Is a shedload the right word for a lot of stout? An Oil tanker? A Swimming pool? I’m not sure there’s an official term but whatever we decide it is that’s what we had at the February meeting. As well as a lot of beers it was great to see a lot of people. A couple of new members and great to see some old faces again.
Fifteen beers is a good old session and we had some superb specimens. I think there’s a wealth of stout brewing capability in this group. We need to turn our hand to malting and come up with a way to get the dark colour into Gluten Free grains. The first beer was a GF Stout but suffered from low colour. The use of tea in the recipe, I think, helped with the dark flavours but there’s a solution to the increasing the colour out there somewhere.
We then had a couple of versions of the same beer – Camden’s Ink – two great dry stouts the biggest difference that jumped out was the body. The beer with amazing body, much fuller than the 4.5% abv warrants was mashed at 66.5C. So there was a lot of surprise and discussion about how high this seemed, but it obviously worked. Both these beers were great examples of a stout in terms of both recipe and execution. It also led into a discussion about how using a higher mash temperature could inject a fuller body into Gluten free beers. Mashing these in at 68-70C may have a dramatic increase in unfermentable dextrins that would add to the mouthfeel of these beers.
We had a little jaunt away from Stout-land with a malty clean schwarzbier and discussed the use of oxygen scavenging caps , really useful if you’re planning on keeping your beers for a long time. This was followed by a Dunkel Weiss which was drinkable but lacked a little in the banana aroma department and had quite an acidic bite. The source of this acidity was discussed and various potential reasons were proposed.
Back on the stouts we delved into commercial samples – see what we’re aiming for. One of these was a beer brewed using Kviek yeast – something we’ve often discussed – the strong coffee and chocolate and full body were something we could all aim for. I’d recommend Mammoth brewery’s Aguacatones breakfast coffee stout A great beer.
Back to the homebrew and we get right back onto a return star we’ll now call Mt Vesuvius. The Cherry and tequila soaked oak chip stout we’ve tasted rounding out over the past few months has fantastic flavours but is a lively beast. It took some opening and we lost a very high proportion of the bottle to excessive foam loss, but it was worth it.
Alan’s cooking stout we tasted while the explosive beer settled down to pouring effervescence and this was a treat. A classic dry stout with a subtle flavour of dandelion & burdock from a Barr’s pop lorry a happy reminiscence. We followed this up with a triple Christmas stout comparison. The same beer made for the last three Christmas’s from 2020 to 2022. The flavour changes were noticeable as the beer aged, some slight oxidation flavours in the older bottles gave a sherry note, the others were enormous with a lot of complex flavours marrying together in a way that clearly rounds out over time. Maybe the oxygen scavenging caps are perfect for beers that are to be aged like these.
Our last stout of the night – not the last drink mind – was a strong 7.5% boozy brew that had a slight apple flavour to it we couldn’t pin down. Was it red apples or maybe even soft fruits? However the beer was one you could sit down with a big cigar in front of a roaring fire on a dark winter’s night. Stout level completed we rounded off the night with some fruit.
Brining the bananas was a classic representation of a Hefeweizen. Bang on spec, doing everything as it should, cloudy, thick white head and the distinctive aroma and taste direct from Germany.
For desert we ended with two meads. My first time drinking mead and I can say I’m a fan. I was expecting honey but got a zingy, refreshing, smell of springtime from the elderflowers and punchy in your face fruit-acidity in the red fruit version. The flavours belied the strength of the beverages and you could easily see yourself sipping a lot more of these than you expected to.
We ended the evening finishing off the remaining beers and agreeing that the Old Windsor Horticulture show can act as our annual homebrew contest as they have rosettes and a judge known to like strong sweet beers. The idea was floated to all brew the same recipe for this, something we will discuss further I’m sure as ew have until the beginning of September to get our act together.
We also agreed on a theme for April. SMaSH. This is a Single Malt, Single Hop brew. Something you can use to highlight of experiment with a malt or hop variety you want to shine through. That’s the only requirement, one hop type, one malt type. Your mashing, hop additions, yeast, water additions etc etc are still a free for all. I look forward to trying them.
(Note : updated 27 FEB 2023 following an error on the mash temperature used to make the Ink Stout)