Tag Archives: Stout

Gravity reading, fermenting in the tube

Don’t you hate it when you take a sample of your wort and it starts fermenting before you get a reading? No? Just me? This very odd scenario came about last last week due to a series of events. It all started with an idea to make an oatmeal stout.

Oatmeal Stout 1 steeping

Oatmeal Stout #1 with oats steeping in grain bag

I’ve been thinking about this style for a while. Did a bit of research online and wasn’t impressed with the information on how to make an extract only oatmeal stout. The advice was either: “you have to include (two-row or six-row) malted grain and do a mash” or “you have to steep with specialty grains”. In short, you need to have with grains. The reasons appeared contradictory. Some saying “you need to convert the starch” and others saying “you need to keep the sweet starch flavour”. After plenty more reading I think it comes down to the moth feeling you want from the beer. Mash if you want a smooth oily feeling. Steep if you want thick body feeling.

That’s fine, but doesn’t really answer the question for me. I want to know if it’s possible to skip the grain steeping altogether. Enter my recipe Oatmeal Stout #1.

Start with 500 grams of quick/breakfast oats. Put into a pot and 1.5 litres of water, or more. Put on heat and bring up but not too a boil. I elected for 65°C. Leave for about an hour.

Oatmeal Stout 1 sparging

Oatmeal Stout #1 with oats in grain bag ready for more sparing

I found that there wasn’t enough water and the pot was too small. It ended up overflowing. I transferred the oats into a grain bag. Then bag and liquid into a much bigger pot. Pot had an extra two litres of water added. Interestingly the starch kept settling to the bottom. So it was important to keep stirring if the heat was on. I had to leave it at this point and return the next day. And I left the bag stay in pot and cooled overnight.

Next day was about sparging the oats and washing out as much starch out as possible. Grain bag rested on a sieve and I poured water over semi regularly. This took a fair bit longer than expected, so was left overnight. Next day was finally time for boil. Started at about 11 litres. First 1.5 kilograms of liquid dark malt was added and heat slowly brought up to a boil. From there was straight forward sixty minute boil. Warrior hops at the start. Rest of liquid malt and sugar with ten minutes to go. And Fuggles hops at flame out.

Oatmeal Stout 1 chilling

Oatmeal Stout #1 chilling in ice bath and with ice inside

Sugar addition was to help push up alcohol content. I believe a stout should be strong, and over 6%. Plus the “dryness” from sugar should work well against the thick oat starch feeling.

  • 500 grams oats, soaked for hours in hot & cold water
  • 1.5 kg Briess Traditional Dark Liquid Malt Extract
  • 11 litre boil
  • 10 g Warrior hops @ 60 mins
  • 1.5 kg Briess Traditional Dark Liquid Malt Extract @ 10 mins
  • 500 g raw sugar @ 10 mins
  • 5 g Fuggles hops @ flame out
  • Chilled with ice (bath and direct into wort to bring to 14 litres)
  • Pitched onto Windsor yeast (from previous brew)
Milk Porter 1 FG

Milk Porter #1 Final Gravity

While the wort from the stout was chilling it was time to bottle the Milk Porter #1. That was a big effort. 15 litres were racked off for bulk priming, then into 45 stubbies. The remaining 3 litres were bottled into long necks with a very special twist. Each of the four bottles were primed, one shot of coffee each AND a 2 cm cut from a dried vanilla bean. These four bottles will be conditioned for a minimum of two months. Really excited about these.

Milk Porter 1 bottled

Milk Porter #1 bottled in 45 stubbies and 4 long necks

The final gravity of the Milk Porter #1 came in at 1.030 which was a bit higher than I hoped. After bulk priming this will end up at 4.2% alcohol. Not bad, but a bit short of the high 4’s I was hoping for. That said, the sample I tasted had plenty of promise. While the long neck bottles will be a few months away, the stubbies should be ready by mid/late July.

The wort from the stout took a while to chill. Over an hour even with a big chunk of ice direct into it to cool down. Then finally was ready to pour into the fermenter that had the Milk Porter, and the yeast left behind. A good shake up and done. All that was left was to get a gravity sample. This came out with a bit of froth. I left it for a bit to settle down. Then had to leave before it was clear.

