Showing posts with label milk stout. Show all posts
Showing posts with label milk stout. Show all posts

Friday, November 2, 2018

Old Friends: Left Hand Milk Stout

Back in October 2012 I was laid off by the company I worked for at the time. It was 10 o'clock in the morning when I got the news that it was happening, about 30 of us were laid off that day, and so I did what any sensible person does on such an occasion, I went to the pub. OK, maybe that's a British response, but by 11am I was on pint number 3 or 4. Said pints were all Left Hand's majestic Milk Stout, one of the few beers for which I will give up my animus against nitro. In a pleasing piece of circularity, I believe the nitro version is on tap at the same pub at the moment.

Anyway, this is not about the nitro version, this is about the non-nitro version that I picked up in the store last weekend, I guess at some point I should do a side by side comparison as I believe Left Hand also do a bottled version of the nitro. Before launching in to the tasting itself, look at this from the label:


I was thrilled to see a suggested serving temperature on the label, and while I won't be buying a 'stout glass' any time soon, my pint pot being more than adequate, I am glad that Left Hand encourage drinkers to take the temperature of their beer seriously. As I mentioned in a recent post I have taken to keeping my darker ales in the wine cooler, which is set at 54°F (12°C), so this was perfect as it poured....


Beautiful, perhaps I am odd finding beauty in an inky jet black liquid, but I found this absolutely entrancing in the glass. That thinnish half inch of mocha head clunk around doggedly. From that thing of beauty came a gentle roast aroma, a toffeeish thing that reminded me of dulce de leche, or creme caramel, all backed up by a lovely spicy hop note. In terms of flavours, lots of smooth chocolate and coffee (think Gervalia brand) going on, lovely stuff. Add to the mix some toast and biscuits with a really clean hop bitterness and you have a veritable smorgasbord of happiness to deal with.


Beauty is a word that ran through this beer like words trough a stick of rock, beautiful to look at, beautiful aromas, tastes, and so beautifully balanced that even at 6% abv this is a beautiful beer to just drink and drink and drink. Even though I will happily drink the nitro version, this is much more in my wheelhouse, and that wheelhouse may just be seeing more of it this winter.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Of Worts and Boils

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent Friday brewing. It feels great to be back in the swing of it and having carboys fermenting away with much abandon in the cellar. I am still getting to grips with my new(ish) setup and equipment though and I have missed my target gravity in 2 out of the last three brews, the third being an extract beer, which is pretty easy to get within a few gravity points of the target.

For the first time in a while, I had an assistant brewer for the day, one of my colleagues from the Starr Hill tasting room who wanted to learn more about brewing. She also took the pictures in this post, as well as performing vital tasks like holding the grain bag while I tried not to give her third degree burns with the strike water. Having an assistant certainly made the process a lot easier and made me realise that when I return from my exile to the mythical land of 47% I really need to get my setup sorted in the garage, preferably with as much gravity involvement as possible.


The beer itself turned out to be an Export strength Oatmeal Milk Stout, rather than the Imperial Oatmeal Milk Stout I initially wanted to brew. However, with a starting gravity of 1.062 (15.2° Plato) and projected ABV of 6% it should have enough oomph to keep the darkness at bay during the winter.


As I said earlier, I have missed my target gravity on the last couple of brews I have done, a fact that I put down to a couple of things. Firstly I am now doing whole wort boils rather than diluting a smaller boil, and also I have a new 5 gallon cooler mash tun rather than the small 2.5 gallon affair I used previously. Part of me wonders if I am getting a good enough mix in my mash, so I plan to buy a new, longer handled spoon for stirring the mash to get an even blend of grain and water. Secondly, I think I am simply not sparging enough, and thus leaving a fair whack of sugar in the mash rather than in the wort.


On Friday I had about 4 gallons of wort for my 2.5 gallon batch and after a 90 minute boil, just barely had the required volume left, so maybe an extra gallon or so of wort and a 2 hour boil would make all the difference?

