Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Stout Tasting

St. Paddy's day. Can't say I've ever spent it slogging pints of Guinness with the hordes of Oi'rish at the bars or watching a parade. The whole commercialism of it all is a big turn off. When I was living in Ireland, St. Paddy's day was a pretty low key event. A nice walk in the countryside with the lady, followed by a few pints of Beamish or Murphy's at the local and maybe a rugby match on TV. No corned beef and cabbage and no leprechauns. It is funny how things change the farther you get from the source. Beamish for example. I never did enjoy drinking it in cans or when I found it on tap in the States. It always tasted best in Cork, right at those pubs around the brewery. It was a beautiful thing. Not the most flavorful or traditional of brews, but I can hardly imagine drinking anything else in that setting. I brewed a Beamish 'clone' back in December. Drank most of it in February and saved a bottle for today...

"Beamish Stout" : Irish Dry Stout          

Appearance - Pours an opaque - black color with ruby highlights and rocky tan colored foam. Head retention is good. Carbonation is a medium but possibly a bit too much for the style. Poured this one from a bottle that I had previously filled from the keg.

Aroma - Light roast and dry cocoa with some dark coffee notes. Esters are low, though some earthy and spicy hop character is apparent in the nose. Not much sweetness or grain character. 

Taste - Initial flavor is a dry cocoa powder and a coffee-like roast character that lingers on the palate. Some black malt like smokiness at the end. The roast flavor is nice and flavorful but not as strong as one would necessarily expect for a beer this dark. Esters are low and the hops make their presence known with the same spicy-earthy character in the aroma. The bitterness is medium-low and just enough to balance the malt. Goes down very easy. 

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is adequate, better as it warms up, and the beer has a nice and smooth mouthfeel.  
Drinkability & Notes - Overall, I am happy with this one. While I wouldn't say it is a perfect clone of Beamish - it has a bit too much hop and roast character for the real stuff (and) is a few SRM too dark - whatever I made is a tasty and easy drinking Irish stout. My main issue with this beer is that I don't think the Thomas Fawcett roasted barley is the best choice for a Beamish clone, as it has a bit smokier roast character than some of the other roasted barleys out there. Next time I brew this I'll go back to using a lighter flavored roast and tone down the hops. If anyone is interested in brewing a Beamish-type dry stout, I'd recommending starting out with around 7-8% roast, 5% chocolate, and 5% wheat malt and adjusting from there. 

O.G: 1.040, F.G: 1.010, 4% ABV, 30 IBU, Wyeast Pacman Ale 


  1. Hey, I pm'd you for a recipe for Beamish on a few weeks back (I'm sean_0 on there). Made it three weeks ago, fermented with US05, cold conditioned for a week. It was pretty awesome. I say was, because I had a party at my place Saturday (I'm irish living in Australia), and the keg was emptied by 5pm. A real taste of home. Here's a pic:

    I used Simpsons roasted barley, about 6%. I think the roast character was just right. I used about 3% Chocolate and I think that was about right, perhaps even too much.

    Thanks so much for sending me the recipe, despite stout being my drink of choice in the pub, I've never brewed one before so it was good to have your experience with the recipe to lean on.

    1. Hey man, great to hear it turned out well for you! And that you guys kicked the keg. That's always a good time.

      I'll definitely have to give the Simpsons roast barley a go again. The Thomas Fawcett is a bit too dark for the Beamish flavor. Though so long as it tastes good, no real loss.

      Thanks for the update and I'm glad I was able to help.


    2. By the way, I was reading Michael Lewis' Stout Classic Styles book, and Beamish was one of the breweries which responded to the questionnaire which he sent out. To the question "Do you have a preferred type of Pale Malt for brewing", they responded "Blenharm malt, Juliet barley for roast". Not much help I guess but interesting all the same.

      Have you seen the "My Beamish Boy" documentary? Well worth a look: .

  2. Thanks for the info, I'll definitely have to look into the matter of the malt a bit more. Also, I didn't realize the documentary was out. I remember watching the trailer for it probably a year ago and thinking I needed to see that. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a good amount of time at the brewery and I'm sure some of the people in it will look familiar. Thanks again!

  3. That's really interesting that Beamish would be so picky - in comparison to an interview I heard with Fullers, where the head brewer said to the effect that for the 95% of the grain bill that makes up ESB/London Pride/Chiswick Bitter that they use pale 2-row (no mention of marris otter or the like). They said they use pale malt from any available, and perhaps every maltster in the UK...I believe they called out muntons, TF, bairds, crisp, etc etc...and said we notice no difference, we use what's available, oftentimes we'll use all of one maltster's for a batch, they don't necessarily even blend. Apparently they're of no concern of the variations having any affect on the beer, or so certain of the 2-row they get being dead on the same that they leave it to the accountants.

    1. The effect of pale malt is less noticeable than say specialty malts. However, there are some beers where your base malt is everything. The very famous Tim Taylors landlord for instance -make that with MO and you'll get a very different beer. In Beamish's case, I know they were using Lager Malt for a while when it was brewed under Scottish and Newcastle.

      In the case of roast, the differences between maltsters can be night and day. I'm currently sitting on 18lbs of Thomas Fawcett roast barley and I'm wishing I didn't get so much. It has a much smokier character than say Crisp or Simpsons. Bairds makes an especially dark, black malt like RB.


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