Beer Review: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Take a look at that head...

5.2% ABV
SRM: ~32

The first thing I noticed is the very nice head this beer poured…almost three fingers of creamy tan. I let it sit for a bit and the head hung around like a loser at a party…awhile without much change or movement. As I drank the beer, the head left very good lacing throughout the glass.

Looking at the beer, it looked dark brown but appeared to be fully opaque, giving me the impression that it’s actually black.

The aroma was somewhat disappointing. I noticed a bit of dark chocolate aroma mixed with a bit of coffee/nutty scents. I could definitely sense some of the roasted qualities of the malt but overall, the chocolate aroma is much less than what I expected it to be.

As for mouth feel, I would say full bodied, thick mouth feel. Many consider stouts to be naturally thick, full bodied beers. As a category, that’s not the case which tempered my expectations a bit here. However, with the chocolate additions, and most likely some lactose for sweetness, the mouth feel here was right on with what I expected, solid overall.

The flavor had some bitterness but it is actually similar to the bitterness of a 70-80% cocoa bar rather than any hop flavor..which was obviously good considering the name. Though it had some bitterness, this is definitely a sweet stout. I noticed the roasted malts (primarily chocolate malt which tastes more roasted than actual chocolate). I did get some dark chocolate flavor, but less than anticipated, similar to the aroma. This a solid beer that leaned on the sweet side of the scale. Though I’d consider it a sweet stout, the aftertaste had some nice bitterness but not at all harsh or disappointing. I was pleased to notice very little stout like coffee flavors which I’m not yet into quite yet.. The carbonation was right on for the style. One thing I could tell is that as the beer goes down, the chocolate aroma increases quite a bit which is definitely a plus.

It has great balance, solid flavor, a thick (but nice) mouthfeel, and an acceptable aroma. Even with all of that, I couldn’t imagine drinking more than a couple of these on any given night…though not a bad thing.

Overall: 8/10 (B+)
Solid beer…though less chocolate aroma and flavor than I expected from the raves of my sister and friends. There’s a chance that the high expectations may have hindered my overall grade somewhat.

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Beer Review: My American Wheat

My American Wheat
~5.1%
srm: hazy 4

Head poured about 1 finger of white
Little retention

Aroma is a little grapefruit with a citrus base that is reminiscent of lemon

Rather light mouthfeel

Low on carbonation but not low enough to hinder drinkability

A good mix of balance for a light wheat beer.

Overall, I got what I was hoping for…a light wheat beer with a nice light appearance to convert BMC drinkers at my upcoming ribfest. For my tastes, it’s too light, but should be a hit with light beer drinkers.

6.5/10 for my tastes as an American wheat due to the lightness and lack of strong flavors. 10/10 for what i was trying to accomplish with this brew. Considering I am rating a beer that has been bottle fermenting for 4 days, this beer should only get better as it picks up more carbonation. I’m pleased with the results.

Big Sky Brewing IPA

This is how I take notes on my iPhone when reviewing a beer…

Mediocre, which I guess I is better than a usual M.Night Shyamalan movie...

Big Sky Brewing Co IPA

6.2% ABV
Srm: 8.5-9?

Poured a nice 2 finger head with good retention…a light cream color

There’s a nice hop aroma, definitely not overpowering but has the hop smell I enjoy. I enjoy an even more robust aroma, but this will do. The aroma smells a mix of grapefruit and maybe pine.

This brew has a nice hop flavor with the malt backbone to support the amount of bitterness. The aftertaste has a harsh bitterness.

Clarity is ok…with a light caramel look.

Lacing is solid

As I drink, the maltyness is accenuated in the aroma.

Overall: 6/10 (C-C+)

The review may read better than the overall rating but this beer screams average in every category. Nothing was an eye opener and it wasn’t something that I’d drink more than 1 or 2 of at any given point. Not a bad beer…there’s just many that are better.

Today’s a brew day

Update: The brew day went excellent. I was going for an original gravity of 1.047 and ended up a little over 6 gallons at 1.049…so more beer and a higher gravity, excellent. I hope to see the airlock going crazy by tomorrow morning but we’ll see.

