Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Brews

   Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Drinking Buddies Matt, Ryan and Trevor (yours truly) pooled their collective brewing talent to create a beer the likes of which...are probably fairly common for homebrewers.  The recipe is of my own concoction, a smorgasbord of recipes and brew notes from my personal favorite brew book How to Brew and the book Radical Brewing.  Both are pretty great reads; beer writers don't take themselves too seriously.

   The target style was somewhere between an Irish Stout and an Oatmeal Stout.  My typical brews are seriously big beers with OG of 1.080 and higher.  This time i decided to tone down the alcohol, hops and crystal malts in favor of a dry, roasty complexion.  I also wanted to experiment with some of the more common added flavorings.  This is no Voodoo Doughnut, don't worry.

  I haven't decided what to call this one yet.  I keep forgetting which brews are which though, so i may take the time to print out some labels for this beer.  Suggestions for names are welcome, though i'll probably wait until i try the first bottle.  This was a 5 gallon boil (starting) with an added 1 gallon in the carboy.  After the hour boil and straining out the hop pellets, it's still 5 gallons in fermentation.

Thanksgiving Stout (partial extract)

Steeped for 30 minutes at 155F

1/2 pound oats  (5%)
1/2 pound roasted barley  (4%)
1/4 pound chocolate malt  (1.5%)

In the boil

3 pounds pilsen light DME  (44%)

First hop addition

1 oz UK Golding (60 minutes total boil), 5.2% AA

Second hop addition

1 oz Fuggles (30 minutes total boil), 4.0% AA

At knockout

3 pounds golden amber DME  (44%)


Edinburgh Ale Yeast (recommended for malty and medium-high abv beers).  I prefer a liquid yeast as i've had much more consistent yeast activity this way.  Blow-off hoses and gummy airlocks should be rare!

In the primary fermenter

16 oz cold-brewed coffee (Costa Rican light roast)

In the secondary fermenter (next week)

2 oz unsweetened cocoa powder
1 vanilla bean, split

   A few things about this brew deserve notice.  For example, UK Golding hops are mellow enough to be used as finishing hops, but i've decided to use them as bittering hops.  In total, this beer has a calculated IBU around 32 (take that with a grain of salt, as Matt pointed out in a previous post) which is far below my usual range of 50-70.  I have a bad tendency to overhop, which is fine for IPAs and big, malty stouts, but not so much for the nut brown i made last year.
   I've spiced and/or oaked beer in the past, but this was my first foray into using coffee, chocolate and vanilla.  My brew-books suggested that 4-6 ounces of coffee was enough to season a 5 gallon batch, but the Sam Adams Black & Brew claims 1.5 pounds per barrel, which with some really fuzzy math figures out to about 5% coffee.  My 16 ounces of coffee runs at about 2.5%, so that seems fairly reasonable for a mild coffee character.

No explosions forthcoming!
   There seem to be quite a few schools of though on using chocolate and vanilla, so i used the one i thought sounded most reasonable, and i'll let you know how it works.  Using chocolate in bar form was discouraged because of the all the fats that get released into the wort (you have to put bar chocolate into the hot wort to melt it).  Also it sounds like most of the flavor is lost with this process.  I'm not trying to make hot chocolate anyway, so just a touch of powdered cocoa seemed best.  I wasn't originally going to rack this batch to a secondary fermenter, but the conventional wisdom is that the cocoa needs the extra time to mellow.  Finally, i'm adding a vanilla bean to accentuate the roasty flavors of the cocoa, malts and coffee.  I'm adding the bean directly to the secondary -- there should be enough alcohol at this point to pull the flavor from the bean without drenching it in vodka first.  Somehow making extract first doesn't seem authentic enough for me.
   That's it for this brew for now!  If anyone happens to know where i can get a retired bourbon cask, though, let me know.  I'd love to use that for a future brew.

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