So, my fellow brewers, any thoughts and/or input as to how to get back to the world of 75% efficiency in my setup?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Once You Go Black

Thankfully in this part of Virginia, Hurricane Sandy was something of a damp squib, with damp being the operative word. It rained for the best part of 36 hours but the winds never really got much above strong breeze (that's force 6 to those of us used to the Beaufort scale). Either through design or luck we didn't lose our electricity (unlike many, it seems, our power lines are underground and not prone to trees falling on them). All in all, I am grateful to have been spared the brutality experienced further north, and I hope all my readers in that part of the world are OK.

On a whim last night Mrs Velkyal and I decided that it was about time we used our wood fire in anger, rather than just being a mildly diverting centrepiece to the main room upstairs. Having traipsed out to the shops, after discovering my car battery to be flat as I had left the headlamps on over the weekend, we lit our first fire using some compressed sawdust, nut shell and wax thing called a '2 Hour Fire Log'. With a fire burning in the hearth, I was overcome with an urge for something dark, a porter or stout perhaps, and just so happened to have this in the fridge:


I was introduced to this beer a few weeks ago by our fantastic next door neighbours, who have a small farm called , and it was love at first sip. At 8.8% this is something of a bruising stout, but I love it (say it quietly but Guinness FES may have some competition for my affections), great dollops of chocolate, as if some perverse Willy Wonka had blended Dairy Milk with 85% cocoa dark chocolate from Ecuador and a trace of roasted coffee to just take away any excessive sweetness. As much as I love this beer, and it will make fairly regular appearances in the cellar over the course of the winter, it is definitely not a 'drink ten pints and stumble home' affair, but one, sat next to the fire, reading a book? Perfect.


However, me being me, having let the last lascivious drops of Double Stout find their way down my throat, had the urge for another beer....what to bring up from the cellar...? How about this?


Yes, that would do the trick. Unlike the Double Stout, this is a beer I know well and love to break out when it is colder than an polar bear's bum. There is something about Old Engine Oil that is deeply entrancing, whether it is the deep darkness or the lingering dry roastiness of the beer or the fact that 6% you can justify a full pint and then drink it slowly and enjoy the beer as it warms, both literally and figuratively. The only regret I had was that the fire in the background was not in some fine drinking establishment, preferably with one of the autumn rugby matches on the tele...


I can't remember what actually was on the tele, not being a big watcher thereof, but eventually Mrs V and I adjourned to the downstairs living room of our house, turned on the oil radiator and I cracked open a Southern Tier 2X Stout, no pictures, no notes, just a lovely, strong milk stout.

Drink enough of these beers and my favourite line from White Chicks becomes gospel truth...



...because you'll be legless.

Friday, October 14, 2011

International Stout Day

If you know me, you know I love stout. Whether it is dry stout, extra, foreign extra, oatmeal, milk or imperial, I love them all. I am admittedly somewhat ambivalent about coffee infused, bourbon barrel aged and all the other shenanigans that seems to be de rigeur for beer in general these days. But offer me a pint of stout and I am a happy man.


At heart it is such a simple beer to brew, 90% pale malt, 10% roasted barley to get 1.048, 40 IBUs of hops, Goldings is a good one, yeast. Simple. Classic. Sure you can play with caramel malt, chocolate malt, black patent, Carafa and add extra layers of "complexity", but many a Friday afternoons are ended with a desire for a pint of stout.


To celebrate this most magnificent of beer styles some people got together and started International Stout Day, which is November 3rd.


As a committed lover of the black stuff, I will be dedicating ever post that week to stout. Brewing it, drinking it and all the associations that go with it.


Yes, sir, I am stout man.


I guess you know what I'll drinking tonight, assuming there is something good available.


Stout. Simple.