Oatmeal Stout 1 OG

Oatmeal Stout #1 Original Gravity, with krausen

Next morning… krausen! The gravity sample had started fermenting with the yeast that was there. All I can do is estimate the gravity reading. The photo looks like nearly 1.090, but I think that’s partly due to the krausen pushing it up. If I remember correctly from the day before, it was closer to 1.080. The recipe should have hit about 1.081 and I’ll go with that. Moral of the story? If your gravity sample has yeast in it, get a reading ASAP!

Looking forward to trying the stout. It looks plenty dark and should be very think with all the starch in there. Might be a bit too much, but won’t know for quite some time. Not to worry, in a few weeks the Milk Porter should be ready. Yum.

Did I really skip the grain steeping part to make an extract only oatmeal stout? Probably not. As I spent so much time on the oats I think you could say this really is a extract and grain recipe. Even if there were no malt/barley grains. But I’m happy with it.

-Mikey

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Milk Stout – Review

You might remember I made a Super Stout back in May this year. Well, Chas made one about a month after that. We don’t have a write up on it, but I can tell you that he added lactose and didn’t oxygenate it (like I did). As there was a lot of lactose added he called it Milk Stout. This was a birthday present and by all accounts went down well.

Milk Stout

Milk Stout ready for drinking

Like the review Chas did of my Super Stout, this comes out nice and black. There’s not much head on this which is quite disappointing. What little there is has a nice brown tinge to it. Looks pretty good.

Aroma wise, this is a nice mix. There’s some sweetness, some rich dark malt and some chocolate as well. Not much hop aroma, and that’s a good thing here.

First taste is good. Hit of dark malt and is flat. What I mean by that is there’s no distractions from the malt flavour. It’s straight up dark malt. Good round flavour here that fills the mouth from top to bottom. The body on this beer is alright, not great for a stout but also doesn’t leave you thinking it’s not a stout. Overall you’re first met with a big round dark malt burst of flavour. And that’s exactly what you want.

In the middle it comes up with some sweetness. This helps with the malt and body. Then the darker flavours come back and help drag out the flavours for a while.  As the body drops away there’s the sweet milk flavour from the lactose coming though. And after that a slight bitterness. And the liquorice, which has been there the whole time, comes out and becomes it’s own.

Matching this beer with food is a little hard. I would tend to go with something dark and sweet, this is a dessert beer. Rich cake is a good option. Black forest cake or chocholate mud cake get’s my vote.

So, this is a good and well rounded beer. The body lets it down, that’s possibly because the beer comes in at only 4.8% alcohol. The flavours towards the end get a bit muddled. But that first mouthful works great. And you keep wanting to go back for more. And this is a great example of two brewers making (nearly) the same recipe with quite a different outcome.

-Mikey

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Super Stout Review

DSC_0414So we finally got around to trying the Super Stout made way back in May!

Unfortunately there was a bit of an accident during the bottling process when Mikey poured some of the beer, not only spilling some but also aerating it. We were fearful that this would affect the taste somewhat, and it did a little bit, but oh well! This beer also spent more than a month in the fermenter as Mikey tried to get as much fermentation out of the brew as possible after experimenting fermenting at a lower temperature.

Anyway, the beer poured nice and black like it should, but unfortunately there was really much head to it. I was hoping for a nice stouty head, but it just wasn’t there. Let’s put that down to the aeration problem.

The aroma was pretty good, but once again not all in all stouty. Quite fruity with peaches and flowers in the nose, and, of course, a bit of licorice once things warmed up a bit. Along with the licorice was chocolate, which went with well! I would have liked to see a bit of spice in there, as it’s what I like in a stout, but instead there was a bit of a sticky and sweet smell, which may be coming from the fermentation problems Mikey had.

Once drinking the beer, there wasn’t quite as much body as would be expected in a stout, especially something called a “super stout.” It was thicker and fuller than paler beers, but not enough for a stout.

The lack of body meant that there was little in the front, but the licorice came through in the middle which was great. This licorice thickened things up a bit, and a really nice flavour to have. The beer ended with a nice sweet and sour. Some of the sweetness seemed like a mistake and slightly out of place. Once again, probably a problem with the fermentation and the aeration.

