Friday, September 4, 2015

Screwy's Hazy Daze Dry Irish Stout

As the Fall season approaches here in the Northeastern United States it brings with it the shorter days and cooler temperatures that signal the end of summer. In a few weeks the leaves of the deciduous trees in my neighborhood will start to change color. The same green leaves that provided cooling shade throughout the hot summer months will soon change their colors to yellow, orange, red and gold as they prepare to fall to the ground.

When I Think Of The Fall Season I Begin To Think Stout
The Fall months are also the time of year when I look forward to spending more enjoyable days and nights in the brew room. Cooler air temperatures easily offset the heat and humidity produced by kettle boil vapors and cooler tap water temperatures help to chill boiling wort down more efficiently too. It's the perfect time of year for brewing beer and building up a pipeline for the long winter months that lie ahead.

With the coming of the fall season and its cooler more comfortable brewing weather also comes a change in the styles of beer to brew. In my mind there's few things more enjoyable than the combination of crisp cool fall air and the delicious fragrance produced by a batch of stout boiling in the kettle. As the signature aromas of the Dry Irish Stout develop in the wort the air inside the brew room grows thick with the deep rich smell of roasted coffee signalling the start of the fall brewing season.

Screwy's Hazy Daze Dry Irish Stout

A Little Bit About Stout

The word 'Stout' has reportedly been part of the beer vocabulary for over a thousand years. By some accounts it was first used in reference to the traditional unhopped Celtic ales of Ireland. It was also used in reference to the higher alcohol content Porter ales of London which had become very popular in England in the 1730's, with the higher alcohol versions of the style referred to as Stout Porters. In both counties however it was the thirsty pub patrons ordering those dark, roasty, high alcohol ales as 'Extra Porter Stout' or 'Extra Superior Porter' who eventually shortened the names down to 'Extra Stout' and then ultimately down to just 'Stout'.  

Over time the meaning of the word stout was revised many times taking on several meanings and interpretations. In the world of beer today the word stout refers to a dark roasty flavored ale. The stout beer style includes related sub styles like 'Dry Stout', 'Sweet Stout', 'Oatmeal Stout', 'American Stout', Foreign Stout' or 'Russian Imperial Stout' that continue to grow in popularity. Just about every brewery or brewpub has at least one stout on tap and to make things more interesting some brewers have even created light colored stouts.

As I talk beer with people today some still refer to a stout as being a heavy beer as opposed to being a lighter beer. In some instances they were put off by the dark color of a stout more than mouth feel or alcohol content. Their reason for preferring a lighter beer over drinking a stout must of had more to do with the coffee like flavor of dark roasted Barley more than anything else. When I pointed out that a glass of Guinness Stout had only 15 more calories in it than a glass of Bud Light they were really equally surprised. 

I Love The Smell Of Dry Stout Brewing In The Morning

About The Stout Recipe

My personal favorite style of stout to brew and drink is the classic Dry Irish Stout. To me no other style of beer smells quite as warm and inviting on brew day as it boils in the kettle. My time tested recipe for brewing the Hazy Daze Stout has evolved over the years to use a mixture of just three grains. Seventy percent Pale Malt, twenty percent Flaked Barley and ten percent Roasted Barley are all the grains that are required. At just under 5% alcohol by volume this recipe produces a very drinkable stout that I've enjoyed by itself or as a dessert with the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  

Mashout Complete Just Prior To Lifting Grains And Sparging

The UK Kent Golding hops I use in my Hazy Daze Stout recipe are used for bittering only and they are boiled for no less than thirty minutes. The aroma and flavor of this classic stout style comes primarily from the dark roasted malts and not from the yeast or hops. For fermenting this stout I like using White Labs WLP004 - Irish Ale Yeast™ at a rate of 200 billion cells per 5 gallons of finished beer. For my ten gallon batches I make a four liter yeast starter using two vials of WLP-004 and a stir plate. Of course as with fermenting any beer maintaining strict temperature control throughout the fermentation will provide the best results.

About The Brewing Water

Not all brewing water is created equal, that's why I installed a reverse osmosis filter in the brew room. Not having the patience to understand the chemical makeup of my local tap water I took the somewhat easier way out. The water output of my RO filter is consistent year round making the amount of salt and minerals needed to adjust my brewing water much simpler. The pH of the RO water is also consistent and can be easily adjusted downward using 88% Lactic Acid or upward with Baking Soda if needed.

