Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews, Specialty, Stout | No Comments »
Ah, fall in Portland. The season for darker, interesting, and wacky beers. Bring on the stouts, the bourbon-barrel releases, and the winter warmers!
Roots Brewing has released a chocolate habañero stout; a stout brewed with chocolate malt, chocolate wheat & five pounds of coco nibs in the mash, boiled for two hours during six pounds of organic free trade semi sweet chocolate syrup made by Alma Chocolate is added. After fermentation they dry hopped with 100 chopped habañeros. For those of you not in Portland, Alma Chocolate is a local chocolatier that makes fantastic, interesting, fancy chocolates.
On first pouring, this beer has a chili pepper aroma along with dark malt notes — just as you might expect — and a medium head that dissipates fairly quickly. This isn’t an oily Guinness, it’s more in the vein of a dry Irish stout. It is completely black, not even a hint of wan Portland afternoon light gets through this pint.
As it warms, the flavors definitely improve. On my first taste, this stout was dry, not very chocolatey, and I couldn’t taste the habañeros at all. Now that it’s been warming for a little bit, there’s a definite spiciness up front and in the finish. Swishing it around in my mouth makes my gums tingle with spice – both weird and interesting in a beer. If you’re expecting this to be a sweet chocolate stout like Young’s Double Chocolate stout, you’ll be disappointed. This has more of a cocoa nib chocolate character rather than a bittersweet chocolate flavor. The sweetness is more apparent after 30 minutes of warming, so come in for a pint and relax a while to let the flavors come out.
The spice level definitely grows over time, more of a nice slow burn that lingers than a sharp up-front heat. I can also taste the chilies in the finish, which give a slightly toasted note to the flavor.
All in all, this ended up being a pretty interesting stout. I’m not sure the habañeros were necessary, though the warm tingle on the back of my tongue is nice on a blustery Portland day. I almost want the chocolate to be more prominent or sweeter since it’s muted by the black malt of the stout and the chili flavors. However, this had the potential to be a really weird beer, and instead it was a tasty and interesting beer.
Keep up the experimentation, Roots!
Posted: November 22nd, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Cider, Homebrew, Stout | 2 Comments »
The Wonderful World of Apples
I was in luck this morning – the Braeburn cider people were there! Pre-fermentation, the Braeburn cider is crisp and tart and delicious to drink. This will be my first single-variety cider, as all previous batches were from a hodge podge of apple varieties. It’ll be interesting to see what the difference is between this cider and the one I’ve got conditioning in bottles right now. I’ve also made this one sulfite-free, and used local honey and cider yeast. I expect that it’ll be semi-dry and very appley.
And since I’m making cider, that means I have to drink some of last fall’s cider. This was made with previously frozen gallons of unpasteurized local apple cider, campden tablets, and cider yeast. Initially, it was very sweet. Then it became unbelievably carbonated and gushed out of the bottle. Now that it’s a year old, the carbonation has calmed down and the sweetness has reduced. It’s more of a semi-dry cider now.
Irish Stout with a local twist
Each year, I make a batch of Irish Stout for my friend’s St. Patrick’s Day party, which means I barely get any of the stout myself because all the party people drink it up. So I got wise and I’m making myself an early batch. I’m using the Toad Spit Stout recipe like last time, but I’m using Chinook and Willammette hops. I’ve also replaced the crystal malt with a rye crystal malt, and added organic roasted barley.
The best part is that I think I just unearthed a bottle of last year’s stout, so I’ll be able to compare the differences!
Posted: February 23rd, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Stout | No Comments »
What a lovely milk replacement an Irish Stout can be.
After four weeks of gluten-free and beer-free living, it’s time to try a beer and see how my body fares. Which beer to start with? The Toad Spit Stout, of course! Do you even know how it has pained me to have new homebrew in my basement that I haven’t even tried yet? Ugh.
The color of the stout is unsurprisingly dark. Black, like my soul. Like, 100 on the Lovibond scale. Opaque, but not cloudy. Not much head on pouring, though a nice light tan foam does present itself eventually. It’s finely carbonated, just enough to tickle the tongue. The aroma is of coffee, chocolate, rich malts.
On first taste, I notice a definite cocoa flavor, smooth espresso tones, and a light tang of bitterness from the hops (I used 100% Willamette hops from my own back yard on this one). Then comes some dryness, like that of unsweetened cocoa, coating the mouth just like in a proper dry Irish stout. It has a nice roasted malt finish, with a bit of sweetness and a hint of tartness.
I have to say that this beer turned out really well. While I don’t know the final gravity, and thus the percentage of alcohol, it feels like it’s probably in the 5-7% range (I can feel a mild buzz even though I’ve had something to snack on recently). Kathy says it’s smooth enough that the coffee tones don’t bother her, and that’s saying a lot! I really enjoy the chocolate flavors, myself. I could easily see drinking this beer all night long, if I could.
I’d definitely make this recipe again! It was pretty easy, the materials weren’t too spendy, and the result is delicious! Of course, that could be a month of cider, wine, and gluten-free beer talking… But I doubt it!
