Thursday, November 8, 2012

Raven's Milk Stout

One of the great things about being an avid homebrewer is having the ingredients on hand for when you feel like a sudden brew.  At the end of October I was in just such a position - I had a whole Saturday laid out in front of me where I had no plans, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity.  I had yeast, grains, hops, everything I would need.

Unfortunately, with zero plans made, I also hadn't considered what I wanted to make.  Do I need something hoppy?  No, two of the five beers on draft were hoppy.  A wheat? No, I still had some of the Orange Wheat left.

What then?  Oh, I have some roasted barley.  Oh, and some chocolate malt.  Yeah, a stout!  Let's do a stout.

Searching for inspiration, I started poking around, looking for a popular stout recipe to use as my base.

After a few minutes, I discovered Deception Cream Stout, a milk stout recipe.  Perfect!  Let's start brewing.

I run outside and get 4 gallons of water on the burner to come up to temp.  I come back inside and start examining the recipe more closely.

Hmmm... a milk stout with lactose sugar?  With the sweetness of that, I bet some flaked oats would go well in that.  So I grabbed a pound of flaked oats.  Next, I snagged my chocolate malt and started weighing it out, only to discover I only had half a pound while the recipe called for .75 pound. Ok, no problem - I had some Pale Chocolate malt, so I grabbed half a pound of that.  Then I grabbed my bag of roasted barley... only to discover I only had 3 ounces.

This was a problem I could not solve.  With the dark grains already chosen, I was committed to a dark beer.  But without the roasted barley, I couldn't make a very good stout.


I considered my options.

I swore a bit.


I shut off the burner and drove to the local homebrew store.

An hour later, armed with my newly acquired roasted barley (and Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale yeast) I set about making myself a Saturday afternoon stout.

From that point on, it was a fairly standard brew day.  The cooler weather meant that the hose water was running closer to 50 degrees, which definitely helped cool the beer quickly using my immersion chiller.  Due to that, and the fact that I had the brewing setup ready to go when I got back, I was done in about 4.5 hours, which is pretty close to optimal.  As an aside, at my absolute fastest I still need:
1. 30 minutes to set up and heat the strike water
2. 60 minutes to mash the grains
3. 10 minutes to drain the mash
4. 10 minutes to add the sparge water and let it sit
5. 10 minutes to drain the sparge water
6. 30 minutes to get the wort to boiling
7. 60 minutes to boil
8. 30 minutes to cool, get into a carboy, and clean up

So, bare minimum, I'm looking at 4 hours to brew, and I was done in 4:30.  I was pretty happy with that.

From there I fermented at 62, and kegged after a week.

I've had this beer on draft since this past weekend, and it's a gorgeous creamy stout.

Aroma:  Roasty, but not overpowering.  I feel like I get a hint of oatmeal, but it could all be mental. Still a little young (I brewed this beer 11 days ago).
Appearance: Gorgeous.  Deep brown/black, pleasant tan head.  Head retention is not very good, though.
Taste: Smooth.  Not sweet, but smooth.  Rich with a lot of flavor, but not heavy.  Nice roasty flavor up front, with a pleasant and lightly sweet aftertaste.  Leaves you wanting more.
Body: Just right.  I was worried when it finished at 1.016 that it might be a bit thick, but it works well.  Thick enough to know you are drinking a stout, without being too heavy. Extremely drinkable.
Overall:  The more I drink of this beer, the more I want.  It's a solid, solid beer.  Very glad I spent the extra money on the roasted barley and the yeast.  This one is getting made again.  I keep coming back to the word "drinkable".  At 6% and smooth, it's very easy to have a couple pints. If you like dark beers, you'll like this beer.