After Mashing Collect Pre-boil Volume In Kettle 

To prepare the brewing water the night before brew day I fill a 15 gallon container with RO water and then add to that my brewing salts and minerals as listed below. I also add in the Lactic Acid and then stir them in for a few minutes. After waiting 20 minutes for the water to begin to stabilize I carefully calibrate my digital pH meter and take the first reading. When trying out a new brewing water profile for the first time it may take several adjustments to get the pH fine tuned. But once everything looks good I save the water recipe for future use.

The dark roasted barley used in a stout recipe will add a lot of acid to the mash which will push the mash pH reading downward. The ideal pH range I try to stay within for mashing and sparging is between 5.4 and 5.6 when measured at room temperature. In addition to adjusting the pH of the brewing water salts and minerals are added to flavor it and increase the water's buffering capacity to resist changes in pH. Traditional stout brewing water is very alkaline that is to say it is high in bicarbonates and very resistant to changes in pH. Using RO or distilled water and ingredients that are readily available at any LHBS allows you to modify your brewing water to closely replicate the traditional stout brewing water profile quite easily.    

Hazy Daze Stout Water Profile 15.0 Gallons
07.00 g - Gypsum (calcium sulfate)
18.00 g - Calcium Chloride
03.00 g - Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate)
02.00 g - Baking Soda
02.00 ml - Lactic Acid 88%

pH = 5.43 @ 75F (calculated) 
Chloride/Sulfate ratio = 1.71
Residual Alkalinity = 105
114 ppm - calcium
005 ppm - magnesium
010 ppm - sodium
153 ppm - chloride
089 ppm - sulfate

Bittering Unit To Gravity Unit Ratio

When trying to determine the perceived bitterness level of a batch of beer it's important to look not only at the International Bittering Unit, or IBU, value alone to get that information. In fact a recipe's IBU value has to be weighed against the recipe's original gravity units, or GU, to get the complete picture. The overall balance between bitterness and the sweetness of the malt in the recipe is a great indicator of perceived bitterness in the finished beer. The Dry Stout weighs in at the upper end of the BU:GU scale at a little bit under 0.90 with Wheat beer coming in at around 0.50 followed by Weissbier at 0.25.

The math involved in calculating the BU:GU value for any recipe is pretty simple although I still rely on a calculator to keep my answers honest. The bitterness value of the Hazy Daze Stout recipe is 41 IBU and is plugged directly into our calculation. The original gravity of the recipe is 1.047 and by multiplying it by 1000 we get the number 47, which we also plug into our calculation.

Estimated Wort Properties
  • IBU  = 41 
  •  OG  = 1.047
  • SRM = 26 
  •  FG   = 1.013
  • ABV = 4.6%
Now to calculate the BU:GU for the recipe we divide 41 by 47 and get .872 as our answer. Basically the higher the BU:GU number the more perceived bitterness the finished beer will have when drinking it.

BU:GU Ratio : 41 / 47 =  .872 (Ratio Of Popular Beer Styles)

The Grain Bill

One of the things I like best about drinking a lower alcohol stout is that they make for a nice session beer. You can really enjoy drinking several of them without worrying about having them knock you for a loop. Since I've been brewing using the brew in a bag (BIAB) method I order all of my malted grains double crushed because it has helped me to get better brewing efficiency. I also use a 90 minute mash with a 10 minute mash out before lifting the bag of grains out of the kettle and sparging them.

16.25 pounds Pale Ale (70% of grist)
04.50 pounds Flaked Barley (20% of grist)
02.25 pounds Roasted Barley (10% of grist)
23.00 pounds total grain bill

The Hop Bill

I bag my pellet hops before adding them to the kettle because it keeps a lot of the hop debris out of the wort. I don't ever want to clog up the counter-flow wort chiller with any of the sand like hop particles while cooling down the wort. The hops are added to the kettle as first wort hop (FWH) additions since I'm only interested in getting bitterness from them, any flavor and aroma should come from the roasted grains.