Tomorrow, I get to see how this beer treated me. I’m hoping for no arthritis flare-ups…
Posted: February 1st, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Bottling Beer, Homebrew, Stout | 1 Comment »
Red Baron Cappers rock!
Megan and I bottled the Irish Stout last night after it fermented for 10 days. Now it will spend at least two weeks conditioning and carbonating the bottle before it’s ready to drink… which, of course, I won’t be doing! But it sure smelled good last night, quite caramely and chocolatey. Kathy reports that it has a coffee note to it and I hope that doesn’t disappear with conditioning.
Rather than buy new bottles, I save all the bottles from beer and cider that I drink and use those for bottling. You can’t use screw-top bottles, so I tend to avoid buying beers from breweries that use that kind of bottle. It’s super easy to clean bottles in the dishwasher, which saves time and a lot of annoying knee pain as you kneel over the bathtub full of bottles trying to clean and sanitize them. The dishwasher takes care of cleaning and sanitizing, plus it loosens or removes most of the labels. I can fit around 60 bottles into the bottom rack of my dishwasher, which is plenty for 5 gallons of beer.
Bottling beer is pretty simple. I transfer the beer from the carboy to a plastic bottling bucket. It’s a big 8 gallon bucket with a spigot at the bottom that makes it really easy to pour beer right into individual bottles. Some folks siphon beer directly into bottles using a plastic tube, and I feel very sorry for them. Once upon a time, I had to siphon beer from the fermenter to the bottling bucket using a length of food-grade tubing which always lead to mess and misery.
Then I found the magical wine thief! What a time saver. Just prime it a couple of times and it sucks the beer from the fermenter to the bucket with ease! Plus it means I get a lot more beer and far less sediment in the bucket. Usually, a wine thief is just an outer plastic column with a rubber gasket attached to a pipette on the inside, so you pull on the pipette to get a vacuum going and suck up some of the fluid. I’ve attached a food-grade tube to my pipette so I can just prime the tube and let the beer run freely to the bottling bucket.
Capping the bottles is really easy. I use a Red Baron capper, which has a handy magnet that helps keep the cap in place while you depress the handles and secure the cap. I like to choose interesting caps so I can tell the beers apart.
And that’s pretty much it for bottling beer!
Posted: January 28th, 2008 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew, Stout | 2 Comments »
Irish Stout at 5 hours
The other beer Megan and I started a week ago was an Irish Stout, also from the Complete Joy of Homebrewing (hey, it makes it easier to shop when all the recipes are in the same book!). Since I always forget to make a stout for St. Patrick’s Day until about a month before my friend Mooney’s party, I thought I’d get a jump on things this year. The good news is that Irish Stouts are pretty speedy beers, often ready to drink 3-4 weeks after the initial brewing.
I chose this one because it called for some specialty grains, and since I was showing Megan about different types of beer, this made a good example of steeping grains to add to malt extract syrup. The key to steeping is to keep the temperature consistent, which is hard to do on a standard range where you have either 1-10 as your heat settings or lo-hi. Fortunately, Kathy got an instant-read thermometer from my brother and his fiancee for Christmas! If you don’t have one of these, get one as soon as you can. Not only are they great for checking the temperature on your lamb roast, but they’re awesome for keeping the temperature consistent for brewing.
I knew it might be asking for trouble to brew this in my 3 gallon pot, but since we were making the Grand Cru in the 5 gallon pot, I didn’t really have a choice. All was going well, the crystal, patent, and roasted barley had all steeped just fine, and I had a nice boil going with the hops (Nugget had to replace Northern Brewer). Sounds like a perfect time to go clean out the ol’ carboy and sanitize it, right?
The Irish Stout begins to ferment for real.
Ugh. I should have known better. This always
happens when I go deal with the carboy. I’m at the other end of the house with running water, so I can’t hear what’s going on in the kitchen. A bell went off in my mind and I had Megan check on the stout just in time for her to see it boiling over and making a hoppy mess all over the stove top. But she saved the day and got the hops back in the pot and kept and eye on the boiling mess. I’ve done this enough times to a) know better, and b) know that it won’t ruin my beer. Have I mentioned that I love my 5 gallon pot? I don’t think I’ll make two beers at the exact same time again…
I was excited that I got to use some Willamette hops from my own back yard for the finishing hops. It’s amazing how much hops one plant can produce! And I discovered that the strange baggie of white powder in with my brewing supplies was indeed gypsum, which is good because I’d forgotten to buy any. With the boil completed and the carboy ready to go, we sparged and poured the brew into the carboy. Wow is that a black, black brew.
After a week, the stout has gone from fermenting vigorously to bubbling lightly. I think it’ll be ready to bottle in a couple of days, as soon as a little more sign of fermentation has gone. As I mentioned in the Grand Cru post, I don’t use a hydrometer. My method is to watch the frequency with which the fermentation lock bubbles. Usually, a beer is done fermenting when the lock bubbles up once every minute or so. Leave it too long and you’ll have a flat beer (unless you keg it).
Maybe I’ll take photos of the bottling process…