Monday, April 11, 2011

International Homebrew Project - The Tasting

Five weeks ago we brewed it, 3 weeks ago we bottled or kegged it, this weekend the day had arrived to taste it, and this morning I am blogging about it. "It", of course, is the International Homebrew Project brewing of a Milk Stout from Barclay Perkins, the recipe for which dates from 1933.

My first taste of the beer was on Saturday, while up in Fredericksburg brewing with James and Eric from A Homebrew Log and Relentless Thirst respectively, more about that project on Wednesday - suffice for the time being to say that we had a fantastic day and hopefully the result will be an excellent beer. Then yesterday I had the flat to myself for a little while, so took the opportunity to pop open a bottle in the peace and quiet and really get to grips with the beer.


First a note about the labels, they were originally meant to be black, but running low on the ink cartridge front, they came out brick red - which Mrs V actually think looks better than the black, and who am I to argue? So, to the beer, and as ever with my rare tasting note posts, my homage to Cyclops will be used.
  • Sight - very dark brown, ruby edges, persistent tan head
  • Smell - some chocolate, golden syrup, vine fruits, notably grape and blackcurrant, some spice and a touch of marijuana
  • Taste - bitter chocolate upfront, fruity aftertaste mostly blackcurrant, slight acidic tang
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
I was very surprised by the complexity of the beer, given the very low alcohol involved, only 3.7%. There were many layers of flavour, and the blackcurrant/grape thing was most unexpected. While the beer was medium bodied and had a silky finish, I had it in my mind that it would be smoother than it turned out, I also didn't expect it to be as clean and refreshing as it was. Over all I was happy with the beer.


So the International Homebrew Project comes to an end for this year, if there is enough interest from the people that took part then it'll be back in 2012.

Monday, March 7, 2011

International Homebrew Project - The Brewing

It's half past six on a Saturday morning and I have beer on my mind. No, I am not standing outside Masarykovo nádra?í having a breakfast pint to wash away the aftertaste of Fernet. I am in fact standing in my Charlottesville kitchen preparing for the 2011 International Homebrew Project brewday. In a small pan raw cane sugar is boiling away, with a dose of citric acid, to become invert syrup number 3.


The grains have been measured out as I ready myself for my first ever mash. Generally speaking I get most of my fermentables from light dry malt extract, adding colour and flavour with specialty grains, but today I want to start taking steps toward all grain brewing. Just a quick aside, I agree with the chap in Brew Your Own magazine who said that the reason people brew better beer when they go to all grain is less because of being all grain and more because of the added investment in better equipment.


In the mash is half a pound of Maris Otter, plus the necessary amber, brown and caramel malts, and of course the roasted barley. My mash tun is a steel can which was once chock full of coffee. A total of 2lbs of grain sit in a nylon bag as the necessary liquor is added. To keep the mash heat in, I put a sheet of foil over the top and popped the plastic lid over that. The can was then wrapped in Mrs Velkyal's Harrods oven gloves, and then put inside an insulated picnic hamper. Sure it's not elegant, but it got 76% efficiency, so I was happy.


After ninety minutes the mash was done, a bit of sparging later and I had a boil volume of 2 gallons (remember my batches are 2.5 gallons), the extract was added, along with the invert syrup and away we went on the mammoth 150 minute boil. Fuggles were added at the very beginning of the boil, with Goldings after an hour, and that was it for the hopping schedule, though with 15 minutes to go, I dumped in the lactose. Having started the boil with 2 gallons, I ended up with about half a gallon of boiled wort to chuck into the waiting ice cold water in the carboy. I do have a wort chiller, but I need to get a connector for the tap in my kitchen so I can use it. If we had a house with an outside tap things would be different, but we don't, so they are not.

One major benefit of brewing this way is that cooling the wort to pitching temperature takes about 15 minutes total. The yeast for this project was Danstar's dry Nottingham, and this time I was prepared. When I last used Nottingham the fermentation was insanely vigorous and within 24 hours I was scraping krausen from the ceiling. This time I would use a blow off tube from the beginning, my thinking confirmed by a tweet from James of A Homebrew Log saying that he was switching to a blow off because the fermentation was cracking along. Yeast duly pitched, it was just past midday. Mrs V had gone rowing and so I had the pleasure of brewing to Texas Greatest Hits and not feeling the need to skip the occasional track.


