Posts Tagged 'stout'

AG#30 – The Ringmaster American Stout


American Stout – another style of beer that has been on my “to-do” list for a long time. When I first started getting into craft beer I was extremely taken with Sierra Nevada’s Stout. It’s rich and roasty, but with a background citrussy hop flavour from the use of American hops. It’s not a combination that sounds great, but it’s one of my favourite styles of beer. Sadly, the Sierra Nevada Stout is no longer available in Ireland, which seems very odd. All of the Sierra Nevada beers are available here at various times during the year – Hoptimum, Flipside, even the Beer Camp releases. It’s also strange that the Porter is freely available here, but not the Stout.

So for this beer, I’m essentially trying to clone the Sierra Nevada stout. I’m using the recipe from BYO magazine, even though that’s probably a little out of date. There’s a massive percentage of Munich malt in the recipe and a lot of black malt. Hopping is Cascade and Willamette, two classic American varieties. I’ll be re-using the US-05 yeast slurry from my Cammock Stout.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.40 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.40 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.068 SG
Estimated Color: 74.4 EBC
Estimated IBU: 61.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.1 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 60.0 %
1.500 kg Munich Malt (17.7 EBC), 21.4 %
0.500 kg Black (Patent) Malt (985.0 EBC), 7.1 %
0.500 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 7.1 %
0.300 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (147.8 EBC), 4.3 %
26 g Magnum [14.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 50.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
40 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.1 IBUs
25 g Willamette [5.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs

25 g Centennial [10.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (400ml slurry from Cammock Stout)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 7.000 kg
Mash In           Add 19.60 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 13.31l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 14/03/2015 – Fantastic smell from mash, really roasty.

Brew Day 15/03/2015 – Smelt amazing while the boil was in progress. It reminded me of the amazing grainy flavour from the Guinness factory. Good run-off from boiler.

04/04/2015 – Bottled with 118g corn sugar (18 litres at 2.5 vol). Got 6 x 750ml bottles and 27 x 500ml bottles from the batch.

29/05/2015 – Pretty happy with how this has turned out. I’d definitely do the recipe again, but not without a few small tweaks. There’s a bit of an acidic bite, but I don’t know whether that’s from the roasted malts, or the fact that it’s slightly over-carbonated. Lovely roasty flavour and caramel sweetness. The American hops are there but only in a supporting role. Might sub a small percentage of the black malt for Carafa Special next time. Might also use more Cascade to make it scream “American hops”.

18/06/2015 – The acidic bite is still there, defintely down to excessive carbonation and use of highly roasted malts. Just looking at the BYO recipe, the black malt is specified as 500L, whereas the black malt I use (preumably from either Muntoms or Fawcetts) is 1300 EBC, or 650L. So quite a bit more roasty. I think cutting the black malt with some dehusked Carafa Special would give great results. The best thing about this beer is the hop flavours, absolutely fantastic, I wouldn’t change a thing.

25/07/2015 – This is a very nice beer. I think that the acidity mentioned above is simply caused by it being overcarbonated. The black malt balance is pretty good, it might just need a couple of months to age out. Lovely mouthfeel, probably from the wheat. Fantastic hop flavours too. I don’t think the recipe is quite there, but needs little adjustment. Would also consider reducing the bitterness slightly also.

17/01/2016 – Second last bottle and still tasting great. Fantastic blend of chocolate, coffee and resiny American hops. Would brew this again.

AG#28 – Cammock Stout


I still remember the fantastic smells that used to come out of the St. James Gate brewery from the days when I lived in Kilmainham. The smell was sometimes a sour, lactic smell (boiling the famous “Guinness Extract” perhaps?). On other days the smell would be like putting your nose into a freshly opened bag of Weetabix. Lovely stuff.

This brew is my first attempt at a dry Irish stout, coming similar to Guinness or Beamish. The recipe has a very simple grain bill consisting only of pale malt, roasted barley, flaked barley and a little wheat malt. I’m hoping for plenty of mouthfeel from the flaked barley, but without much sweetness. I like my stouts on the roasty side, so there’s plenty of roasted barley in there to give the coffee and burnt toast flavours I’m looking for.