To get more stouty goodness, this beer simply needed to be maltier and to be thickened up. This beer has potential, especially because of the licorice flavour.

All that being said, the lightness makes this an easy drinking beer that can be sessioned on with no problems.

 

-Chas

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Bottling Super Stout, with a mistake

I finally got around to bottling the Super Stout. I’ve been waiting for some extra fermentation which hasn’t really happened. I was by myself and made a mistake. I knew at the time that maybe it wasn’t a great idea and did it anyway.

Super Stout bulk prime

Bulk priming the Super Stout from fermenter to pot

The gravity reading on the stout hadn’t really dropped from the reading I took three weeks ago. Back then it was 1.031 and it finally ended at 1.028. That’s not a lot of movement over three weeks. The extra temperature may have helped ferment a bit more, but not sure if it was really worth the extra wait.

Bottling 18 litres of beer by myself was never going to be fun. That’s one of the reasons I had put it off for so long. I wanted to put most of the beer in 330 ml bottles as well which was going to drag it out longer. My bottles are washed and clean before I put them in storage. All I needed to do was sanitise them and put them on the bottling tree to dry a bit. Pretty straight forward once I put the rest of the bottling tree together.

I’m use to bulk priming I didn’t want to go back to individual priming. That meant I needed to measure the take sugar and dissolve it in a little bit of water. That was simple. I had the dissolved sugar in my new(ish) 19 L pot and racked off the beer from the fermenter to the pot. That went really well.

Now I had all my beer primed and ready to bottle. And in a huge pot. How to bottle from here? I could syphon it out one bottle at a time. That would take forever and I didn’t have the time. I could transfer to one of the fermenters with a tap and use a bottling wand. Not the big one as I don’t have time to clean. Little one is good to go, but a bit small. Split it into two lots would work. What’s the easiest way to move it from the pot to the small fermenter? A siphon us a smart choice. But what did I choose? Pour it in. What was I thinking?!

Super Stout bad idea

Pouring the pot to fermenter? That’s a bad idea

There was a but of a mess when I poured the beer out if the pot. Most went into the fermenter. Lost about 500 ml to the floor and side of the fermenter. Second lot was less messy. The real problem is that by pouring the beer it got aerated. And according to John Palmer’s book How To Brew that it’s likely going to produce diacetyl flavours. Not good.

The rest of the bottling went pretty well. I did under estimate how many bottles I would need. Total count was 35 stubbies and eleven 500 ml bottles, a total of just over 17 litres.

After bottle conditioning the alcohol should be 5.2% which is below what I would like for something called a Super Stout. Would expect something close to 8%, but I knew from the original gravity that want going to be possible.

I didn’t taste the beer when bottling. I had tried it a few times with the gravity samples over the past few weeks. Quite dark and the liquorice flavour changed enough for me to notice between sample one and the last one. There was a good hint of apple aroma from the beer once primed and in the open pot. I really hope that doesn’t come through in the beer.

I’ve included what temperature settings were used. You can see that I raised the heat a fair bit in a futile attempt to ferment more sugar. I’m fearful that it might have caused a negatively effected the beer.

  • OG 1.064 (3/5/14)
  • ferment at @ 16 C = 1.031 (to 28/5/14)
  • then @20 C = 1.030 (to 1/6/14)
  • then @ 24 C = 1.029 (to 9/6/14)
  • still @ 24 C = 10.28 (to 14/6/14)

If you’ve got any feedback on the above is love to hear it. Both the temperature changes and the pouring/aeration of the beer.

-Mikey

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Really dark, and still not ready

Super Stout gravity reading

Super Stout gravity reading at 1.031

It’s been three and a half weeks since the brew day for the Super Stout. I deliberately left this to ferment at a lower temperature, 16 degrees Celsius. There were two reasons for that. First, Good Beer Week was on last week and there was no time over the weekends to bottle. Second, wanted a really clean yeast finish to the beer.

