Irish Stout – Recipe & Review

Drinking Guinness at St. James's Gate

An early sighting of this Pour Reporter at St. James’s Gate way back in 2003.

Update 4/2/2017 – This beer placed 3rd in the first round of the National Homebrew Competition and will be moving on to the final round at Homebrew Con in Minneapolis.

Back in the day, I remember feeling a certain bravado and sense  of sophistication when ordering a pint of Guinness.

It’s dark! It’s so thick! Look at the head and those bubbles!

Today I consider Guinness the bunny hill of craft beer slopes. But back then, it was GUINNESS. It was different, so much older than the American macro lager I was accustomed to. Something with flavor. Something exotic. Something authentic. In spite of the feelings I have today, Guinness will always invoke a sense of nostalgia and serve as a delicious reminder of when I first started exploring the world of beer.

Somewhat ironically, I had always thought of Guinness a filling beer, something thick. Only with age and beery wisdom, have I come to see it as something quite the opposite. A session beer that happens to have tons of flavor without imposing heavy caloric tariffs on my waste line or alcoholic ones on my liver. So in honor of St. Patrick’s day, an homage to one of my earliest beers of choice. This version has a bit more roast character, but I think it is on par in sessionability and deliciousness to the original Irish Stout.

Irish Stout

Don’t let the snifter fool you, this is a beer built for sessionability.

Irish Stout Recipe

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 72%
Attenuation: 75%

Original Gravity: 1.047
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 32.8 SRM
Alcohol: 4.2% ABV (calculated)
Bitterness: 37.3 IBU

Malt Bill:
4.25 lbs. (69.4%) Crisp Maris Otter
1.0 lb. (16.3%) Briess Flaked Barley
6 oz. (6.1%) Muntons Roasted Barley
4 oz. (4.1%) Thomas Fawcett Chocolate Malt
4 oz. (4.1%) Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash Profile:
150°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
2 g. Gypsum (to mash)
5 g. Chalk (to mash)

1 oz. East Kent Goldings (5.1% AA) – 60m

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea. Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – 15m
0.5 tsp. Wyeast Nutrient – 10m

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 15B Irish Stout

Aroma (8/12):
Moderately high aroma of roasted malts, with some complexity including notes of dry baker’s chocolate, coffee, and a touch (perhaps too much) of ashy and smoky roast. The roast is somewhat aggressive and pushes the upper end of the style limit. Beyond the roast is a very nice bready, slightly sweet malt component that is quite inviting, like baking bread. No crystal sweetness, hop character, or fermentation esters.

Appearance (3/3):
Quite black, although if you hold the edge of the glass to the light you see some very dark ruby notes. Large, soapy bubbles build a nice persistent tan head.

Flavor (17/20):
The roasted flavor is a bit less than the nose would have hinted at, but has a nice round baker’s chocolate character. The roast is quite drying on the tongue. There are some pleasant toasty malt flavors, but the beer is devoid of any sweet caramel or toffee character. There is a firm medium-plus bitterness that leaves the palate quite dry, especially when combined with the roast.

Mouthfeel (5/5):
Medium body with a nice fullness that avoids being too filling. The mouthfeel is pretty exceptional considering the low starting gravity of this beer. There is a slightly acidic tang that brightens the palate and gives the beer a bit more personality.

Overall Impression (7/10):
The is a great iteration of Irish Stout; though it pushes the upper limit of roast that I would expect in this style, especially when compared to a macro commercial example like Guinness. The roast has a slight acrid note that I’d prefer didn’t exist in the beer and probably could be eliminated by choosing a different maltster, other than Muntons for the roasted barley.

Excellent (40/50)

Dry Irish Stout Homebrew Recipe & Review

_DSC2168Update: This beer was awarded 1st place in combined categories 14&15 at Homebrew Alley X.

One of the great session beers in the world, Irish Stout is often maligned as being thick, heavy, chewy, sweet, and high in alcohol. This is a really interesting phenomenon as I see the style as being quite the opposite. For me, it is a low-alcohol session beer that has quite a bit of interesting roast character and enough flaked barley to keep the mouthfeel from being too thin.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit and am convinced that that the root of the problem has to do with the fact that it is typically the adventurous choice made by the typical non-craft drinker. In comparison to a beer like Bud Light, I would certainly agree that it is the heavier option. More so, I think a lot of the misconception in regard to Irish Stout has to do with the fact that the beer is nearly black–something that many people psychologically associate with something being heavy.

The basis of this recipe is the heavily cited clone recipe for Guinness Stout. The main change I implemented was in the overall composition of the roasted malts. I’ve used English ale strains for this beer in the past, but have found that American Ale yeast works even better, providing a clean fermentation character while being more attenuative.

Dry Irish Stout Recipe

Size: 3.25 gal
Efficiency: 60%
Attenuation: 75%

Original Gravity: 1.046
Terminal Gravity: 1.012
Color: 37.31 SRM
Alcohol: 4.53% ABV
Bitterness: 41.7 IBU

Malt Bill:
5 lb (69.0%) Crisp Maris Otter
1.25 lb (17.2%) Barley Flaked
8 oz (6.9%) Crisp Roasted Barley
4 oz (3.4%) Crisp Chocolate
4 oz (3.4%) Briess Midnight Wheat

Mash Profile:
152°F – 60m

Water Treatment:
Extremely Soft NYC Water
Added to mash:
2g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
5g Chalk (Calcium Carbonate)

36g East Kent Goldings (5.7% AA) – 60m

Kettle Additions:
0.5 ea Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) – added during boil, boiled 15m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – added during boil, boiled 10m

Wyeast 1056 American Ale – 1L Starter on Stir Plate

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP 13A. Dry Stout

Aroma (10/12):
Medium-low roast character that is dry and toasty while being reminiscent of coffee with a hint of bitter chocolate. Behind the roast are some nice bready and slightly toasty notes. No diacetyl, DMS, alcohol, or other off-aromas.

Appearance (2/3):
Just a shade lighter than black with some reddish ruby highlights. Clear. Great frothy foam with a beige head (white is typical to style).

Flavor (15/20):
Medium level of roast with lots of coffee notes and just a touch of acrid and burnt character. Very low levels of chocolate flavor. Malt is nice and toasty. Hop bitterness is medium-low with a very smooth character. No hop flavor. The finish is quite dry. Slightly acidic / tart twang on the finish.

Mouthfeel (4/5):
Low body with a full creamy mouthfeel. Dry. Just a touch of roasty astringency on the finish.

Overall Impression (7/10):
This is a really nice Irish stout. There is a touch of acidity from the roast which balances out the smooth mouthfeel provided by the flaked barley. Very sessionable and dry, but also intriguing with its nuanced roast character.

Excellent (38/50)