Thursday, 17 March 2016

Tasting notes & a recipe - Kitchen Sink Stout (for St. Paddies day)

I don't always blog all the beers I brew, but seeing as it is St. Paddies day I thought I'd do a quick post one one such batch - my "Kitchen Sink Stout". As the name suggests, this beer was brewed by taking all of my odd-and-end grains & hops and trying to formulate a recipe that used them all up. What I ended up with was 40L (~10 US gallons) of a dry-style "stout" (stout in quoted because this is too dark/roasty for porter but has no roast barley). While this beer was brewed back in mid-November, I've managed to hold onto a few bottles until now.

The recipe is complex, not because I wanted it to be but rather because of the large number of malts I was trying to rid myself of:
  • 8kg marris otter
  • 0.7kg Carafa Special II
  • 0.67kg flaked oats
  • 0.45kg victory malt
  • 0.2kg black patent
  • 0.18kg carawheat
  • 0.1kg carafa special III
  • mashed for 60 min at 68.3C
Hopping was also done kitchen-sink style:
  • 100g (50 IBU) Northern Brewer, 60 min
  • 30g EKG + 30g Fuggels, 15 min
Fermented with 2 packs of Safale S-04 (English ale).

So how did this beer turn out... tasting notes can be found below the fold.

Appearance: Black as black can be. Between the black patent and various debittered dark malts this thing came out looking like India ink...and has a brown head to boot. I'm pretty sure the beer is haze-free, but without a 10,000W bulb backlighting it, you won't be able to tell one way or the other.

Aroma: Chocolate and malt. No notable hop aroma (which was expected).

Flavour: Up-front there is a strong chocolate and coffee note, built on top of a medium maltiness with toast notes. Later in the sip an odd flavour/sensation begins to emerge; not an astringency you'd get from too many roasted malts, but something similar - I suspect from excess debittered roast malts. Its a somewhat harsh, roast character, but lacks the drying sensation created when too many conventional roasted malts are used. Somewhat like overly strong coffee - harsh, but not drying. The aftertaste is a mix of roast characters and a hint of malt sweetness. Overall its a little unbalanced; a stronger sweet note is needed to help support the strong coffee and chocolate notes.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly sweet.

Overall: "Kitchen sink" type beers are rarely winners - they're the sort of thing we brew on occasion to clear out the pantry, and no one expects a home run. Despite that, this beer isn't all that bad. It is super-roasty, with a fantastic coffee and chocolate note. What it lacks is balance - there is too much roast and hop bitterness, and not enough sweetness to balance it out. A modest dose of medium crystal malt would make this beer a real winner. Of course, the likelyhood of me ever having this particular combination of malts in my pantry again is slim, so what this beer could have been will continue to remain a mystery.

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