Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brew Day: Curly's Milk Stout

About a year ago my home was overwhelmed with beer. Brewing one or two five gallon batches every month, and then buying the latest and greatest commercial beers can certainly add up quickly. That is when I started brewing one and two gallon batches, which also enabled me to brew all-grain BIAB batches on my stove-top.

The main downside to small-batch brewing is that if the beer turns out to be excellent, and you only brew a one gallon batch, you only have eight 12oz bottles of this excellent beer that took the same amount of work as a larger batch. This is exactly what happened with my first small batch brew.

I had wanted to brew a milk stout for awhile. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro is one of my favorite beers. Zymurgy had a feature on milk stouts including a recipe for one of the original examples: Mackeson Triple XXX Stout. I combined elements of those two beers with elements of an earlier stout I had brewed and ingredients I had lying around when I formulated the original recipe for Curly's Milk Stout.

I could not have been happier with how that first batch came out. It was only a matter of time until I brewed a full five gallon batch. To brew a full batch and brew it at home required a few adjustments to the recipe. I brewed a partial mash, adding 3.15 pounds of liquid malt extract and one pound of dry malt extract at the end of the boil. The hops were Northern Brewer and Fuggles. I added the Northern Brewer at 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes left in the boil to reduce the hop flavor slightly. I also used the Burton Ale WLP023 yeast I used in the Hot Stove Porter instead of London Ale III 1318 because that is what I had on hand. I also added carbonates to the water to bring out more of the roasted character putting what I have learned about brewing water to use. I still have one bottle of the original version to compare with this version when it is done.

People ask what my favorite beer is. It is a question I struggle to answer. There is something to be said for having a flagship beer. After two years I still do not have one. If the five gallon batch comes out at least as good as the original this beer can at least be one of my flagship beers. A beer that I will make year-round and always have on hand. Once my bottles get low I can brew some more. Someday when my kegs are set up I can keep this on draught at all times too.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_0644.JPG The beer looks gorgeous already.[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_0643.JPG Starting gravity is on point. It was a very smooth brew day.[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="345"]IMG_0634.JPG I adjusted the rollers in my grain mill. At first the crush was too fine, but after adjusting again it was perfect.[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_0637.JPG I had to "sparge" the grain bag by soaking it twice in sparge water to have enough pre-boil wort.[/caption]

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