From the HBD Archive
From: mds@wang.WANG.COM (Marc San Soucie)
Subject: Stout
Date: 1989-08-02 14:59:54 GMT

James Kolasa writes:

> Also, I'm whipping up my first stout in about a week. Any tips? And for
> that matter, any recipes? I haven't exactly committed myself to any method
> yet.

I am a devout stout drinker, the more so since most of my beer-drinking
friends prefer amber and golden ales to stouts, leaving me to drink all of
my homebrewed stout. Fine by me. This leaves me free to concoct stouts
to my own tastes exclusively. As a result I have experimented quite a bit
with different kinds of ingredients and combinations, and have come up with
the following general observations. Bear in mind that I use only malt
extracts because I haven't had the time to pick up all-grain brewing yet.

You can make a quite acceptable "stout" from dark malt and hops. Some of
the unique character of an "interesting" stout will be missing, though.
It is best to include one or more of the following adjuncts to give the
stout more flavor and effect.

Roasted Barley is the classic stout ingredient, providing a nice roasted
flavor, creaminess, rich head, and some tartness. Quantities can range from
1/4 - 1 pound, depending on the amount of malt and other ingredients. A full
pound can be intimidating in a thin stout. Roasted barley grains should be
at least cracked before steeping. I have ground them finely on occasion,
with corresponding increase in oomph.

Black Malt is another important adjunct, imparting dark color, a tangy, burnt
flavor, considerable tartness, and a bracing first impact on the tongue.
I have made very nice "stout" from dark malt, black malt, and hops. Without
the roasted barley it is perhaps presumptuous to call it a stout, but not
many people are willing to taste a "Black Ale". I have used anywhere from
1/4 - 1 pound of this also, prepared like the roasted barley. Only grind
this stuff if you know you like its effect.

Chocolate Malt is a nice brown malt adjunct, which has a less aggressive
effect on beer than black malt. Though I have used it occasionally, I find
it a bit too mild-mannered for my stouts, preferring the cha-cha of black.

Crystal Malt, the homebrewer's friend, adds a touch of body and sweetness
even to a stout, though the effect is more subtle than in an amber ale.
I have found myself adding this to a stout in apologetic response to having
ground the tar out of a pound of black malt, though it may have had only
symbolic value in that stout. It can help with the head, as well.

Wheat Malt is another helper adjunct in a stout, adding creaminess and
supporting the head. It can also provide a touch of tartness, of a different
kind than the black malt and roasted barley offer. It makes the stout
behave better for your friends and family.

My very basic stout recipe, from which I always deviate, is:

6-8 pounds of dark malt extract (usually unhopped, but not always)
1/2 - 1 pound roasted barley
1/2 - 1 pound black malt
3-4 ounces strong bittering hops (love that Bullion!)
Some good aromatic hops, or none if you love Bullion
Ale yeast of good pedigree

To this skeleton I add other adjuncts, or remove things if the wind blows
from the south. I think it is worth every stout drinker's while to make one
batch of stout with dark malt and black malt only, just to see how nice
a beer this is. Roasted barley is lovely, but not essential for my taste.
A good strong bittering hops is key, though. Bullion is lovely, as are
Nugget or Chinook. But heck, you can make a great stout with just hopped
malt extract.

There are no appreciable differences in brewing technique between stouts and
other ales, save that there are larger quantities of grain adjuncts involved,
so larger grain bags or more care must be used when worting. Also, beware
the 9-pound batches (3-can), as these tend to blow the covers off plastic
fermenters from time to time.

As others will no doubt tell, there are literally scads (at least two) of
other additives and adjuncts which can be lobbed into a stout without
damaging it, and many provide interesting variations of flavor.

The basic conclusion is that almost (almost) anything works when making a
stout, but matching your own taste preferences is a matter of experimentation.
Be prepared, though, to give up drinking commercial bottled stouts, because
frankly, nothing can match the taste of a homemade.

Marc San Soucie
The John Smallbrewers
Massachusetts

mds@wang.wang.com -or- uunet!wang!mds

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