Back in late July, I brewed what I hope will be the first of many 'improved' Irish stouts. By that I mean a beer that I have made a concerted (and repeated) effort to improve upon each and time... something I can keep on tap and proudly serve to my friends knowing that they'll be drinking a damn good example of the style. A perfect pint in the works. However, I am pleased to say that with this beer, I've made some headway towards that goal. The recipe was pretty simple as usual, maris otter, wheat malt, roasted barley, and chocolate malt. If you've ever had a proper pint of Beamish... that is, on tap in Cork... I was aiming for a beer along that line - something easy drinking with a restrained roast character, showcasing none of the acrid and burnt flavors you get in many homebrewed examples. The main thing I did differently with this recipe is to use the wy1028 London Ale yeast instead of my usual Pacman. My thinking was that the London Ale would ferment out clean and dry, yet still provide some of those 'rich' yeast esters that can really add another level of complexity to a beer. I was a bit unsure if the yeast would produce some of those chalky and mineral flavors it is known for, but luckily that wasn't the case. As this beer sits now, I wouldn't call it your standard-bearer, BJCP dry stout, although I really like where it is going.
Cramer's Lane: Irish Dry Stout
Cramer's Lane: Irish Dry Stout
Appearance - Out of the tap, it pours an opaque black with ruby highlights and a medium tan colored head with decent retention. The beer turned out much darker than I had anticipated.
Aroma - First impression is of dark caramel and chocolate followed by a mellow roastiness. Esters are lightly fruity with some of those 'rich' yeast flavors I like so much. No diacetyl or hop character.
Taste - Like the aroma, the beer starts out with a dark caramel, plummy character that quickly transitions to a coffee/chocolate roast flavor. Compared to your average hombrewed Irish stout, the roast character of this beer is much more subdued, more of a sweet chocolate and coffee type of flavor than a dry/acrid roastiness. Also, given that there were no caramel malts used in the recipe, it is surprising how much caramel type flavor is in the beer. Hop aroma and bitterness are low and the beer finishes dry, with some residual sweetness. Yeast esters are spot on.
Mouthfeel - Carbonation is very low and the beer has a creamy, full mouthfeel.
Drinkability & Notes - After three weeks on tap, the combination of esters and roast character in this beer was about perfect for what I like to drink. While not really an "Irish Stout" in terms of pure roastiness - it tastes and drinks more like a chocolaty porter - I couldn't be happier with the flavor profile. The yeast in particular did an excellent job, as it gave the beer just enough complexity to make things interesting, yet still fermented out clean and dry. Also, unlike the other times I've used this yeast, it didn't produce any mineral flavors. A definite re-brew, with minor tweaks to the water profile and (possibly) with flaked barley instead of wheat.
4.7% ABV, 26 IBU, Wyeast 1028 London Ale Recipe Here