I’ll keeping this sessionable, as befits the style – none of the commercial dry Irish stouts are over 4.5% ABV. I plan on bottling conditioning this.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 27.92 l
Post Boil Volume: 23.92 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 80.3 EBC
Estimated IBU: 40.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 72.6 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


3.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter, Crisp (6.5 EBC), 65.3 %
1.000 kg Barley, Flaked (3.3 EBC), 20.4 %
0.500 kg Roasted Barley (1300.0 EBC), 10.2 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 4.1 %
26 g East Kent Goldings [6.50 %] – Boil 60.0, 24.2 IBUs
26 g Fuggles [4.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 16.0 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 4.900 kg
Mash In           Add 13.72 l of water at 74.6 C          68.0 C        60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun , 19.61l) of 77.0 C water

Mash Day 06/02/2015 – Had a bit of trouble with mash temperatures. Overshot with the cold water I added to bring the strike temperature down. And had to boil a kettle of water to bring the temperature back up. Mashed around 66C. Mash smelled great. Pretty slow runoff from the mash tun, caused by the flaked barley, perhaps?

Brew Day 07/02/2015 – Pretty enjoyable brew day because I got started early in the morning, and with so few hop additions, the boil was pretty low maintenance. Slow runoff from boiler. Got nearly 20 litres into the fermenter. Rehydrated sachet of US-05 and got signs of fermentation within 24 hours. Fermented pretty cold.

04/03/2015 – Bottled with 130g of glucose, but didn’t bother to calculate carbonation. Got 8 x 750ml and 23 x 500ml bottles from the batch. Took final gravity reading because I fermented this pretty cold. Got an FG of 1.006-1.008. Tastes pretty good.

17/03/2015 – It being St. Patrick’s Day, I just had to open up a bottle of this. I’ve been homebrewing since 2010 and I’m never organised enough to have a nice stout ready for the festivities. It tastes extremely good, even though it’s only been in the bottle for 2 weeks. The flaked barley gives it great body for a 4.5% beer, but without sweetness, exactly as flaked barley is supposed to do. It’s got a good firm bitterness, but balances the malt nicely. However, it’s not quite as roasty as I was expecting. I thought a half kilo of roasted barley would give a lot more dry roasted flavours. I do think it needs some small improvements. It lacks something in the flavour department which would make it sing – some Munich or biscuit, just a little bit, to give the malt profile an extra dimension. Not very traditional, I know. I might also try replacing half of the roasted barley with black malt, to give more dryness. Great first attempt at a dry stout, though.

18/03/2015 – A little light on flavour, perhaps. Using an American ale yeast probably didn’t help – I might have better results with the Guinness strain, WLP004. Definitely needs more roast too – black malt next time.

BIAB#7 – Trade Winds Imperial Stout


This recipe has been on the cards for a long time now. It’s sort of influenced by the Brewdog Abstrakt range – high gravity beers fermented or aged with wacky ingredients. It’s got a pirate/seafaring feel to it – muscovado sugar, oak chips, star anise, so I decided to give it a name that is worthy. This will hopefully be a big stout with big flavours.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 7.20 l
Post Boil Volume: 5.20 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 l
Bottling Volume: 3.50 l
Estimated OG: 1.086 SG
Estimated Color: 109.2 EBC
Estimated IBU: 65.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


1.900 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC), 77.4 %
0.130 kg Chocolate Malt (886.5 EBC), 5.3 %
0.130 kg Roasted Barley (591.0 EBC), 5.3 %
0.080 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (78.8 EBC), 3.3 %
0.080 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (147.8 EBC), 3.3 %
0.055 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (3.9 EBC), 2.2 %
10 g Magnum [10.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 65.2 IBUs
0.13 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.080 kg Brown Sugar, Dark [Boil for 15 min], 3.3 %
1.00 Items Anise, Star (Boil 10.0 mins)
0.5 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
15.00 g Oak Chips (Secondary 7.0 days)

Mash Schedule: Bubbles Small Batch BIAB Mash
Total Grain Weight: 2.455 kg
Saccharification  Add 8.65 l of water at 77.2 C           68.0 C        60 min

01/06/2014 Brew Day – Easy peasy brew day. Smells great, serious roasty aromas.