Less than an hour later I had the clear signs of krausen. I was delighted, I was nervous, I was glad I didn't have to prepare for an afternoon of ceiling cleaning duties. Fermentation has been vigorous and the krausen didn't approach the top of the carboy, so no need to worry on that front, yes I am sad enough to make a video of CO2 bubbling from the blow off tube.....


That was my brewing experience, a few firsts and although the OG fell a bit short, I am looking forward to a tasty, low alcohol beer, which of course will be reviewed here in about 5 weeks.

Friday, February 4, 2011

International Homebrew Project Recipe

So here it is, the recipe for the International Homebrew Project 2011. A quick recap, those that took part in the polls voted to brew a historical recreation of a milk stout, hopped with Challenger and Goldings. Therein lay one of our first hurdles, Challenger is a relatively modern hop, and so with the agreement of the majority of people who have told me they plan to brew for the project, we shifted to a combination of Fuggles and Goldings.

In thinking about the ingredients for the project, I have decided to push the brewing weekend back to the first weekend in March - so people can make arrangements for getting amber and brown malt, not to mention the invert #3 sugar. If you can't get amber and brown malt where you live, then here is a very useful article about making your own. On the making invert sugar syrup, as I plan to do, this post from Northern Brewer is useful. From my understanding, the #3 version was reasonably dark, so simmer it for about 90 minutes.

The recipe itself, kindly provided by Kristen England, is a recreation of a 1933 Barclay Perkins Milk Stout. So, as Ron would say, over to Kristen, though note I have changed his tables into bulleted lists, personal preference, that's all (and nothing to do with my shoddy HTML skills, honest guv).....

Milkstouts show up here and there throughout English beer history to the current day. There we never massively popular on a grand scale but always had their almost cult following. The most well-known is Mackesons XXX stout which currently has very little lactose in it. Most of the milk/sweet stouts are now made in happy, warm and tropical places. Jamaica, Trinidad, Malta, etc, etc. This ‘whopper’ of a stout is actually very low in gravity. It has pretty much every dark, toasty and delicious malt and sugar. Then you throw in two separate dose of lactose, one in the copper, one after for a grand total of about 22% lactose. The beer is very dark and roasty. The bitterness is quite high as these stouts weren't known to be exceedingly bitter. Lactards beware!
  • OG - 1.053
  • FG - 1.029
  • ABV - 4.4%
  • IBU - 39.1
  • SRM - 105
  • EBC - 207.8
  • Apparent Attenuation - 45.12%
  • Real Attenuation - 39.96%
The recipe is listed first in pounds, then kilograms and finally as a percentage, based on 5 US Gallons, or 19 litres.
  • Eng. 2 Row - 5.29/2.41/40.7
  • Amber malt - 1.04/0.48/10.6
  • Brown Malt - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Crystal 75 - 0.58/0.26/5.9
  • Invert # 3 - 0.5/0.23/5.1
  • Roasted Barley - 0.84/0.38/8.5
  • Lactose in boil - 1.26/0.57/12.8
  • Lactose priming - 1.04/0.47/10.6
For the extract brewers amongst us use 4lbs or 1.82kg for 5 US gallons or 19 litres respectively.

The mash is 90 minutes at 151°F or 66°C, with a water to grain ratio of 0.92qt/lb or 1.92l/kg.

Expect a long brewday for this, given that the boil is 2.5 hours. Talking about the boil, here's the hopping schedule, by ounces then grammes respectively.
  • Fuggle 5.5% @ 150mins 1.15/32.5
  • Goldings 4.5% @ 90mins 0.7/19.8
The yeast recommended for this recipe is Nottingham, or Wyeasts 1318 London Ale III.

