Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Brew Eight - A Black Beast

Today I put on my eighth brew. No name yet, no label - they'll come with the tasting in five or six weeks' time. But I can tell you what I started with, what I did, and where I hope I'll end up.

Here goes:

I wanted to build on the success of my fifth brew, V for Victory, which really was splendid (though it lacked carbonation). I made that using a Cooper's Stout kit, mixed with a can of Cooper's Amber Malt Extract, a cup of damn strong black coffee and about a litre of liberty hop tea. This time around I wanted to experiment just a little bit more.

I stuck with the Cooper's Stout kit again, but this time bought a tin of Dark Malt Extract, which I added to 10 litres of boiling water. Mixed it quickly so the extract wouldn't sink to the bottom and burn. Once it was rolling I added about 40 grammes of Cascade hops and set the alarm for 30 minutes. Cooked up some damn strong coffee, and drank a cup of tea.

When the alarm went I chucked in 30g of Liberty hops, and gave the mix another quarter of an hour. I used wee bags for the hops, which are a wee bit like tubigribs but without the tension, dude. They make it so much easier to strain, and you get less debris in your wort. Tights are a good alternative ...

When the timer went I carefully carried this massive and weighty pot to the bath, which was filled with cold water. There was a fair bit of steam and angry water action going on. Exciting. Key thing here was to cool the mix quickly and prevent contamination from, say, letting any water get into the pot. I gave it about 25 minutes to cool. House pure stank of malt and hops.

In that time I got my barrel and stout mix ready. Because I'm a brewing maverick living on the edge I threw in 350 grammes of Cooper's Brewing Enhancer Mix 2, which I just happened to have lying around. This will up the alcohol content, but does risk making the beer too thin. I'm hopeful, however, the hopping, the coffee adjunct and the weighty malts from the DME will prevent this. Totally rock 'n' roll this.

So I mixed all that up with some hot water then poured in the wort from the pot. All 10 litres of it. Ooomph. Made a bit of a mess and created a heavy head of foam. But that's OK: you want to aerate the mix. Then I topped it up to 22 litres (the tin said 23 litres but I always brew it short), poured off a sample for a hydrometer reading, and pitched the yeast in.

The yeast lay innocently on the foam. I should have left it there probably, especially as the temperature was about 24C, but I stirred it in good and proper, ya bas. It's important, I think, when brewing to do something you wish you hadn't on reflection ...

All that was left was to store the barrel, take a reading and sample it. The hydrometer read 1.050, which is nice and high and hopefully should mean I end up with a strong, hoppy, bitter stout. I've high hopes for it. Taste-wise, it's got a long journey in front of it, and along the way those sickly, sticky sweet malts are gonna work magic with the potent, pungent hop flavours and aromas. Cannae wait.