Dark Horse Stout (Batch 7)

Dark Horse 7I have been working on ‘the perfect stout’ for a long time.  In fact one of the first batches I ever brewed was a stout.

A while back I create “The Stout Experiment” in an effort to try multiple additions in a single batch.  Oddly enough the control (without any additions) ended up being the best.

I have since done three other bathes (including this one) that has tweaked the recipe slightly each time, based on my tasting notes.

Appearance: Dark, no light gets through. Tan (khaki) head with tight bubbles. Alcohol clings to the side of the glass with lacing from the head.
Mouthfeel: silky smooth, but not thick or heavy. The rolled oats contributed to this.
Flavor: Sweet Carmel at first gives way to burnt coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of grapefruit from the cascade hops.
Aroma: Carmel and noble hops.

All in all it’s the best stout I have ever had but I can identify at least two or three places that show room for improvement.

Next batch I think I will add more roasted barley to turn up that burnt coffee flavor a little and possibly change the aroma hop.


Fall Cometh

I’m going to brew a big, warming beer for my next batch.  Something that will toast your innards with alcohol burn and warm you up.

I am thinking either a Scottish wee heavy of Russian imperial stout.

The only problem is that these types of beers require extensive aging.  a RIS would be barely drinkable by Christmas.

I saw on a brewing tv episode that a mead maker used a staggered yeast addition to give his mead a cellared flavor right from the carboy.

Has anyone tried this with beer?  I would rather not experiment on a huge expensive beer like a RIS, but will if I don’t hear from anyone… for science!

At the same time I wanted my next batch to be the one I tried the “Brew in a Bag” method.  Do the full mash in my boil kettle is appealing.  To raise the temperature I just add or adjust flame.  After the mash I just lift the bag out, rinse/sparge and start my boil.  Plus it will be less clean up without having to rinse my mash tun.

The problem with my next batch being a big beer and my first bib batch is the risk of overflowing my kettle.  15-20 lbs of grain, 7 gallons for the boil plus however much I need to figure in for absorption during the mash… than re adding for sparge.  None of my software will do the math for brew in a bag so this is all going to have to be done manually.. yup.. on my fingers.

Superior Australian Lager Yeast

I used “Superior” brand Australian Lager yeast for the first time on a black lager. I was able to find very little information on it online so I pretty much threw caution to the wind and used it.

I pitched at about 70 degrees and stuck in my lager area at about 50 degrees. After a week of not checking on it I took a gravity reading and it was still at its original gravity. No fermentation had happened at all.

I transferred it off its yeast cake into a 5gal carboy and stuck it in my ale closet to warm up so I could pitch another yeast.

After one day at 70 (even after transferring it off its yeast cake) it went crazy! Lava lamp style active fermentation. Apparently this is a lager yeast that has to ferment at ale temps? After about 10 days the gravity was at its expected terminal gravity reading. I transferred it again and stuck it in the lager closet at 50. I will let you guys know how it turns out.

Dark Horse 4 – Sweet Stout

I have made a number of stout recipes since I started home brewing.  I beleive I have finaly refined my recipe down to perfectly suite my tastes.  This one falls under the BJCP category of 13b. Sweet Stout.  This is sometimes called a milk stout, cream stout or breakfast stout.

My base recipe I beleive is sound, but I’m not 100% sure what I want to do with it after I transfer it to the secondary firmentation vessel.  Because of this I will be transfering into 5 x 1gal secondaries instead of 1 5gal.  At that point I can do whatever additives I like and compare.  So far I beleive this is the plan.

1. Control.  Leave it as is with no additives
2. Cherry Extract (Organic)
3. Hazelnut Extract (Organic)
4. Chocolate Bar or Extract (Organic)
5. Either dry hopped with American Cascade hops or float oak chips for the “oak barrel aged” flavor.

I will let everyone know how it turns out. 🙂

Homebrewing with Honey

Missy and I brewed up our first Mead the other day.  I have been using The Complete MeadMaker by Ken Schramm and Making Wild Wines & Meads by Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling as my resources.

We decided to make a braggot instead of a straight up mead.  That is a very honey heavy beer.  Mead with malt, carbonation and sometimes hops.

Normally a beer with honey contains about 1lb of honey… this braggot contains 15 lbs.  We are calling it the “+1 Braggot of Drunkening”.

Leafing through these two books brought question to how I have always brewed with honey.

On page 41 of The Complete Meadmaker I read:

“Dr. Johnathan White of United States Department of Agriculture (retired) did a tremendous amount of research on honey and concluded that the amount of heat exposure needed to kill off the wild yeast in honey is as little as fine minutes at 150 F (66 C), or about 22 minutes at 140 F (60 C).”

In making previous batches of beer we added the honey at the beginning of the boil so the honey is exposed to 60-90 minutes of boiling temperatures.  According to this research that will kill a great deal of the aroma and flavor that honey contributes.

Brewing with honey, according to this research can be difficult.  We heated the honey in a seperate brew kettle (140 F for 22 minutes) and timed it so that its cook time ended about 10 minutes after the wort boil.

I have a brewmometer on my kettle so I waited till my wort chiller brought the wort to 140 F and then added the honey.

Our braggot is about 1-2 days from being transfered to the secondary.  I will let everyone know how it turns out.  If you know me, maybe you will be lucky enough to score a bottle or two. 🙂

f00 Brewery Kegging

As I mentioned previosly, Missy and I have started brewing our own beer.  We are starting to produce some respectable ales and are cranking out many diverse batches.

Last weekend we kicked it up to the next level and purchased an Oster 5cubic foot fridge, 4 corny kegs and all the CO2 gear to keg our brews.

Its amazing to be able to skip the botteling step and have draft beer on tap in my ‘man cave’.

Bottling involves de-labeling and sanitizing 52 12oz beer bottles, cooking a batch of ‘priming sugar’, sticking the beer in the bottles and capping them.  Then you wait at least 2 weeks for ‘bottle conditioning’ and you drink.

With kegging you transfer from your secondary fermentation vessel to the keg, pressurize it, roll it around a bit and wait a few hours.  You are drinking your beer in less than a day as opposed to two weeks.

I will post pictures and tutorials for the kegging project once its finished.

Home Brew

Missy and I started doing home brewing (beer micro-brewing).  Its really a blast and provides us with lots of a high quality and inexpensive beer.  The average 5gal batch costs about $20-25 and yields about 54 (12oz) bottles.  Thats about $0.37 to $0.46 per bottle.

Our favorite supplier is Materagaia.  They supply organic, pre-measured, complete recipes as well as all of the supplies and starter kits you could want.

The hobby has a bit of waiting involved, but if you properly plan and stagger your batches you can bottle as often as you like.

We currently have 1 porter batch that has almost been entirely consumed (Rev. Porter).

We also have the following in the works.

Primary Fermentation (1 week to 10days till secondary)

  • Dark Horse Stout
  • Pale Horse Raspberry Ale

Secondary Fermentation (1 week till bottle)

  • Pale Horse Ale
  • Sunny Smiley Happy Summer Whit (Belgian Whit)

We also have a few recipes already purchased and ready to go

  • Barbie (American Blonde)
  • Honey Kolch
  • Strawberry Creme Ale

And have the following in the works

  • Blackened Voodoo Clone
  • Pete’s Wicket Ale Clone
  • Commie Bastard (Russian Imperial Stout)

The Pale Horse that is in secondary will be ready to bottle today and ready for early consumption this weekend.  The Belgian Whit will need to be transfered to another secondary vessel, and the stout should be good to transfer to secondary this weekend.