Grist & such

The base malt for this beer is the toast mild malt. If you can’t get it, some Optic would be nice or even Maris otter. ***For the extract brewers out there the only real change is that you’ll use pale malt syrup instead and the poundage is listed and highlighted above. The amber and brown malt add a good dose of complexity and flavor but don’t dominate the palate like the 8.5% of roasted barley.

Hops

The hop additions for this beer are mostly for bittering. The neat thing about this beer is that milk stouts at a later time are much less bitter than this one. Nearly 40 bus is quite a bit! One addition at the start of the boil and then another addition an hour later. If you wanted to dry hop this beer you can do a simple combination of fuggles and goldings but I wouldn’t go higher than about 1g/L. Any more you really are going to have a striking hop nose.

Mash & Boil

The techniques used in this recipe are very straightforward. There was a simple multi-infusion mash where additions of hot liquor were added to keep the mash at the wanted temperature. You dough in a bit thick and then have a good sparge. This mash is very simple as there are a lot of things easy to extract out of here. The No3 invert sugar should definitely be added but can be substituted by using a mix of treacle and golden syrup. White sugar and blackstrap can be used in a pinch at about a 10:1 ratio. The lactose is the big boy here and there are two separate additions. The first one goes in during the boil and the second goes in at priming which we’ll cover later. Both invert #3 and the first lactose addition goes in at 30 minutes.

Fermentation, Conditioning & Serving

A simple fermentation at 68F (20C) will do good to ensure a nice and fruity beer that finishes well. This beer was meant to be bottle conditioned but you can serve it out of a keg. The second dose of lactose goes in with the priming sugars. NOTE – lactose is NOT the priming sugar. The lactose and priming sugars can be boiled in a little water together and added at once. Shoot for around 2.0 volumes of CO2 if you can. The more ‘fizzy’ the less mellow it will be. For serving, I suggest you keep this thing out of any sort of refrigeration. Cellar temp is ok but this really does best at room temperature or warmer.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Milk Stout takes on Challenger to take Gold(ings)

In the end, the votes were quite conclusive. This year's International Homebrew Project will be brewing:
  • milk stout
  • hopped with a combination of Challenger and Goldings
  • recipe inspired by a historical precedent
Surprisingly there was a late surge for brewing an Export India Porter, which admittedly I would have loved to have won, but we go with a simple majority. At this point I want to thank Kristen England of the BJCP, and Mr Recipe for Ron Pattinson's , for offering to supply me with an authentic recipe for the project. As soon as I have that recipe I will post it here.

Kristen's involvement came about because when Milk Stout took such a commanding lead in the poll, I was looking at the Mackeson recipes over at Ron's blog, and they all use invert sugar number 3, and I couldn't find much in the way of how long it took boiling the sugar with citric acid to create said version of invert sugar. As you can imagine, I am chuffed as chips to have Kristen's input and help on this project.

Just so I can get a rough estimate, if you are planning to brew for the project - drop me a quick
email with the subject line as "I'm In". Oh, and if any of you are graphic designers and would like to design a logo for the project, that would be awesome.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fuggled Review of the Year - Dark Beer

Whereas the Amber Beer of the Year presented me with the challenge of where to draw the line between amber and brown, the dark beer category presents me with a very different challenge. Simply put, this year has been excellent for dark beers, whether brown ales, milds, stouts or porters, even the occasional Black IPA (sic) hasn't been entirely awful. As such, this category will not only have the same "bests" as the previous categories, but will also have several honourable mentions. On then to the lists:
Before discussing the relative merits of the various finalists, the honourable mentions go out to:
  • Virginia - Starr Hill Dark Starr Stout, Blue Mountain Original Summer Mild, Williamsburg Alewerks Tavern Ale, Devils' Backbone 1904 Ramsey Stout.
  • USA - Terrapin Moo Hoo, Samuel Adams Honey Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter, Sierra Nevada Stout, Stone Smoked Porter, Highland Oatmeal Porter
  • World - BrewDog Paradox Smokehead, Unibroue Terrible, Zatec Black Lager, Porterhouse Oyster Stout, Fullers London Porter, Young's Double Chocoloate Stout, 

