This is my second attempt at a sweet stout, the first was a partial mash oatmeal stout, this was a small biab all grain batch designed from a recipe found on beersmithrecipes.com. I made a few changes to my recipe for scaling, in an attempt to smooth it out. I swapped roast barley out for caraffa II, and had to use London ale yeast wy1028, instead of the whitbread strain wy1099. The brew day went as expected, but fermentation crapped out early, leaving a high amount of residual sweetness. When we first had it and it was ok, albeit monotone, it had no bite. My wife thought it was ok, but not great. We compared it side by side to Wachusette milk stout, and it lacked complexity, and was too syrupy.
I wasn’t satisfied, so in an attempt to add complexity, I dosed the keg with cold pressed coffee and a 1/2 vanilla bean. I think the coffee watered down the beer too much, but didn’t add the bite I was hoping for. I used a lightly roasted floral kenyan coffee, when I should have just used a sumatra or espresso roast to match the roast of the grains. The aroma is all mocha, the taste is kinda like coffee milk soda. The initial head is pillowy and brown. There is virtually no carbonation retention. This is what I’d consider a low twenty point beer. Yet again I’ve missed the mark in my attempt to create a thick creamy, low abv sweet stout for my wife to enjoy. The good thing about this is that it’s only 3g, I should be able to kick it soon, and be onto my next attempt at brewing a dark sweet beer for T.
My planned changes: Bring back the roast barley, and keep the caraffa, cut the lactose in 1/2. I’m not sure how I’ll adjust the coffee. I’ll need to do some sensory testing to determine if it’s worth doing. I’ll use a dark roasted coffee with a higher concentration extract. I’m not sure about yeast, if I will try it with wy 1099, since the wy1028 crapped out, and it was supposed to be more attenuative. I’ll be sure to aerate more fully, and keep the fermentation temps higher so yeast doesn’t stall out. If it does, I’ll pitch some us05.
Update 3/16/13: I tasted this again and it turns out it isn’t too bad. Actually it smells great, and tastes pretty good to. The carbonation seems sorted, and the flavors seem to have melded. I commented below, but I’m still on the fence if I’m going to brew this recipe again.