Fast forward to now. Went out and took a sample of the beer. Gravity reading came in at 1.031! What? I’m pretty sure that’s no where near where I thought it would finish. Yeah, there’s all sorts of stuff in there like lots of super dark malt and liquorice. But I really thought this would drop more. And I still do.

Rather than wait another 2-3 weeks I’ve set the temperature to rise to 20 degrees Celsius. I’m hoping the yeast will wake up and have another crack at eating some of that remaining sugar. If that doesn’t work, I might need to pitch some more yeast in. Which is something I’m not took keen on.

The sample tastes quite sweet still. And that should mean there’s still more sugars for the yeast to eat up. There’s also a really strong molasses taste which ends with liquorice taste. Now I know what the liquorice does. The sample is also super dark, just as the name suggests.

So, temperature up and give it another week and a half. Hope it’s ready by then. If not… well, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.

-Mikey

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Back to black, brewing Super Stout

Back from holidays. Back to brewing. Back to black.

Yep, Saturday was the first weekend back from a two week holiday overseas. It seamed like a perfect idea to get Chas over and brew again. Plus we were able to do another dark brew. Super Stout was the brew for the day, and is was very dark brew indeed.

Super Stout 1

Super Stout 1 in the fermenter waiting to be topped up with water

Last dark brew I did was the Baltic Porter #2. That was back in November, nearly six months ago. That’s running very low and will likely be all gone by the time the Super Stout is ready to drink. The weather is getting right for stouts and porters, it has already gotten pretty cold here in Melbourne. But that might have more to do with the temperature difference between the holiday overseas verse back home.

The brew day was a simple and easy one. Did a kit from Brewcraft / Liquorcraft / Australian Home Brewing… I’m always getting confused by their name. I’m just going to continue to refer to that company by their official company name, Australian Home Brewing Pty Ltd. Anyway, the kit was their Super Stout. Got this one as a gift for Christmas. Didn’t want to wait much longer before using the ingredients. Apparently liquid malt can go a bit funny if it’s been in a can too long. Yeast was fine as I kept in the fridge since December.

The kit comes with everything you need.

  • 1.7kg can of Black Rock Miners Stout
  • 1.5kg can of Black Rock Dark Liquid Malt Extract
  • 500g Corn Sugar
  • 10ml liquorice extract
  • Safale S-04 (whole 11g pack)

A fairly simple kit and very easy to make. The liquorice was unexpected. I’ve seen it as an ingredient in home brew shops before but wasn’t game to try myself. Given that it’s included in a lot of stout recipes I’m sure it’ll be fine. We’ll wait for the tasting review.

Process for this brew is very simple. Boil 2-3 litres of water. Heat off. Add both cans of liquid malt. Add corn sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add to fermentation vessel. Top up to 18 litres. Add licorice. Stir up really well. Gravity reading. Pitch yeast. Done.

The whole brew was all done in about an hour. Topping up the water was nearly the longest process. There was plenty of ice and ice cold water ready to chill. The delay was getting the rest of the water filtered. The water quality isn’t the best here due to the pipes. There is only one filtering jug and it takes time. Might need to prepare that better next time.

Gravity came in at 1.064. That’s pretty good. The instructions pack said final gravity would come in around 1.025 – 1.030. If that’s the case I’m looking at a beer that will be around 5.0% to 5.6% after bottling. That’s okay, but was hoping for something a bit higher for a stout. I drank some of the gravity sample and it tasted great. Dark and sweet, exactly what you’d expect.

There was some beer tastings as well. Cracked open a bottle of Chas’s basic pale ale. Also tried my Australian IPA. Both reviews should make their way up over the next week or so.

Overall it was a relaxed brew day. Nothing complex. Nothing boring. Nothing special. Two guys making a beer and taking it easy. Nice.

-Mikey

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Black Rock Miners Stout – Review

Stout, stout, stouty stout stout.

Yesterday we tasted the Black Rock Miners Stout in addition to doing a brew that I’m sure Mikey will write up.  We also tasted the Gauss’ Law Hopped Cider as well as Mikey’s Australian Pale Ale.  Reviews of these will be coming as well.

Anyway, the stout!

