Category Archives: Stout / Porter

Nitro Breakfast Stout

I finally got around to fixing my nitro tap, so I brewed a low-gravity stout and plan to add some coffee for a rich breakfast-y delicious beer!

  • 6.5 lb UK Pale malt
  • 1 lb flaked oats
  • 1 lb flaked barley
  • 0.8 lb roasted barley (UK)
  • 0.4 lb chocolate malt (UK)
  • 1.5 oz Kent Goldings (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Kent Goldings (9 min)
  • 1L Starter WLP Irish Ale

// Mash-in at 152F w/ 4 gal water. 1 tsp CaCl2 to mash. First stuck sparge on the new system! Wasn’t able to recirculate the wort, so the temp probably dropped way down. Sparged to get 6.6 gallons 1040 wort. Boil 60 minutes, collected around 5.5 gallons of 1042 wort. Chill, oxygenate 60s w/ regulator on low, pitch whole starter. Brewed 3/18/17. //

3/20/17  Airlock activity slowed, gravity at 1011. Somewhat thin, but decent roast flavor. Bitterness is a little aggressive. Added 1.25 oz course ground Columbian coffee (Giant brand) loose to carboy, set it fridge to crash cool.

3/21/17  Racked to keg. Coffee flavor is ok but somewhat burnt. Probably should have stuck with the Ethiopian. Bitterness has smoothed over. Still fairly watery, but I’m imagining this will feel great on nitro. Set pressure at 15psi, will leave there for one day before switch to beer gas.

4/2/17  Bitterness and body is appropriate (nitro always helps!), but tastes a little burnt in terms of malt flavors. Tasting notes soon.


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Filed under Balanced, Nitro, Stout / Porter

Imperial Bourbon Coffee Stout

This will be the biggest beer I’ve ever made (all-grain at least), and the malt bill definitely shows it for a 5 gallon batch. The recipe is based off a widely available clone of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS for short), which is one of my favorite “big” beers; generally I’m not a huge fan of harsh high ABV beers but this one is extremely robust, complex, and most importantly, smooth.

  • 18.5 lb us 2-row
  • 2 lb flaked oats
  • 0.75 lb chocolate malt
  • 0.75 lb roasted barley
  • 0.5 lb debittered black malt
  • 0.5 UK Dark Crystal
  • 2 oz Nugget (60 min)
  • 1 oz Willamette (25 min)
  • 1 oz Willamette (10 min)
  • 2 L starter WLP001

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/gal at 154 for 40 minutes, raise to 168F and sparge w/3.5 gal hot water to collect 9.5 gal 1054 wort. Boil 120 minutes. Let sit for 30 minutes, collected around 5.5 gallons OG 1085. Oxygenated for a few minutes until nice hefty froth on top of wort. Pitched whole starter. Brewed 7/1/16. //

7/18/16:  Fermentation blew off a few times, but not aggressively. Fermented at around 62F. Gravity at 1024. Nose is excellent, balances hops and malt, a little boozy but overall clean. Flavor follows, surprisingly smooth for just two weeks. This is gonna be good to go sooner than I expected! Started soaking 1oz American oak in 0.5 oz Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon.

8/1/16:  Oak flavor is a little strong and harsh. Going to give this a few more weeks to mellow.

8/26/16:  Tasting much better – smooth and rich, nice vanilla and bourbon flavor. It would be OK to go ahead and keg, but I went ahead and added 1 oz Sumatra coffee in a hop sack to the secondary. This is half of what the recipe called for, since I really didn’t want to overwhelm the existing flavors, just provide a little accent.

8/27/16:  Coffee addition is awesome. Kegged. Tasting notes soon.

2/21/16:  Despite how long this stayed on tap (it was a sipper! probably didn’t pour anything more than 8oz at a time) I never got around to a full review. This beer was awesome, though. Tons of flavor without being to sweet. I really wouldn’t change much, but if the ABV was higher I can see it have a complimentary warmth to it – the 8.5%-ish was passable but it could afford to go bigger.


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Filed under All-grain, Coffee, Malty, Stout / Porter, Strong

Dark Stout w/ Ethiopian Coffee


Craving another coffee stout!

  • 4.5 lb Marris Otter
  • 1 lb Flaked barley
  • 0.6 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.3 lb Crystal 40
  • 0.2 lb Black malt
  • 0.5 oz Galena 60 min
  • Wyeast California Lager

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 152 for 50 min. Sparge to collect 3.5 gal wort. Boil 60 min. Chill to 120 w/ ice. Let sit for 4 hours. Collect around 3.5 gal 1052 wort. Oxygenate 60s pure O2. Pitch 1L starter. Brewed 12/11/15. //

// Water: 1 tsp chalk, 1/4 each gypsum and CaCl2 //

Slow start to fermentation – took about 24 hours before showing any signs. I used this California Lager strain because I’d bought it for a batch like 2 months ago and it never got used. I figured for a coffee stout the yeast shouldn’t matter that much anyway. I fermented it at 65 because this strain apparently works well at higher temps. After about 2 weeks the gravity finally settled around 1016.

