Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Irish Stout Tasting

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

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


  1. Just brewed something very similar myself recently, but with Pacman. It's awesome! I'm serving it on my new handpump which is really adding to the mouthfeel I think. The last time I brewed it I just used wy1056, but I think the pacman brings a new dimension. It seems to bring out the malt a bit more, and is contributing to the overall body, a sort of silky smoothness I didn't get in my last batch. My recipe is here: http://agdeanamhleann.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/ah-beamish.html

    1. I remember you mentioned brewing a stout with pacman, it is great to hear it turned out so well. I will certainty be using it again for my stouts, although it is nice to change things up once in a while. Also, I just came across your blog today and added it to my list. That hand-pump looks gorgeous, I am very jealous. Cheers.

    2. Thanks mate, that handpump is my pride and joy!

      Really impressed with the Pacman, I'll be brewing a big American style hoppy red soon and I'm thinking of trying it on that too. When I first got a Beamish recipe from you over on hombrewtalk you mentioned it would be a great yeast to use, but nobody had it in stock in Australia until very recently. I need to figure out some long term storage solutions for it because I think it was a special once off order by one home brew shop.

    3. The best long term storage would be to slant the yeast, although that is a bit of an investment. Washing and/or acid washing would be a close second.

  2. Sounds Tasty, but like you mentioned seems more like a porter? If you were to enter this into a competition, which category would you place it in? At what point does a stout become a porter? Sorry for being so inquisitive!

    1. I would still enter it as a dry stout, although it might be passable as a brown porter depending on who is judging. The whole porter-stout debate is a tough one. Stylistically, the BJCP says roasted barley doesn't belong in porters, but you can get away using a small amount. History says otherwise. I like a bit of RB in my porters, more so than using black malt.


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