Ok, so on to the beers that made the list. The Washington's Porter from Williamsburg Alewerks is a beer that not only made excellent drinking, but goes well in fruit cake as well. Rich, chocolately and velvety, it is simply a wonderful beer that goes down insanely easily and is so packed full of flavour that I wouldn't worry too much if all other beers were outlawed from midnight.

My first taste of Left Hand's Milk Stout was in St Augustine, Florida. It was hotter than hell and to be perfectly honest stout of any kind would not have really hit the spot, though tasty it was. Come autumn, the leaves and temperature we plummeting and Left Hand had taken over the taps at Beer Run, along with Terrapin. Milk Stout, poured into a pint nonic? Yes please. A second just minutes later, you bet! Everything you expect from a stout, and then the creaminess of lactose. Simply lovely.


I have waxed lyrical about Porterhouse's Wrasslers XXXX before, so when I learnt that bottles of this delightful stout would be available in the US I immediately emailed every bottle shop in Charlottesville to find out if they intended to stock it. Beer Run said they would and patiently I waited. Then I blew $40 on getting plenty when it arrived. Big on chocolate and with a healthy bitterness to balance it all out, this is one of the best stouts available.

A very difficult choice, very difficult. However, the Fuggled Dark Beer for 2010 is:
  • Porterhouse Wrasslers XXXX
Sure there may be a hefty dose of nostalgia in my choice, but the fact that the $40's worth of Wrasslers in the cellar has been refreshed more than once is testament to my enduring love of this beer.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Got Milk Stout?

Why is it that some beer styles suffer from an image problem? I have mentioned this before but when I was younger, brown ale was considered a old man's drink. Now that I am approaching the half way point of my allotted three score years and ten, I enjoy brown ale muchly and have started brewing my own - a northern style brown ale so far, and planning a recreation of Mann's Brown Ale.

Another beer which suffered an image problem when I was young was milk stout. Milk stout suffered the same kind of image problem as dark lager in the Czech Republic, it was a woman's drink. Czech tradition says that dark lager is for women because it gives a girl bigger breasts, milk stout was likewise recommended to nursing mothers for its nutritious value. Just a quick aside, there may be some scientific backing for these traditions as darker beer is apparently higher in oestrogen.

Anyway, I was in Beer Run on Friday because the Downtown Mall was preparing for the visit of Barack Obama to rally the troops for Tom Perriello (political note: if I could vote here, Tom would get my vote, if you can vote in the 5th District, please get out and vote for Tom), and I didn't want to deal with the guaranteed travel nightmare. Beer Run had a special on Friday night, where all the taps, and the handpull, were taken over by Terrapin Beer and Left Hand Brewing. Most of the 14 beers available were still there on Saturday when I met up with James from A Homebrew Log to trade beers and collect his entries for the upcoming Palmetto State Brewers' Open. Looking at the beer list, the only beer, other than the cask, that really took my fancy was Left Hand's Milk Stout.

What a nice pint that was! We were sat out on the patio, the sun was shining and the temperature was just about what you would expect, apparently, for a Virginia autumn day - not too cool, but fresh. What then could top an imperial pint of a rich, creamy milk stout that was insanely easy to drink? To be honest nothing could have topped that, it was the perfect beer for the time and place, so I had another, interjected though with a pint of the Left Hand Black Jack Porter, which was also very nice.

So yes, I will be hunting out more of the Left Hand Milk Stout, as well as whatever other milk stouts I can find, maybe I will brew one as well. One thing that came to mind over the weekend was how many more beer styles are there which I dismissed in my youthful ignorance that will loom over the horizon to steal a little corner of my zythophilic heart?

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...

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