1.4 oz Ethiopian Coffee grounds in the primary for 24 hrs while crash cooling.


The Ethiopian grounds imparted a milder yet still very expressive coffee flavor. It didn’t overpower the base beer, which I found was more the case with the French Roast stout I did a few months ago (it was still really good, as long as you like strong dark coffee). I also slightly decreased the amount of coffee, which no doubt dialed it back a bit. I found the flavor of this coffee to be more chocolate and earthy compared to the more burnt, smoky flavors of the French roast. A lot of coffee drinkers who tried this beer seemed to connect with it more than the French roast, comparing it to a standard morning/breakfast coffee roast. Overall this was a really tasty beer, but next time I’ll probably use a standard American, English, or Irish ale yeast.


Filed under All-grain, Coffee, Malty, Stout / Porter

Dark Gratzer – Fall Session Smoked Ale

The new 2015 BJCP style guidelines have been released and there are a lot of changes. IPAs have been broken out into lots of IPA subcategories (rye, white, black, etc.), wild/sour ales have their own categories, and, among lots of other changes, there’s a historic styles category that features several styles that I’ve never heard of. One of them is called Grodzitski, which is described as being a light, session ale that uses oak-smoked malts and is also fairly hoppy. The description sounded awesome, so I sought out to just wing it and try to make something similar even though I’ve never tasted it. The style guidelines describe it as a very lightly colored beer, but I decided to darken it up a bit thinking that would accommodate the smoke malts.

  • 5 lb US 2-row
  • 2 lb Cherrywood smoked malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb Roasted Barley
  • 0.5 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lb Victory malt
  • 0.5 oz Challenger hops (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Challenger hops (10 min)
  • WLP001 (new packaging)

// Mash 154 at 1.5 qt/lb for 50 min, raise to 168. Sparge to collect around 3 gallons. Boil 60 minutes. Chill to 100F with ice, added about 3/4 gal of filtered tap water to bring up to around 4 gallons at 85F. 60s pure O2, pitched yeast directly from package. Brewed 9/13/15. //

// Water: 1/4 tsp gypsum, 1/2 tsp CaCl2, 1/2 tsp chalk to mash.  90 ppm Calcium, 42 ppm sulphate, 62 ppm chloride. //

9/20/15  Airlock activity subsided – gravity at 1014. Nice smoky aroma and flavor with some chocolate malt coming through the most. Hops are a little much and are a little distracting in the finish. Moved to the fridge to crash cool for a few days before kegging.


This was an interesting experiment in creating a recipe purely based on a textual description. The beer was decent; very drinkable, but overall a little bit muddy in terms of the malt flavors. The smoke character is evident with the chocolate malt coming through in the finish, but the other malts don’t seem to play an important role. This would be better off with just the 2-row, the smoked malt, and a touch of a roasted malt for color and complexity. The hops’ aggressiveness faded over time and created a nice balance to what would have been an otherwise overly malty beer. Nice head retention (likely from the hops) with a decent amount of body for the low ABV.



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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Brown, Small Batch, Smoked, Stout / Porter

Nitro Irish Stout

IMG_0030I threw together this recipe sometime in early October 2015 and never really documented it; unfortunately it, like a few other beers, got lost in the mix amongst wedding beers and sour experiments. Here’s a quick recap and some tasting notes. 4 gallon batch, which was around 1040 OG.

  • 4.5 lb English Pale
  • 1 lb Flaked barley
  • 0.7 oz roasted barley (Briess)
  • 0.2 oz chocolate malt (muntons)
  • 0.2 oz crystal 40
  • 0.6 oz cascade 60 min
  • 0.3 oz cascade 45 min
  • WYeast Irish Ale


Overall I was extremely happy with this fairly close rendition of a Guinness.  It was easy to make, quick to ferment, and a really sessionable beer to have a pint of just about whenever. The nitro tap really works wonders for bringing out the smooth creamy body. The roast flavor was appropriate for a dry Irish stout – certainly not a coffee-forward aroma or flavor, but it got the point across. I would have liked a little more chocolate and burnt character to come through so I might try a different brand of roasted barley next time and/or up the chocolate malt at bit. The visual cascading nitro effect was there (see below), but more so when I used a thinner pilsner glass, less when I used a regular pint glass. Regardless, a really enjoyable beer that, in my opinion, tastes better than the 6-month-old Guinness keg that every bar has on tap 🙂



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Filed under All-grain, Malty, Nitro, Small Batch, Stout / Porter

First Batch Remake – Oatmeal Stout

IMG_1008Remembering beers I’ve made in the past is a weird thing. Naturally some batches stand out more than others, and some just get lost in the mix. It’s a lot to remember: flavors, aroma, color, general thoughts and impressions along with things that were happening in your life around that time that could have influenced your opinions towards it. Good note taking helps to conjure up memories, but even still it’s tough to retain a clear image. I have [probably very biased] fond memories of my earliest batches, but I wonder how it would stand up to my tastes today. I made a 3 gallon rendition of my first oatmeal stout that I really enjoyed back then and wanted to re-experience.