19/06/2014 – Racked from the bucket to a demi-john and added 15g of oak chips. I want this to have a big oak flavour. I got lazy though, and didn’t sanitise the oak chips. In a beer as strong as this, I’m sure it will be okay. And as I have only 5 litres, I doubt it will last long enough to develop any off-flavours.

27/06/2014 – Bottled using carb drops. Got 8 bottles. Pretty oaky. Don’t get much anise flavour though it might develop over time. Now the long wait.

23/09/2014 – Terrific body, flavour and head retention. The only problem is that the intense oak flavour becomes overwhelming by the time you get to the end of the 500ml glass. It’s an odd beer – enjoyable yet overwhelming. Having said that, the stout flavour stands up well to the oak with plenty of roastiness and lots of balancing caramel. Bit of astringency though, which I’m not too happy with. Can’t tell whether this is due to the oak chips or the roasted grains.

02/11/2014 – This is extremely disappointing. It’s under-carbonated, but not overly so. The oaking is a little aggressive too, but not so much that it’s undrinkable. The main problem is that the level of astringency makes the beer difficult to drink. I’ve done beers with similar levels of roasted malt as this, but without the astringency. So it’s obviously something in the mash process that is dragging the astringency out of the grain. (EDIT: just done some googling, and there’s a lot of stories about the ability of oak chips to contribute astringent flavours in beer. It seems the level of oak was just too much, though I wouldn#t discount the fact that I didn’t sanitise the oak chips in a steamer this time. I’m guessing the action of the steaming draws out some of the more unpleasant and harsh flavours from the oak chips.

AG#4 – Pork Chop Porter


The amusingly-named Pork Chop Porter was the first dark beer I ever attempted. How delighted was I when I discovered how good it turned out. It was based on Jamil Zainasheff’s Robust Porter recipe in Brewing Classic styles, albeit with a few minor changes to the grain and hop bill. I used the same bittering to gravity ratio though and the same proportion of roasted malts. It turned out to be fantastically balanced and the level of roast in the beer was spot-on. Pork Chop scored an impressive 38/50 in the 2013 National Homebrew Championship and I want to try the recipe again, making a few changes to get a bit more character into the beer.

Where the beer fell down was the level of alcohol. It was at the very limits of ABV for robust porters, but it actually came out a little over the predicted gravity. The extremely perceptive judges noted this and both felt that it had been entered in the wrong category.  Pretty disappointing to have lost out on a higher score due to such a technicality, but that’s brewing competitions for you. Being able to accurately categorise your beer is all part of the process. This time around, I’ll be using the exact same recipe, but possibly entering it in the “Foreign Extra Stout” category which has a higher limit for ABV than “Robust Porter”. Of course, it all depends on how it tastes when it’s fully-conditioned. This was my downfall the last time, and I’ll be carefully assessing the beer before deciding which category to enter it in in.

I’m going to increase the amounts of black malt and chocolate malt just slightly, but keeping the proportions of these lighter and darker roasted grains the same. I’ll also be adding the small portion of Munich malt to add more depth to the maltiness. The 170g of amber malt in my original recipe will be replaced with 300g brown malt.

In order to replicate the original recipe, I need to adjust the recipe for the ad-hoc changes I made the first time around in BeerSmith, my current brewing software. Punching the original recipe into BeerTools (the online version) gives me a different OG and IBU than I got when I was brewing this beer for the first time. It’s now giving me an OG of 1.063. I can’t figure out why I’m getting the extra two points given that I’m specifying the same malt varieties (though not necessarily the same maltsters). Also, I didn’t record what efficiency I was using at the time, though I’m pretty sure I would have been using the default BeerTools 72%.

