Friday, July 13, 2012

Breakfast Stout

This post is a little late.  I'd saved the revision instead of posting it, so apologies for posting it a month late.

Every now and then I decide to make a batch that isn't my own recipe.  I do this because I want to see if I can, or because I can't get that beer here, or even simply to save money.

I've been craving a nice stout, and I hear all the time about how awesome Founder's Breakfast Stout is as a beer.  Unfortunately, we don't get Founders distributed in Oklahoma.  But something about the flavor combination from oatmeal, chocolate, and coffee sounded amazing to me, and it sounded like an excellent recipe to try and build from.

First thing I did was track down a clone recipe.  Once again, HBT came to the rescue. (I love that site).

Starting from there, I wound up getting quite a bit of interest in this beer from a coworker of mine, Andrew.  A fellow brewer, he volunteered to split it with me.  We agreed to meet up at my house and give it a shot.

Now, logistically, this beer posed more problems than any batch I had previously done.  Per the recipe, it's supposed to be well over 8% ABV - a big beer by any definition.  That would be fine if I was doing a 5 gallon batch - I've made bigger beers than that using my 10 gallon mast tun.  But, in order to split the batch with Andrew, we quickly determined we would need two mash vessels.  So, I MacGuyvered the hell out of that and used my hot lauter tun (7 gallon pot) as a second mash tun:

Here you can see the 10 gallon rubbermaid completely full, as well as the 7 gallon HLT being sparged.

This, quite frankly, was a nightmare.  Trying to shuffle the times so that we could be mashing one while sparging the other, and splitting the grain semi-equally between the two, all while trying to get a high efficiency?  It was a real pain.  Not something I want to try to do again.

On top of that, we tried to speed through this batch due to some prior commitments, and thus we had to cap the boil at 90 minutes.  I really wanted to boil longer, and so I collected a bit too much from the second runnings, which diluted the gravity even further.  Why'd I do this?  Because, as always, I'm a moron.  Not to mention that there's a chance I was drinking while brewing.  Hypothetically.

Still, a crazy interesting beer.  There was a large number of boil additions, seen here:

That's 8oz of hops, 4oz of ground coffee, and 8oz of Cocoa Powder.

Yeah, that's how I roll.

Due to the inefficiencies I introduced in my split mash, we wound up with a significantly lower original gravity than I'd hoped for: 1.073, as opposed to somewhere in the 80s.  In addition, I wound up collecting close to 6 gallons of wort for my half of the batch, which was about .5gal more than I really had a use for.

With a beer this big, yeast is key.  Knowing this, we approached it two ways.  For Andrew's batch, he pitched two 11.5g packets of S-04, an English ale dry yeast.  On my side, I pitched directly on top of a yeast cake of Wyeast 1728 Scottish ale yeast.  In both cases, we wanted to make absolutely sure we had a large population of viable cells.

With the amount I collected, as well as the high OG, I set up a blowoff tube to make sure I didn't have any issues during fermentation:
As it turned out, this wasn't a necessary step.  Potentially due to the oils in the cocoa powder, I never had a very high krausen, and so the tube went unused except for C02.  Still, better safe than sorry.

After 3 weeks in primary, I racked to a 5 gallon corny keg.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get all of the beer out, and wound up leaving somewhere around .5 gallons behind, even after completely filling the corny.

You can see the large amount of trub on the bottom of the carboy.  This is a combination of the large yeast cake, as well as some of the grounds from the coffee and cocoa powder making it through my boil filter.

Having recently put this on draft, I have to say I'm thrilled with how it turned out.  It has an amazing coffee nose, but a sweet and smooth taste.  Very little alcohol burn, which is awesome for a 7.7% ABV beer.

This isn't Founder's breakfast stout, that's for sure.  This is due to a lower OG, a lower FG, the use of cocoa powder instead of what I suspect to be the use of nibs on their side, and the profound coffee in mine.  I have to believe mine has significantly stronger coffee aroma, due most likely to the 1lb addition of Belgian Kiln Coffee malt, as well as potentially due to the brand I used.

But that's just fine.  This is a beer I'm proud to have on draft.  Any dark beer fan will like this one, and that's all that I care about.

Appearance: Black as night.  Evocative of motor oil.  Thick, pleasant head.
Aroma: Coffee, with a hint of chocolate.  Very complex, roasty, intense.
Mouthfeel: Thick, but not heavy.  Surprisingly balanced.  The oats give it a nice creaminess.
Taste: There's hop bitterness, but it balances the sweetness of the beer very well.  Coffee is very strong, and I can't really get the chocolate.  Very much a COFFEE stout, but it hits all the standard stout flavor notes.
Overall:  Love this beer.  I'll make it again, but will cut down on the coffee.  I'm also toying with adding some vanilla beans instead of the chocolate.  For a bit, strong, beer, it's very drinkable.

Final recipe (11.5 gallons):
30lb 2-row
3lb flaked oats
2lb chocolate malt
1.5lb roasted barly
1.13lb black patent malt
1lb belgian kiln coffee malt
1lb caramel 120 malt

4oz Nugget (12%) @ 60min
2oz Willamette (4.7%) @ 30min
1oz Willamette (4.7%) @ 1min
1oz Fuggles (4.0%) @1min

8oz cocoa powder (15min)
4oz Ground Philz Ether coffee (5min)

OG: 1.073
FG: 1.015
ABV: 7.7%
IBU: 69.5


  1. Paul and I want to know how the heck did you get Philz? I figured that was a Bay-area only thing?

    1. It is. I brought a pound back from SF when I was there over new years. Great coffee. Wish I could get some more of their Ether variety.

    2. They do sell online, but maybe you're like me and hate paying for shipping.