I'm making that I have questions about.

These are my primary two questions:

1) how can I achieve a desirable amount of buttery character, one that's readily perceptible but not overwhelming? I've read that using some molasses can lend a rich buttery character, but I have a feeling that the biggest player in the process is the choice of yeast. Suggestions for yeast to use, and how to get a desirable level of diacetyl? I'm thinking about Wyeast 1187 Ringwood, 1084 Irish Ale, or 1968 London ESB.

2) This will be my first fruit beer, and I'm wondering how much raspberry to use to get an effective flavor and aroma without dominating the whole beer in tartness-- I've been roughly planning to add 3 lbs to the secondary fermentation. Does this sound like a good amount, and do I need to take steps to ensure sanitation when adding the fruit?

Long winded questions, I know, but I'm still fairly new to brewing and I think this recipe has huge potential so I wanted some specific advice from you guys, the gurus. If you need to know more about my malt/hops bill, let me know and I'll post my tentative recipe. Thanks a lot for any advice!


Mar 6, 2005
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Midwest City, OK
1) I honestly have no idea...."buttery" isn't generally a term I associate with beer. :)

2) I haven't done a fruit beer yet, so I'm not sure. Seems to me like adding fruit to the secondary will activate your yeast again, yielding a dry character with little actual fruit flavor. If you do this, I'll bet using that 1968 yeast would be the best if you want to retain some sweetness. It's really flocculant (drops out quick), and isn't a great attenuator, so it'll likely leave some sweetness and fruit flavor behind.

Hell, maybe using that yeast will get you the results you want all around?

Dunno if that's worth much to you besides a bump to the top.

Welcome to the forum!


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Jan 15, 2005
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The buttery flavor is definitely diacetyl. Its actually desired in some styles, but generally is considered a fault in competitions. As you said, it is produced by the yeast. You'll often hear the term "diacetyl rest" with lagers.

Here is what John Palmer says about it:

"Diacetyl is most often described as a butter or butterscotch flavor. Smell an unpopped bag of butter flavor microwave popcorn for a good example. It is desired to a degree in many ales, but in some styles (mainly lagers) and circumstances it is unwanted and may even take on rancid overtones. Diacetyl can be the result of the normal fermentation process or the result of a bacterial infection. Diacetyl is produced early in the fermentation cycle by the yeast and is gradually reassimilated towards the end of the fermentation. A brew that experiences a long lag time due to weak yeast or insufficient aeration will produce a lot of diacetyl before the main fermentation begins. In this case there is often more diacetyl than the yeast can consume at the end of fermentation and it can dominate the flavor of the beer."

At any rate--I certainly wouldnt "try" to get diacetyl on purpose, as you'll have it in small doses anyway in most cases.

For the fruit, Randy Mosher (who wrote Radical Brewing) suggests for raspberries anywhere from .25 to 3 pounds per gallon, but specifically says at least 1 pound per gallon for serious brews. I wouldn't worry about infection during secondary--the alcohol content will inhibit much of that risk. But there is always a may want to heat up the puree to around 150-160° to kill any bugs it may have.