I made some last minute additions to the recipe way back then, because I only realised at the last minute that I wouldn’t be able to do the sparge step that I had intended to do. Fearing for my efficiency, I added an extra 300g of base malt and 100g of spraymalt. I’ve put these extra fermentables into BeerTools in an effort to find out what my true  targeted OG should have been. It’s coming out as an OG of 1.068 and an ABV of 6.9%! That’s quite an increase, though according to my notes, my calculated OG was still only 1.065. So I’m not sure how to approach this… I want exactly the same beer though I’m worried that if I just target 1.065, then it won’t have the luscious mouthfeel of the first batch – the “no-sparge” may have contributed significantly to this quality. I’m going to target an OG of 1.068 and hopefully if my efficiency is slightly off, I’ll still be in the same ballpark.

I recorded a mash temperature of 68C which of course I’ll be shooting for again, but this time my excellent mash tun will ensure that I won’t have any heat losses.

Recipe Specifications

Boil Size: 25.88 l
Post Boil Volume: 22.88 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 17.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.066 SG
Estimated Color: 38.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 38.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 69.5 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


4.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 59.0 %
1.600 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 23.6 %
0.450 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 6.6 %
0.340 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM), 5.0 %
0.225 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 3.3 %
0.170 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 2.5 %
24 g Northern Brewer [9.70 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 30.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 15.0, 4.9 IBUs
21 g Goldings, East Kent [6.00 %] – Boil 1.0, 3.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Dry English Ale (White Labs #WLP007), 300ml yeast slurry from Penny Lane Brown Ale

Mash Schedule: Bubbles’ Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 6.785 kg
Mash In           Add 19.00 l of water at 75.9 C          68.0 C        60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (Drain mash tun, , 14.18l) of 77.0 C water


24/11/2013 Brew Day – Mash water was 82.2°C before transfer to mash tun. 77.5°C after transfer. Did some stirring and settled on a strike temperature of 75.8°C. Mash temperature was 68°C, bang on target. Temperauture at the end of the mash was 67.2°C. Heated sparge water to 88°C but the temperature of the grain bed had dropped to 73.4°C after transfer to MT!!

Took a pre-boil gravity reading and got brain got mixed up; I thought I was reading the original gravity and was disappointed to see 1.056. Delighted when I realised my mistake and even more delighted when I checked my notes in BeerSmith and discovered that the pre-boil gravity was perfect.

However, I got 25 litres for my pre-boil volume, not the ~25.5 litres I expected. My measure original gravity was a point or two lower than expected as a result of the higher finishing volume.

I forgot to take a post-boil volume reading, but I got a lot more into the fermenter than expected: 20 litres instead of 19. I think I need to pay closer attention to the sparge water temperature and to slightly reduce (in BeerSmith) my values for “boil-off” and “losses to trub”. Then my system might be more predictable than it currently is.

Still, a very successful brew day havnig almost hit my numbers. I pitched about 350ml of WLP007 yeast slurry and there were visibile signs of fermentation a couple of hours later. This time I took the precaution of using a 33 litre fermenter as I feared a volcanic fermentation, it being a dark, high-gravity beer.

25/11/2013 – Airlocks are hugely entertaining! Lots of blip-blip-blipping going on! I’d filled the airlock with StarSan and some of it has spilled out of the airlock because the fermentation is so vigorous. I’d say there’s at least 3 bubbles per second.

26/11/2013 – Still big bubbling going on, but the kreusen is only a finger high. Not as volcanic as I’d feared. Could be a feature of the WLP007 yeats I’m using.

26/11/2013 – Evening time. Kreusen has fallen – this WLP007 is a beast!! Either that, or the fermentation has gone horribly wrong. Still plenty of action in the airlock and lots of small bubbles coming through the surface of the beer. I’ll do a gravity and temperature reading tomorrow I think.

11/12/2013 – Bottled with 130g dextrose. Got 35 bottles from the batch though I expected to get more than this. Calculated my priming sugar at 19 litres at 2.5 vol = 130g. FG was a little bit higher than expected at 1.016, but it tastes great. A lot of sweetness but plenty of bitterness and roasty flavour to balance it.

