I’m not one of these people that have a favorite season. Rather there’s something about each season that’s uniquely pleasant.
With fall officially upon us brings cooler evenings (in the Midwest anyway), bonfires, and an opportunity to open and share a stout or porter without getting odd looks from your beer friends.
Ahh the trusty stout…
It was my first homebrew kit and my first beer I legally bought. There are few stouts that I am not friends with. That being said, I have my pet peeves with the style.
A Great Way to Ruin a Stout
Even from the beginning, there has always been this caustic attribute to stouts that has at times deterred me. I couldn’t describe it well, but I knew I didn’t like it if it was too prevalent. I would liken it to burning a piece of meat and chewing on the charred pieces. It’s bitter, true, but it left an aftertaste that lingers and not in a good way.
Burnt was right on par as I found out. To get that rich black body and opaque character, brewers will generally use a specialty malt called Black Patent.
Or as I like to call it — carbon.
A little of this stuff goes a long way. It’s easy to overuse and the result is a coarse mouthfeel and flavor profile that will take no prisoners.
It’s these stouts that meet the untimely demise of a sink drain around these parts.
(2007 batch of Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout — I’m looking at you.)
Crafting My Own Stout
As a homebrewer, I wanted to craft a stout that I could:
- Enjoy making,
- Live within the BJCP style, and
- Share with friends on a crisp autumn night around a fire
My inspiration actually came from a Porter recipe I found on another forum. This Brewer didn’t use any patent malt at all, but rather other specialty malts such as chocolate and Special B to get the same richness and opacity.
The mouthfeel and flavor profile simply came to life in a whole new dimension for me. Chocolate malt is about half the color intensity (225 SRM instead of 500 SRM) but the flavor explodes in a fantastic way. You truly get the dark chocolate memories, which lingers on the very back of you tongue, along with a great roasted coffee and a slight sweetness from the malt itself.
I didn’t just want to make a stout, though. Why stop there, when you can add MORE?
So, I looked to a second love of mine: coffee. Coffee is very interesting, especially when you start thinking of it like beer. Make it too hot, and you will scorch it which affects the flavor. Don’t steep it long enough and you don’t extract the full potential of the coffee bean.
It’s the perfect ingredient!
Well, almost. Coffee, when brewed, has a pH of around 5. If you’ve tried to make a beer with coffee then you know that the acidity of the coffee along with the already acidic wort can have undesirable, if downright undrinkable, results.
So I found another way.
Cold Toddy Coffee
It turns out, there’s a way to make coffee even more awesome, with more flavor and less acidity as long as you are patient. It’s called the Cold Toddy (or Cold Brewing) technique.
Here’s a blurb from Wikipedia:
The cold-press process requires grinding: coarse-ground beans are soaked in water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. The water is normally kept at room temperature, but chilled water can also be used. The grounds must be filtered out of the water after they have been steeped using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, a French press or felt in the case of the Toddy system. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or milk, and can be served hot, over ice, or blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate.
If you are a coffee drinker, give it a try. Also give nitro cold brewed coffee a taste. Make some coffee this way, heat up some water on the stove, and mix to your desired profile and temperature. For beer, though, just filter it with a sanitized filter or sieve, and add to your homebrew in secondary.
CTC Stout Recipe
Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Original Gravity: 1.088
Est Final Gravity: 1.020
IBU: 30 (that’s for the beer, but the coffee does add some bitterness also. I haven’t been able to measure that though)
8.5 lbs English Pale Malt
4 lbs Maris Otter (Or Golden Promise)
2 lbs Caramel 60L
1 lbs Pale Chocolate Malt
.5 lbs Honey Malt
.5 lbs Coffee Malt
2oz Kent Goldings at 60 min
1oz Fuggles at 10 min
Wyeast #1318 – London Ale III
Boil for 60 minutes. Mash for 60 minutes at 152F. After fermentation, add 12oz Cold Toddy/Cold Brew Coffee to the secondary. I usually let it sit for 5 days before keg/bottling
Do you have a good stout that you love to brew? We would love to hear about it! Care to give this recipe a try and give us your feedback? We are always looking to perfect our craft!