Brew day: Vanilla Mocha Stout
So it’s the morning after Terrapin’s first annual Hop Harvest Festival and I can’t sleep. I’m not sure if it’s because I was a wee-bit on the over indulged side of life, or so excited to be brewing again. I was going to brew a dark beer for the first time. A stout in fact. A sweet stout. A vanilla mocha stout. A stout with lactose (milk sugar) which is completely unfermentable, so this is why we have a sweet stout category. For vanilla, a jar of Madagascar vanilla beans. Damn they’re expensive. I found them anywhere from $6.99 to $12.19 for a jar containing only two beans. Well, I’d much rather use real vanilla beans than vanilla extract. For the mocha aspect I added 8 ounces of Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa. When people think of a vanilla mocha they think of a coffee drink. For the coffee I’m going to add 3 ounces of Jittery Joe’s Depth Charge whole coffee beans.
All of these were not added during the boil. The cocoa was added at the last 15 minutes of the boil, along with the lactose. The vanilla bean will need some preparing, then added to the secondary fermenter. To prepare it I’m going to cut each bean in half. Then split them long ways and dig out the inside of the beans. This will soak in an ounce or two of vodka to break out the flavors of the vanilla. It won’t notice the vodka in the beer as it’s only an ounce in five gallons. For the coffee I’ll break the beans with a rolling pin or I may put them in the coffee grinder for a very short time. Only to break the beans and release the flavor. These too will be placed in hot water and soak for a day or two. So basically it’ll be like adding espresso to the brew. I’ll add this to the bottling bucket and rack the beer from the secondary to the bottling bucket on top of it.
So how did this brew day go down? Quite nice actually, no hiccups, sans mistakes. Well, wait, I did forget to take a hydrometer reading until after I had put the lid on the fermenter and placed it in the ‘beer closest’. I did remember though, and grabbed a reading. Original gravity was 1.064, yet the recipe suggested OG was 1.065. So I’m not going to complain a single second about missing that number. This was the first time I used flaked oats in the grain recipe. Flaked oats, just like wheat malt contains a lot of proteins. These proteins, if not handled properly will haze the beer. So for this you do a protein rest by mashing at 122F for 15-30 minutes. This allows the proteins to drop out at this lower temperature. If mashed at a higher temperature first they’ll never drop out, but actually latch on to others. Then when the beer is chilled they’ll drop and cause starch haze. You can’t get a job nowadays with cloudy piss, so who wants a cloudy beer to make getting a job that much more difficult? After a 30 minute protein rest we mashed at 158F for 60 minutes. Then we go with a mash out of 170F for 10 minutes to really thin out the starches that have converted into sugars. This allows the sugars to be washed out of the grain with the strike water, which is also 170F. After I run the mash water through the grains and follow that with the strike water, we now have a kettle full of wort. We’ll now boil this for an hour. Then we’ll add some hops, some adjuncts, our cocoa, and a little Irish Moss. After the boil is finished the hard part begins. Trying to chill (hopefully) six gallons of 200F+ hot wort down to 70F so we can pitch the yeast.
I recently purchased a new brew toy to help with this. Before I would pour in chilled water or ice. This works fast but lowers your original gravity, the IBUs, plus might contribute to off flavors from water that hasn’t been boiled. Inside the wort is a copper immersion wort chiller. Simply put it’s 25′ of copper tubing with water running through it. Mine has water hose fittings so I can attach a typical water hose to it. By running cool water through the copper tubing it chills the tubing while at the same time the tubing is absorbing heat from the wort. Within 14 minutes the temperature of the wort dropped from 200F to 80F. I actually left it running for a good five minutes after it was 80F, and it wasn’t dropping after this. So I did throw in a few pieces of ice to lower the temperature more and bring the water level back to an even six gallons. This is probably to blame for the OG being a bit lower. It would probably be higher if I hadn’t have added the ice. All of this went off without a hitch. When I’m not in a hurry things tend to flow so much easier. It was a decently cool rainy day so Sarah was chilling with a book and the occasional Food Network shows.
I have to rack the stout the same day I bottle the pumpkin ale. So that’s going to be a chore filled day, but hopefully a no problem day. So my question to all of you is what do I brew next? I’m thinking an IPA with Centennial and Citra hops. I’d use Centennials for bittering, them swap to Citra near the end of boil and for dry hopping. Sarah and I even discussed adding some cherries for an additional sweetness like flavor to go with the sweetful smell of Citra hops. Leave comments on what you’d like for me to brew. No horse urine recipes please.