PM#9 – Black Widow – Anniversary Stout 2013


Recently, I got the idea of brewing a big beer for consumption in October to celebrate my third year of being a homebrewer. A barleywine is an obvious choice, but I think I prefer the idea of a high-gravity stout which will fall somewhere between a foreign extra stout and an imperial stout. It will be around 8% ABV and I’m planning on using some darker crystal malts which will smoothen out over 8 months aging and should lend the beer some intense vinous flavours. I’ll use a good quantity of roasted barley also which will also mellow into a smooth roastiness during the extended aging period. Hopping will be kept simple with a single bittering addition of Magnum and a large charge of Northern Brewer for flavour. I’ll be targeting a robust bitterness of 55 IBU which will mellow slightly between now and October.

I was planning on using this beer to make my first foray into the world of oak-aging, using an ounce or two of medium-toast American oak chips. But I’ve decided to leave the oak for my next stout, which is going to be a bigger Imperial stout.


Boil Size: 15.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 13.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.082 SG
Estimated Color: 37.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 55.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


2.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) 47.0 %
0.275 kg Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) 5.6 %
0.240 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) 4.9 %
0.160 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.160 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.160 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.400 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) 8.2 %
14 g Magnum [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 34.1 IBUs
1.200 kg Light Dry Malt Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM) 24.5 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
40 g Northern Brewer [9.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 16.5 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Day 04/03/2013 – At the last minute, I decided to increase my gravity to bring this beer up to 8.5% ABV. I mis-calculated with the temperature of the strike water. It was 72°C and after doughing-in it had dropped to 65.5°C. I attempted to put some heat under the small mash pot but I was worried about the grain bag melting on me. I also figured that a more fermentable wort might be a desirable in such a big beer. (Thinking about it now, I’m not sure I’d want this in a big stout. I like them to be pretty chewy.) Let the mash stand for 60 mins anyway. I didn’t stir during the mash.

Brew Day 05/03/2013 – Pretty uneventful brew day, until I measure my OG. I had confidently topped up to the 15 litre mark on one of the large fermenters and took a gravity reading. My OG stood at 1.076 instead of 1.082. Not entirely disastrous but still not what I was shooting for. I’ll likely end up with a beer just under 8% now. The wort looked and smelled great but not the syrupy consistency I expected. Could this be the lower mash temperature? I suspect the drop in mash efficiency was due to the lower temperature mash, but it’s also conceivable that I was off with my volume of top-up water. I think the beer will still be pretty good; it’s hardly likely to be thin in body when it’s 7.8% ABV. But I am concerned that the gravity and body won’t stand up to the extra 10 IBUs I added to compensate for the increased target OG. The sample from the trial jar did not taste hugely roasty either – but there was a huge amount of sweetness there which could have masked it. Fresh sachet of US-05, rehydrated with boiled water.

06/03/2013 – Small layer of kreusen on top this morning. I’m expecting this to be a very volcanic fermentation given the high gravity and the high proportion of roasted malts.

12/03/2013 – Surprised to see the kreusen has completely dropped in this, which is most uncharacteristic for US-05. Maybe I had a bigger pitch rate than I thought? 1 sachet in a 15-litre batch? I’m worried that the recent cold temperatures may have made the yeast drop out. Moved into kitchen to warm up, just in case it has gone to sleep.

13/03/2013 – No activity this morning and it looks and smells like beer. It’s still got a few small bubbles rising to the top, so it looks like it’s fermenting or at least cleaning up. I’ll leave it a few more days and take a gravity reading. If it’s fully fermented out, I’ll probably leave it another week. With such a big OG I don’t want to be rushing this off the yeast.

22/03/2013 – Bottled using 80g dextrose. Got 14 bottles regular stout, 10 bottles of vanilla bourbon stout – each primed with 10ml of vanilla-infused bourbon, and finally two bottles of an experimental stout: bottled aged with chipotle chilli. Each bottle got half a chipotle with the seeds and pith carefully removed.

