Thursday, 13 February 2014

BIAB #4 - Guatemalan Insanity Stout

As a bit of friendly competition, the fellas at Macc Homebrew decided to have a "Stout Off", to see who could conjure up the best..err..stout. I have previously brewed what could loosely be named a stout and despite being pleased with the overall flavour, I was far from pleased with the body. Regardless of the recipe I decided upon, I wanted that stout creaminess, and that called for flaked oats...and plenty of them. Scouting around looking at various recipes it seemed the ideal amount was 10% off your grain bill. As I already had some chocolate and crystal malt in the cupboard, I only needed oats and a base malt, good old Maris Otter of course.

20 grams enough? Naaah.
So with the base stout sorted I wanted something to make it stand out. Having always had a thing for coffee-heavy stouts, it was a no brainer. I scoured the internet for a suitable coffee and stumbled across Whittard's Guatemalan Antigua ground coffee, described as having a flavour of 'sweet honey with a hint of spice and chocolate', sounded bloody delicious! I immediately put in an order! The coffee's Guatemalan origin brought to mind an episode of the Simpsons where, having eaten a Guatemalan Insanity Pepper, Homer went on a hallucinogenic journey and woke up the next day in a golf bunker. Just the kind of experience I wanted from my stout, the now named - Guatemalan Insanity Stout!

No, it's not a urine sample.
However, although I wanted a big coffee punch, the bitterness needed to be balanced out with something mellow. At the time I'd been reading Randy Mosher's superb book - Radical Brewing, particularly a section about making potions. Yes, that's right - potions! This basically involves adding herbs or spices to vodka and leaving it infuse over a number of weeks, then adding said infusion to your beer before bottling. Vanilla partners up well with coffee, so I bought some fresh pods from my local Tesco and threw them in a jar with couple of glugs of Smirnoff. Randy says to leave it for a week or two, but it only took a day before the vodka started absorbing that vanillary goodness.

As not to leave things last minute as I usually do, I tried to plan ahead and put my grain order in with The Malt Miller in plenty of time. I received my package a couple of days before the #brewday, but unfortunately, due to being a muppet and not double checking the amounts before submitting my order, I was shy of 1kg of Maris Otter. Unless I could get my mitts on some grain sharpish, brewday would have to be postponed. A shout out to the Twitter folk was in order to see if anyone could point me in the general direction of a local supplier. Despite a few helpful retweets, I was still no closer to obtaining the 1kg I required. Then one of the chaps from the homebrew club (cheers Mike!) mentioned that Red Willow's Toby had said at one of the meetings that if we were ever short of anything to give him a shout. So I threw a message his way and he kindly obliged! Brewday arrived and with tub in hand I paid Toby a visit at the brewery. He kindly supplied me with the grain I was severely lacking (plus a bit more for good measure) and asked what I was brewing and what my grain bill was. Imparting some expert advice he also supplied me a scoop of black malt and Carafa III to give the stout a few more EBC units. As I didn't seek the advice I don't think it counts as cheating...does it? Does it?

Sac magique...
With brewday back on track I kicked off proceedings. I weighed the grain poured them into the new muslin sacks I had sewn with my own fair hands...on a real sewing machine (with tutelage from the missus)! The weave of the cloth was a bit slacker than the ones supplied with the Massive Brewery kit, so hopefully I'd gain a bit more efficiency, and I also made them an inch wider to give me a bit more room to maneuver when stirring the grain. I wanted to make sure this bad boy had plenty of body so I decided to up the temperature of the mash rest to 67°C, which would produce more unfermentable sugars and thus less alcohol in the end product, but I counteracted this with an ample addition of muscovado sugar. Hopefully that rum molasses flavour would add an extra dimension to the stout. With the sacks submerged there was indeed plenty of extra room to stir, so I was pleased with my handy work. 

Nothing particularly notable happened during the mash and sparging stages, except I'm glad to say the stitching of the sacks stood up to some forceful squeezing! With the boil on I threw in the sugar and the first hop addition of Northern Brewer. 30 minutes later I poured in the 750ml of coffee that I had steeped that morning in boiling water (80 grams worth), then 5 minutes from the end chucked in the second sack of hops, this time the Willamette. I thought that I would have been able to smell the coffee, but all I could whiff was that familiar boiling wort scent, which made me worry that I hadn't added enough. Thankfully when it had cooled and I grabbed a gravity sample that lovely coffee aroma, not to mention flavour, was very much present. My BrewMate recipe had predicted an OG of 1.066, and what I ended up with was 1.060, and possibly without the coffee addition I might have hit that. A massive improvement over previous brews, so I reckon the new sacks did the trick! Hurrah!

With the wort cooled, thrown into the FV and the yeast pitched (good old US-05 of course), it's just the usual waiting game. After just couple of hours I was seeing some vigorous yeast activity, you could say they were going 'insane' for it *ahem*, I just hope other people do too! In a couple of weeks time I shall throw in a couple of shots worth of the vanilla vodka before bottling, well...maybe one shot as it's starting to look and smell pretty potent!

 Name Type   EBC PercentageAmount
Maris Otter MaltGrain7.957.23 %1.86 Kg
Crystal 120Grain12012.00 %390 g
ChocolateGrain3509.23 %300 g
Flaked OatsAdjunct19.23 %300 g
Muscavado SugarSugar507.69 %250 g
Black MaltGrain6003.08 %100 g
Carafa III maltGrain5251.54 %50 g


 Name AA% Amount Use Time
Northern Brewer9.6%18 gBoil60 mins
Willamette7.1%10 gBoil5 mins


 Name Amount Use Time
Coffee80 gBoil30 mins
Irish Moss0.50 gBoil5 mins
Vanilla10 gBottling0 mins