5.00 ounces Kent Goldings (U.K.) pellets
5.00 ounces Total Hop bill

The Yeast

Before pitching the liquid yeast used for this recipe I brew up a one gallon unhopped batch of 1.040 gravity beer to use in the yeast starter. After cooling the wort down to room temperature I pour the contents of two vials of room temperature liquid yeast into a four liter Erlenmeyer flask. Next I add the starter wort, drop in a stir bar and let it spin on a stir plate until the krausen rises and then falls in on itself. At that point I cover the flask opening and set it in the refrigerator for a few days to cold crash so the yeast can settle out to the bottom of the flask.

WLP004 - Irish Ale Yeast™ And 4 Liter Starter

Early on brew day morning I remove the flask and set it out on a counter top to warm up to room temperature. Once the wort has been cooled and the fermentor filled up I oxygenate the wort just prior to decanting the extra wort from the flask and pitching the yeast starter. As for yeast nutrient I do add that directly to the boil at about 10 minutes before flame out, it's a habit I got into years back irregardless of the gravity of the beer I'm brewing.

White Labs WLP004 - Irish Ale Yeast™
2 Vials in a 4 liters of 1.040 wort (starter made in flask on a stir plate)

Putting It All Together

I set my brew house efficiency at 70% when developing recipes and the beer brewed using eBIAB has consistently come in very close to the calculated numbers. The percentage of hop alpha acid will vary from batch to batch of UK Kent Golding or any type of hops for that matter. I make sure to adjust my brewing software accordingly by entering the alpha acid percentages listed for the current batch of hops I buy. The closer your brewing software is to matching the actual numbers of your brewing system and the ingredients used the better the chances are that your finished beer will come out as expected.

The first time I brewed using my brew in a bag system I wondered how much grain and brewing water would fit inside my kettle without causing it to overflow? Then I wondered how much wort would be left in the kettle after removing the grain bag? Before switching from a traditional three tier system to an eBIAB system these calculations had never been too much of a problem. Having a separate hot liquor tank, mash tun and brew kettle made calculating mash thickness and preboil volumes pretty straightforward.

With BIAB brewing all of the water and grain used in the mash goes into the kettle at the same time. During the mash grain is put inside a fine mesh bag so that sugars can be extracted into the wort without any of the grain getting into the kettle. At the end of the mash the grain and bag are then removed and the wort remaining in the kettle is brought to a boil. The trick to all of this is to prevent the kettle from overflowing with too much mash volume while being able to hit your preboil wort volume after the grain has been removed. 

11.75 gallons: Pre-boil Volume
10.00 gallons: Packaged Volume
Brew. Efficiency: 70%
Estimated Wort : IBU=41, OG=1.047, SRM=26, FG=1.012, ABV= 4.6%
BU:SG Ratio     :        41      /       47 = .872 Range: 0.25 (sweet) to 1.0 (bitter)

Mash at 152° F for 90 minutes
Mashout at at 168° F for 10 minutes
Sparge at 168° F until 11.75 gallons of wort has collected in the kettle

Summing It All Up

For the fermentation I fill up two 6.5 gallon fermentors, each with 5.25 gallons of wort, and after pitching the yeast and oxygenating place both of them into a temperature controlled chest freezer used as a fermentation chamber. I use a BrewsBySmith Fermentation Kit to closely monitor and control the fermenting beer temperature right through to the end of primary fermentation.

I like fermenting my Ales on the low side and for my stout I initially set the fermentation temperature to 66F and hold it there before raising the temperature one degree a day after the first three days of fermentation. After the temperature of the wort has been raised to 70F its then held there for one week before cold crashing the fermented beer to 36F for another week.

Treat Yourself, Your Friends And Family To A Classic Stout This Year

Once the beer has been cold crashed for a week its ready to transfer to a set of corny kegs placed in the refrigerator and forced carbonated with Co2 set to 15 psi for a week. I just set and forget the Co2 because I found it gives the most consistent carbonation results and I'm just too lazy to be rolling my kegs around on the ground trying to get the beer carbonated a day or two sooner.

After a week of force carbonation the beer is ready to serve or package in 12 or 22 ounce bottles if needed. For filling bottles or mini-kegs I use the Blichmann BeerGun™ to do the job because it allows my to get clearer beer with more consistent carbonation in the smaller packaging sizes than when using priming sugar for carbonation and more quickly to. Well that about wraps it up cooler weather, a brewroom filled with delicious coffee-like aromas on brewday and a rich warming session beer that's pretty hard to beat. Do yourself a favor this Fall brewing season and brew up a batch of stout and be the envy of all your friends.

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