11/08/2013 – This is actually my second taste of this, and it’s really good. Great caramel and body. Could probably use a touch more roast to balance all that caramel, but the balance is not bad at all. The burnt aftertaste is really nice. It’s quite boozy, but the alcohol isn’t hot or overpowering. Even though it’s at the lower end of the scale of ABV for Russian Imperial Stouts, it certainly drinks like an RIS. It’s got the body and the alcohol presence to push it firmly into the “Imperial” category. Plenty of balancing bitterness there, I just hope there will still be plenty of bitterness for next years competition.

26/08/2013 – Had a bottle of this last night. Didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the last bottle, but that could have been because my palate was shot with several hoppy IPAs. It’s really smooth and caramelly. The alcohol is noticeable but it’s quite smooth also. I’m not sure if the bitterness level is going to stand up to another 6 months aging, but we’ll have to see. I’m planning on opening a bottle of the bourbon version soon too.

28/08/2013 – I was just reading on John Palmer’s online version of “How to Brew” that roasted barley has “less of a charcoal bite to it than does Black Patent”. This might explain why I’m not getting the same lovely burnt toast aftertaste that I got with my Pork Chop Porter, which used black malt.

See here:

06/10/2013 – Even though I planned on “cellaring” this beer for my 3-year anniversary, there’s actually few bottles left. I gave a few of them away and have been periodicaly sampling the odd bottle too. But I do have a couple left with which to toast my 3-year anniversary as a home brewer. The beer did not turn out quite as I hoped; it’s not nearly as roast as I like my big stouts. It also missed it’s gravity by quite a few points and the low mash temperature also means it’s lighter bodied than I’d hoped. Having said that, it’s still a great beer and the alcohols have aged out to the extent that you’d never know this was an 8% beer you were drinking. While the body is relatively light, there is plenty of caramel malts peeking through. It’s very complex, in fact. The bourbon version is also delicious, plenty of vanilla and bourbon flavour showing through, but not overwhelmingly so. I might even push the dosage to 12ml (or even beyond) on subsequent versions of this. I hope to crack open another bottle of this on the 10th!

17/10/2013 – I finally opened a bottle of the Chipotle-aged stout and all I can say is “wow”! A really good result, but I think the level of heat would be too much for most people. You are left in doubt as to what sort of beer this is. There’s a huge smoke flavour from it too, really complex. I’ll definitely do this again, though I might consider reducing the amount of pepper I put in each bottle. I’ll try a quarter of a dried pepper next time and see what that does to the flavour. I can report that the chili stays intact in the bottle which is something I was a little worried about. But it sinks to the bottom of the bottle and easily drops out of the bottle with the beer dregs. It’s a really good experiment to try as you get a second beer out of your batch of stout. And you can experiment with flavours on a bottle by bottle basis. My next stout is going to be bulk-aged with some ancho chilis, along with some other Mexican flavourings to produce a mole stout.


11/01/2014 Pre-competition Tasting – Pours with an impressive, thick head. Aroma is sweet caramel and roast. Not a huge amount of alcohol on the nose. Taste is absolutely fantastic! Roasty and sweet and the level of alcohol is really subdued for a beer that’s almost 8%. Great raisin-fruit flavours in abundance, even though the beer is pretty cold in the glass. Should improve immeasurably as it warms in the glass. Finishes dry. Perfectly balanced after the extended aging period. A definite entry for 2014’s competition, but most definitely in the “Foreign Extra Stout” category, not “Russian Imperial Stout”!

12/01/2014 – Wow! The vanilla-bourbon version has held up extremely well! As happened with the last time I did this treatment to a porter, it has taken on an extraordinary chocolate-like quality. It’s got a real smoothness too, which puts me in mind of an intense coffee-chocolate milkshake. For that reason, I’m going to enter it in the competition as “Five Dollar Shake”. Tastes absolutely fantastic. Very impressive head which lasts very well, a half-finger of dense, mocha-coloured foam. Wonderful. Hope the judges think so.

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