Eureka, its time for yet another recipe from the past. Today’s recipe is my second attempt to brew a traditional Irish Stout recipe. My first attempt to brew such a beer resulted in a sour beer and a lot of disappointment. It took me nearly four years after my first failed attempt to brew another Irish Stout. To prevent another full sour batch, I chose to brew a small batch of 5 L (1.3 gal) instead.
One advantage of small batches is the smaller amounts of grains you need, less heating time and increased variety of beers you can make. However, there are some disadvantages that made me switch back to full batches. Even for experimental ones. One big disadvantage in my opinion is the lower efficiency I get with small batches. I have no problem with lower efficiencies in general. I just don’t like it when my calculations are not correct… I created a very sophisticated spreadsheet which fits perfectly for my full size batch size system (20 L, 5.3 gal). The original gravity and volume I now calculate with this spreadsheet is very close to what I measure after a brew day. This is very important in my opinion since I do have to prepare the yeast prior to the brew day. Another disadvantage of small batches is the time you need to make a small batch. In my experience the time you need to make a full batch is just a few hours longer than doing a small batch. However, this is just my experience about small batches. I just like to do big batches…
Back to the recipe. The grist is very typical for a Stout. Maybe the oatmeal flakes are not very typical. Lets go through the recipe.
|Numbers:||Volume [L]||5 (1.3 gal)|
|Color||Around 105 EBC (measured 98)|
|Grains:||Pale malt (6.5 EBC)||0.675 kg|
|Caramunich 3 (150 EBC)||0.03 kg|
|Barley flakes||0.15 kg|
|Oatmeal flakes||0.06 kg|
|Roasted barley (1150 EBC)||0.085 kg|
|Acidified malt (4.5 EBC)||0.1 kg|
|Hops:||Target (11.5% AA)||4 g and boil for 90 min|
|East Kent Goldings (6.5% AA)||2.7 g and boil for 90 min|
|Yeast:||Wyeast’s||#1084 Irish Ale|
|Water:||Burgdorf||Mash: 3 L (0.8 gal), sparge: 5 L (1.3 gal) @78°C (172°F)|
|Rest:||Mash in @66°C (151°F), 90 min @66°C (151°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)|
|Boil:||Total 90 min|
|Fermentation:||Primary||5 days @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter|
|Maturation:||Carbonation (CO2 vol)||2|
|Maturation time||4 weeks|
August 2010, small batch day. The batch size was so low, I could even use a normal pan to do the resting. Iodine test was negative after the rest at 66°C (151°F). Did a fly sparge and boiled the wort for 90 min with the hops. Then cooled down the wort and pitched Wyeast’s #1084 Irish Ale yeast. Original gravity of 10.4°P. Lower than expected…
Gravity down to 3°P after five days of primary fermentation. Bottled the beer with some leftover wort and left the bottles carbonate for a week. Used half of the batch for a coffee stout. Then left the bottles in my refrigerator for nearly four weeks.
October 2010: Tasting:
Aroma: Hoppy and some chocolate notes. Not a lot of roastyness.
Appearance: Black appearance, creamy tan colored head with very tiny bubbles.
Flavor: Big chocolate and roasty character. Some hoppyness detectable and some maltyness as well. Rather nice.
Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, lively carbonation, short and sweet aftertaste. Very watery though. Easy to enjoy anyway.
Overall Impression: Very refreshing and I could not detect any off-flavors. Really like the way this turned out. Although, for my taste, the beer should have more body to counteract the watery sensation. I slightly changed this recipe for the next, third, Irish Stout batch. Will post the coffee stout recipe in a few days. Stay tuned!
A few of my thoughts on small batches… I find very small batches (10L or less) are the way to go if you’re really experimenting with something (ingredients or technique) and don’t want to risk spoiling the cost/effort of a full batch. I also find scaling back a very practical approach when very large yeast pitches are needed OR I’m making a very hoppy beer that’s best very fresh. If you’re making something that requires a great deal of hops, dry hopping in particular, then a 14-15L batch is far more manageable from the ingredient perspective. I tend to drink most of my batches myself, and consuming 20L of a hoppy IPA during it’s optimal freshness just isn’t practical a lot of the times. There’s no sense using all those hops and all that effort if I can’t get to it while it’s optimally fresh. I actually scaled back for batch #106 for both the yeast and hops reason.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sure, if you go into a brew with a new technique, ingredient why not make a small batch first. If I brew beers with large pitching rates (with high original gravities), I normally do another batch to get the appropriate amount of yeast. I really like Stouts and Imperial Stouts. Whenever I do a Imperial Stout, I brew a Stout before it.
Luckily for me, I am not the only one drinking my beers. A 20 L keg can be gone rather quickly… And I do not brew IPAs regularly either.
Everyone uses different techniques to get the job done. I really like to do big batches. On the other hand, I do a lot of split batches to test stuff. For the same reasons as already mention: keep the risks at a minimum.