Final Recipe (5.5 gallons):
7.0lb 2-Row Malt
1.5lb White Wheat Malt
1.0lb Caramel 60 Malt
1.0lb Flaked Oats
0.5lb Chocolate Malt
0.5lb Pale Chocolate Malt
0.5lb Roasted Barley
0.5lb Lactose Sugar (added near the end of the boil)

1.5oz Challenger Hops (60min)

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale yeast

Brewed: 10/27/12
Kegged: 11/03/12
Tasting: 11/08/12
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 23.1


Apologies for the delay since my last post.  I recently switched jobs, and that has taken most of my focus until very recently.  Over the past few weeks I've been able to devote some time to my beers, and here's where things stand:

1. Keezer: The keezer itself is awesome.  The only mod I've had to do is that I switched out the large fan I had in there for a smaller computer fan, so it was quieter and drew less power.

Of the five beers I initially had in my Keezer, I only have two left.  The Chocolate IPA (see below) and the Orange blossom mead aged on vanilla beans.  My IPA kicked earlier this week, my Orange Wheat got bottled off, and my Oktoberfest donated to the office.  I've recently racked the Wee Heavy out of its oak barrel and put it on draft, and I'll get a write-up on that soon.  I also brewed a milk stout last weekend that's already on draft, and I'll have a write-up on that as well.  The IPA just kicked, and I haven't replaced that yet.

2. Competition: This week is the deadline for the FOAM Cup, Tulsa's annual homebrew competition.  I entered 3 beers last year, and my Caramel Cream ale bronze medaled.  This year I've entered five beers:
a. Impudent Whelp IPA - essentially the same beer as the link, but a more recent version dry-hopped with Citra.  This has become my house beer - I love my IPA, and it's well received by the people who try it.
b. Orange Wheat - a beer I made in June for a 4th of July party, which was a pretty standard American Wheat beer but with  Cascade hops and the zest of two whole oranges at the end of the boil.  It was a crowd pleaser, which is why I entered it even though it wasn't a very complex recipe.
c. BarleyWine - I need to get a write-up done for this beer, but it's a barleywine I made last year based on this recipe, which spent 4 months in my oak barrel.  It's a crazy beer, around 13% ABV, thick and oaky and boozy.
d. Breakfast of Champions Stout - this beer has aged very well, and I'm proud of it.  It might do very well.
e. Caramel Cream Ale - this year's version of the beer that medaled last year, with a different yeast.  I'll probably make a third version of this beer sometime in the next few months, and I'll give it the writeup it deserves at that time.

3. Beers that didn't get a full write-up that I've brewed:
a) Chocolate IPA (mentioned above): I took the recipe for The Shinning and made a few tweaks - I dropped the roasted barley, but added 8oz of Caramel 120 and 8oz of Chocolate Rye to the grain bill.  On the hop side, I used Chinook and Columbus in the boil, and dry-hopped with Simcoe.  It's a weird beer.  Just... weird.  Has a nice hop flavor combination, but it's a bit heavy, and the spicyness from the Rye just doesn't quite fit.  A fun, change of pace beer, but it's not one of my best.
b) Fresh Hop - my dad grew hops in his garden this year.  We had Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial.  I am still learning when to pick them, unfortunately.  I used them as both boil and dry hops on a beer, and it did not turn out well.  I think the dry hop is where I went really wrong - I threw whole fresh hops in the beer for two weeks (a normal dry-hopping time), but I think it was way too long as the hops were still moist from the vine.  It extracted a very vegetal asparagus-like aroma and flavor, which I hate.  I've moved this beer into an oak barrel to let it age, and I'll see if I can save it.  Unfortunately the flavor and aroma just wasn't quite right, and I wonder if it's because I included hops that may not have been quite right?  I honestly don't know.

4. Upcoming brews: I expect to brew quite a bit before it gets too cold - I've brewed the last two weekends, will definitely brew this weekend, and hope to get another couple batches in by the end of the year.  I need an IPA to replace the one that kicked recently, I want to brew up an ESB, and I'd like to lager a Marzen over the winter.

I love creating these recipes, and I can't wait to see what I come up with next.  I hope someone out there finds this interesting as well.