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Saturday, 6 December 2014

BIAB #12 - Black Forest Stout 3 (Re-re-brew)...

Having had experienced an absolute nightmare with my previous attempt with this brew, I decided to cool my jets and play it sensible, sticking more closely with the recipe I had originally created. Well, I say sticking with, I have made a few minor tweaks to the amounts and decided to throw in some lactose to add a bit of sweetness. I’ve also changed the brand of cherries, from Opies Black Cherries in Kirsch to Aldi’s own brand infused in a cherry syrup. They’re less expensive and pack a helluva lot more of that all important cherry flavour. So, not sticking with the original recipe at all then.

The plan is to forgo any silliness and go for a straightforward brew - mash for 90 minutes at 67°C (dropping to 65°C). The usual 60 minute boil, with some Northern Brewer for bittering, cherries thrown in at 55 mins and then chuck in the lactose with 10 minutes to go. No messing! As for the yeast, this time I’ve decided to play it safe and go for some Whitelabs California Ale as so not to muddy the flavours of the other ingredients.

The brew couldn’t have gone more smoothly. BrewMate was predicting an OG of 1.057, but I ended up with 1.060 (due to the addition of lactose), which if it dropped down to the predicted 1.020 should give me a beer that’s around 5.2%. Going into the FV the wort was tasting very good, with a slight hint of the cherry which I hoped would increase as it ferments, not to mention masses of chocolate, in both aroma and flavour. This actually surprised me as no cocoa had even been near the wort at this stage. The lactose really balanced out the bitterness of chocolate and roasted barley to give it a smooth chocolate taste. I actually contemplated leaving out the cocoa infused vodka potion, but again that would be deviating from my original plan. 

After a week it did indeed ferment out at 1.020 and it was tasting exactly how I wanted - a lovely sweet chocolate base with some subtle cherry sourness on top, which should only get more prominent once the beer carbs up. When it came to bottling, I threw in 70ml each of the cacao nib and vanilla pod potions I’d been infusing for some time. I knew the vanilla would be slightly overpowering whilst the beer is young, but from my experience, this should settle down a little and complement the chocolate notes. 

After a couple of weeks of carbing and conditioning, it was time to sample the beer. As predicted it was indeed vanilla heavy, completely masking the chocolate flavour and even the cherry with only some slight sourness coming through in the tail. Just a week later it was a whole different story - the vanilla had calmed down and was now playing nicely with the chocolate and malts and cherry flavour was really starting to rise up out of the murk with its sour bite giving way to a more sweeter dessert like flavour. 

It was certainly bang on my self-set brief to create a rich dessert beer and I’m very pleased with the results. My only disappointment is the lack of body of a good stout. It’s lightly carbed and has a great head on pouring, but that diminishes quickly. Next time I will increase the addition of flaked oats. So overall it turned out to be a decent brew and any worry I have about sharing it with my peers on the Beer O’Clock Show lessens each time I crack open a bottle.

Grain Bill...
3.5 kg Maris Otter Malt (70%)
450 g Chocolate (9%)
400 g Flaked Oats (8%)
250 g Roasted Barley (5%)
200 g Torrified Wheat (4%)
200 g Vienna (4%)

Hop Bill...
30 g - Northern Brewer Leaf (9.6% Alpha) @ 60 Minutes (Boil) (1.4 g/L)

Misc Bill...
800g - Black Cherries (in syrup) @ 55 Minutes (Boil)
0.5 g - Irish Moss @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
500 g - Lactose @ 10 Minutes (Boil)
70 g - Cocoa Nibs @ 0 Minutes (Bottling)
70 g - Vanilla @ 0 Minutes (Bottling)

Single step Infusion at 67°C for 90 Minutes (dropping to 65°C).
Fermented at 20°C with WLP001 - California Ale

OG: 1.060
FG: 1.020
ABV: 5.2%