New Years Eve Miracle, Milk Stout

I try to brew as often as reasonable, which is usually when I’ve got a keg free, when I’ve got a competition to enter, or it’s been way too long. In 2012 it was more like every 3 months, despite wanting to brew more often. Which is what makes brewing 3 times in december quite an accomplishment. This last batch pushed the 2012 total to 6 batches, 5 beers, one cider, an extract only batch, extract and steeping grains, a partial mash, all grain, and brew in a bag all grain. To say I’m a dabbler might be an understatement. One thing that hasn’t changed a whole lot is what I brew.

This New Years eve brew session was pretty much on a lark. I had picked up a pair of 2.5 gallon kegs from adventures in homebrewing as a christmas gift to myself. From a trip to Valley Malt this fall, I have a stock pile of grain. From stocking up during the fall harvest I also have an abundance of hops. I’ve been thinking of how to fill one of the small kegs, while taking advantage of what I had on hand. 90% of the grain, 100% of the hops, came from what I had on hand. I did still have to make the trip to the home brew shop to pick up yeast, and a few misc things, but it was a little easier on the wallet. I only needed caraffa II, lactose powder, and yeast. Anyone guess what I brewed from the ingredients I picked up? Since kicking the Oatmeal stout, I’ve wanted to brew something dark to go beside the pales I usually brew, and have on tap. My wife likes stouts more than my typical beers. I wanted this to be smoother, richer, than the last stout. In an attempt to smooth this out, I modified the recipe I based my beer off. I swapped out the Roasted Barley, thinking the chocolate malt I have is going to have that edge, and roasted bitter flavor, I swapped the barley for carafa 2. I realize that some might argue that it’s not a stout if it doesn’t contain roast barley, well, it’s going to be a lactose porter then. Trust me it’s dark enough, and I’m confident it’s going to have enough bitterness to match the sweetness. I also plan on dosing the stout with some cold brewed coffee, and a vanilla bean in the keg for added complexity.IMG_2011
Since I was brewing a small batch, I decided to simplify my brew day, keep me from lugging all my equipment up from the basement, and allow me to stay out of the cold, I decided to brew in a bag (BIAB). It’s an all grain technique in which you take all of your brewing water, heat it to strike temp, add the grain to a large mesh bag, and add it to the pot. After 60-90 minutes you remove the bag and grain, and are left with your pre boil wort. It’s less efficient than other brewing techniques, but it’s far simpler. Even for this 3 gallon batch my 5 gallon pot is a little undersized. I had an overflow trying to get the grain bag into the pot. After bailing some water, I got the mash started. I struggled to keep the mash temp in the high range (156) to keep body, and a richer beer, even keeping the burner below the pot on low. The thermometer read 150ish most of the time. Removing the large bag of grains from the 5g pot was also a bit of a chore, trying to prevent a big mess while draining wort from the grain. I rinsed the grain in my 8qt pot to get some additional extraction, because I was planning on topping up the pot anyway.
The boil was uneventful, with our large 3 ring burner, I can get a boil pretty quick. Skimming as it came to a boil, and after hop additions kept the foam at bay from a boil over. As you can see above, I can barely fit the chiller into the pot, but with the cold temps, it chills quite rapidly. I chilled to 65, poured the wort into the fermentor and pitched wyeast 1028. I was really hoping to use 1099, as it’s less attenuative, and more temperature tolerant than the 1028, but the local shop was out. I checked the fermentor tonight, and it’s slowly bubbling away.

Homebrew Tasting Notes: AHS Oatmeal Stout

This is the first stout I’ve brewed, and I’m not really a big stout drinker, so I’m not sure this is a very qualified review this, but I’ll give it a go.
This is a very thick, rich stout. It has plenty of residual sugar, finishing at 1.018 will do that to you.
As you can see from the photo there isn’t much head.
Not super dark, but certainly not the mid brown that you’d expect by the coloring from Beersmith. It’s what I’d consider a standard oatmeal stout.I can taste the bitterness from the grains that escaped from the steeping bag, and were boiled. Actually not bad for this style. I’m pretty sure it would have finished lower, and less thick had I hit my expected volumes during transfer.
The ultimate question is would I brew this beer with this recipe, or would I change it up, and if so what changes would I make. Well, I think I might even change this batch in the keg by tossing in a vanilla bean, and a pint of cold brewed coffee. This will thin it out a bit, and add some complexity. Otherwise, I’m satisfied with the stout.

Brewing AHS Gold Seal Oatmeal Stout

In my prior project update I mentioned the all grain setup, but I had this Oatmeal stout extract kit I purchased from Austin Homebrew Supply that I need to brew. I have told T I would brew her a beer for quite some time, and she enjoys stouts. I also picked this specific kit because it was shelf stable. I wanted to make sure I had something I could be ready to brew anytime, that wouldn’t suffer from sitting around until I had time to brew. I was hoping to brew Saturday evening, but the weather conspired against me. While at the home brew shop picking up the final pieces for the keggerator, I decided to buy liquid yeast. After getting home the yeast was already a little swelled, so I burst the activator with the intention of brewing that evening brew. By the time I was ready to brew, rain was eminent. Once again, I’m left with slightly less optimal yeast. Having to postpone I cleaned stuff and prepped for tonights brew night. Which lead to a funny conversation with T about how much time I spend cleaning stuff for brewing, and how little I spend cleaning other things .

Tonights brew plan:
Put 2 in brew pot.
Increase temp to 158.
Add grain, and steep at 155 for 25.
Fill up swamp warmer w/ water.
Fill 5g pot w/ rest of water to top of boil kettle.
Gather rest of ingredients.
Remove steeped grains and feed to chickens.
Top up water to 5.49 gal.
Add DME while bringing to a boil.
Boil 60 Minutes
@0 add 3/4 oz nugget.
@50 add 1/4 tsb irish moss
@50 add chiller
@60 Stir to whirlpool.
Commence Chilling immediately.
Chill to 65 or as close to as possible.
Transfer to carboy.
Aerate while bringing wort to basement.
Take SG reading.
Set in water bath set at 68.
Some things went ok, like hitting temps and times for steeping and hops.
There are some things I’m still struggling with, cooling, trube, and boil volumes.
I missed my post boil volume significantly, and transferred a ton of crap when I went to primary because I wasn’t able to cool effectively, w/out stirring up a ton of trube.

Things I’ll do different next time.
Steep in 5g pot to allow warming extract and water during steeping time.
Either filter trube, or chill more patiently.

All in all, no fatal flaws, and I hope it turns out well, as we’ll have guests trying it labor day.