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

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