  • 6 lb English Pale malt
  • 0.8 lb Flaked Oats
  • 0.5 lb Crystal 80L
  • 0.5 lb Victory malt
  • 0.33 lb Roasted barley
  • 0.25 lb Chocolate malt
  • 0.75 oz Cascade 60 min
  • 0.25 oz Cascade 5 min
  • WY London ESB 1986

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb (~3gal) to hit 154 for 60 minutes. Raise to 168, pseudo-sparge with about 3/4 gal of 170 water by pouring through the raised grain bag over the pot.  Collected around 3 gallons of wort total. Boil 60 minutes. Added  ice to get it down to 120, moved the fridge. Pitched at 80. OG 1074. Brewed 7/18/15. //

// Water:  1/2 tsp gypsum and CaCl2, 3/4 tsp chalk to the mash. No addition to sparge water //

Beer fermented out fairly quickly (within 3 days or so, but I wound up kegging it after 1 week). FG was 1.022.


Well, this beer was nothing like I remember it. For one, I overshot my OG by way too much (about 0.02) so it was a much bigger beer than the original. Rather than live in the past and reminisce about the older beer as I remember it (feel free to reference that post here), let’s focus on the positive takeaways from this batch and a few lessons learned.

First, I’m not that great at making strong beers. This beer was a little boozy; very drinkable, but after 1 pint I wasn’t feeling it much anymore.  The English yeast does provide that warm, malty sensation but the sheer mass of how big this beer is kind of masks it, and makes me wish this was more of a session cask ale or just standard gravity ale. I also don’t drink strong beers that much, so I’m naturally biased more towards lower gravity beers that I can sip on and not feel like I’m putting in work to finish. Regardless, there are some things that I need to learn (likely with regards to yeast / fermentation) for making stronger, maltier beers taste smooth and savory.

Second, as a general comment, just because you use the same ingredients in a beer made prior doesn’t mean that it will taste the same when made a few years later. So much has changed about my brewing setup and process that flavors changed significantly. It’s a good thing in the end, because I’m confident in the choices I’ve made to upgrade various parts. But if I were going to try and remake (at least from my taste memory) my first batch again, I would just scrap the old recipe and start from scratch, focusing more on the bigger picture rather than just copy and pasting the old one.


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Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Brown, English, Small Batch, Stout / Porter

Coffee Stout (w/ French Roast grounds)

IMG_0933Another small batch! This one used French roast grounds in the primary to add an extra layer of coffee flavor beyond the more common flavors contributed by roasted grains in stouts.  3 gallons.

  • 5.2 lb Marris Otter (Muntons)
  • 1.2 lb Flaked Oats (Breiss)
  • 0.67 lb Chocolate malt (Breiss)
  • 0.5 lb Roasted barley (Breiss)
  • 0.33 lb Caramunich I (Weyermann)
  • 0.25 lb Crystal 90L (Breiss)
  • 0.3 oz Galena hops (45 min)
  • WY American Ale

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb to hit 152F for 50 min, 170F for 2 min. Sparge w/ about a gallon to extract a little more wort, probably around 2.5 gal or so. Boil 45 min. Add ice to get just under 3 gallons of 1062 wort, chill to 110F, transferred to plastic carboy and put in the fridge for 3 hours to get down to around 84F. Oxygenate for 60s w/ pure O2, pitch yeast straight from pack. Brewed 5/26/15 //

5/31/15  Fermented at around 65F, gravity at 1022, no airlock activity. Big chocolatey roast aroma. Lots of flavor, but with a little harsh finish that is contains a lot of coffee flavor already, but it may be from the hops . Moved it upstairs to 75F and gave the carboy a good shake.

6/2/15  Moved to the fridge at 32F. Gravity still at 1022/1021.

6/3/15 Added 1.6 oz French Roast coffee grounds (organic, Giant brand) in a mesh bag to the primary while in the fridge. Sloshed it around a bit to get the bag mixed in.

6/5/15  Removed the coffee and transferred to a keg. The coffee flavor and aroma is incredible. Can’t wait for this to be ready on tap.


I loved having this beer on tap. The amount of coffee flavor was, in my opinion, just the right amount; prominent but not overboard.  If you like black coffee, you would like this. French Roast is definitely a bold coffee to begin with, so it put itself out in front easily. Even some smoky notes, too. I can imagine going with a lighter roast would work well too, but not sure what type. This beer felt like a treat when most of my taps were occupied with light and crisp summer beers. It even tastes nice splashed in with the lighter beers to give them a little toasted note and add complexity. Goes great with dessert, too!

UPDATE (9/25/15): This beer took 1st prize in the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair Homebrew Contest in the Spice, Herb, and Vegetable beer category! The comments from the judges were positive (it scored a 36 average), but overall stated that the coffee flavor was a little too intense and covered up the base beer a bit. I can agree with that assessment, but the goal was the make a coffee-forward beer anyway.

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Filed under All-grain, Competition, Experimental, Malty, Small Batch, Stout / Porter