First of all, it looked very much like a stout.  Very dark, decent head while pouring, although the head retention was lacking a little bit.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of aroma; the aroma was there, but quite very subtle.  I wasn’t able to get much out of it, but there were hints of brown sugar, chocolate, general sweetness and some malt and sticky smells as well.  There wasn’t much in terms of overt hops smells, but that is where some of the sticky sweet may have been coming from: floralStout mixing with the malt perhaps.

On the first taste, it was apparent that this is a weaker stout of 4% ABV with very little body, especially for a stout.

The subtle chocolate flavours continue as well as the subtle malt flavours, but other than that, the flavour is just “there.”  There wasn’t much to put my finger on, nothing obvious coming out to set it apart.  All the fairly standard stout flavours were there, but nothing to talk about.

As it was a stout, I wasn’t expecting any wild hops tastes, but, that being said, I couldn’t find much hops in there except for a mild amount of bitterness.  I would have liked maybe some floral or spicy flavours in there, just to add a bit of a twist.  Then again, I’ve been drinking a lot of imperial stouts lately, so maybe my pallet for stouts is a bit off…

Overall, it’s a good beer, but not great.  It’s very accessible but very middle of the road.  Because of this, it would make a fairly sessionable stout.  It would also make a good introduction to stout for those who don’t usually drink it.

In relation to food, these heavier beers generally go with heavier, meatier dishes, and this is no exception.  I think stouts are always good with barbecue, but I’d reserve this for a barbecued white meat like chick.  I also think that this stout is light enough to enjoy with a relatively hardy pasta with a good thick red sauce.

-Chas

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Trappist Afterland Russian Imperial Stout – review

Last weekend I saw a band called Trappist Afterland. Great band, good night; I’m not going to go into the music (because this is a beer blog!), but the band have done something novel with their new EP.

Trappist Afterland’s new EP is available for digital download, so they figured at the launch event, rather than selling a piece of paper with the download code on it, they attached said code to a bottle of home made beer – so every album came with the gift of beer, the greatest gift of all (other than the lovely music).

Singer/songwriter for the band, Adam Cole, explained the idea behind releasing the album with the beer:

“Being a massive beer enthusiast I liked the idea of releasing

the album with a beer to reinforce the sip and listen idea.

Great beer and good music are the ideal partners I reckon.  

And considering our band name was inspired by Abbey Ales

it seemed to fit well.”

Adam also mentioned prior to the set that he had made so much beer, he may as well do something with it!

This particular beer was made at a brew on premises (“BOP” according to the tax man) joint called Barleycorn Brewers in Oakleigh South in Melbourne. I’ve never done brew on premises, but Mikey has. Basically, rather than making it at home, a BOP has all the equipment and recipes there for you. It can be a great way to get started or if you don’t have the room at home. They generally allow you to make a very good quality beer.

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Tasty beer sitting in front of some tasty cider in the carboy

This beer was no exception.

Firstly, the beer was highly excitable. It was one of those stouts that had to be poured a little, wait for the foam to die down, pour, wait some more, and so on. Once the waiting game was over, what was left was a dark, thick stout with lots of body, but not too heavy.

On the nose, there were some great malt smells. There was a nice crisp clean smell, most likely brought on by the hops, and a smell of sweeter fruits.

This slight sweetness/fruit continued on in the taste, which was fairly unexpected for a stout. It went well, although sometimes felt a little inappropriate given the style of the beer. There was also a little bit of chocolate which went well with these flavours.

Of course this was complimented by the general stout bitterness. There was also a bit of spice in the hops, which I generally like in a stout. Basically, there were a few great flavours in there all interacting.

This seemed like a well designed stout, especially for those new to stouts. It was good, but very “safe”, easy, and inoffensive. All of this enhanced drinkability and made it a surprisingly sessionable heavy beer. Although I love a good stout, I’m usually done after one or two; I could have done a few of these.

Because of all of this, this beer would make a good dessert beer. The sweeter fruit flavours would go well with a drier dessert like a cake or just generally with sweet fruits. Going with a more sour/tart fruit probably wouldn’t go as well, but it might work well with some berries.

Anyway, thanks again to Trappist Afterland for sharing their great music and great brew. I highly recommend both.

-Chas

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