So as I sit here I’m currently about 15 minutes in on my American Wheat mash. I’ve been doing 10 gallon batches for quite sometime but decided to go with a 6 gallon today. I was worried about my ability to safely carry around ~11 gallons of boiling wort. I was initially planning on doing two different 6 gallon batches today but figure I’ll wait and do 6 gallons of a blonde maybe as soon as Wednesday.

Here’s the recipe I went with on the American Wheat that I have yet to name:

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S05
Yeast Starter: no
Batch Size (Gallons): 6
Original Gravity: 1.047
Final Gravity: ~1.010
IBU: 16
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 4.1 SRM
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 @ 68F

Ingredients
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00%

4lbs Pale Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 34%
4lbs Base 2 Row (1.5 SRM) Grain 34%
2.75lbs Malted Wheat (2 SRM) 23.2%
.75lbs Flaked Wheat (2 SRM) 6.4%
.30lbs Honey Malt (20 SRM) 2.3%

.3 oz Magnum [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 12 IBU
.3 oz Magnum [13.00%] (5 min) Hops 2 IBU
.3 oz Cascade [6.4%] (5 min) Hops 1 IBU
.4 oz Cascade [6.4%] (0 min) Hops 0 IBU

1 TSP Irish Moss (15 min)
2 TBSP PH water corrected into mash and sparge water

1 Pkg Safale US-05 Ale Yeast

Mash Profile

Single Infusion
60 min Mash In Add 4 gallons of water at 165 F 152.0 F
collected ____ gallons on mash out
Add 5.5 gallons of water at 175 F 171.0 F for sparge
collected ____ gallons of sparge runoff

In the upcoming week I plan to rack my Chocolate Stout to secondary fermenters and add some various things that I’ll post about later. I also will be writing up a couple of beer reviews as well..I have about 20 pending write ups. I’ll probably post a list of upcoming reviews at the end of the end of my next post.

Beer Review: Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

Old Rasputin put a spell on me...lame, I know


ABV: 9%
SRM: ~35

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m really beginning my exploration into stouts and porters. As a guy who has never liked coffee, stouts haven’t been of much interest due to the majority having what I relate to a coffee aroma and a strong coffee flavor. With that being said, I can say that the stout flavor is really growing on me and I plan to review significantly more in the future.

This beer was bought at a no name bar…which pleasantly surprised me with a decent list of bottled beers. This beer poured a decent tannish colored head, nothing outstanding but respectable from what I’ve seen come from other stouts. Initially it appeared as though this beer was as black as night…completely opaque but after holding it up to a bright light it looked as though there was some brown. As I drank, the beer actually had solid lacing throughout the glass.

The aroma wasn’t as strong as I had anticipated considering the color and the alcohol content. I did notice some caramel, a bit of roasted coffee scent, some alcohol, and maybe some chocolate. The beer had a nice smelling aroma, but was rather lackluster when it comes to the amount of overall aroma.

The taste was somewhat sweet with a definite light coffee flavor. There was a strong dark chocolate flavor that was nicely intertwined with some strong, but pleasant, caramel maltyness. I didn’t notice an real hop presence. The beer had some obvious hop bitterness, but no real hop flavor or aroma. I really enjoyed the flavor profile overall. I don’t like coffee as I stated earlier, but this stout wasn’t focused on coffee flavor rather a dark chocolate, malty caramel flavor. The flavor may have been aided by the excellent mouthfeel, which was thick but not too much. The carbonation was more than most stouts I’ve had but it felt like a nice touch as the beer maintained smoothness.

Overall, this beer was pretty complex with a variety of flavors and aromas. The alcohol, sitting at 9%, makes this a tough beer to drink continuously, but I think I could easily drink 2-3 in a sitting without getting burnt out or feeling like Old Rasputin is getting to rich.

Grade: 9.5/10 (A-)

An excellent stout overall. I’m definitely looking forward to my next one, which I hope is soon. If you’re trying to expand your stout palate, try and Old Rasputin and hope you’re at a bar that’s doing 2 for 1’s as you’ll want another.

Just a quick FYI, here’s a LINK that gives a brief explanation of who Rasputin was, what he did, and some of his historical significance.

Sorry for the picture quality, the bar wasn’t well lit and my IPhone doesn’t have a flash.

Double Chocolate Update

I just pulled my first Double Chocolate Stout sample after 4 days of fermentation. The airlocks stopped some point yesterday, so I figure I’d check it out and see where I’m at. I figured I’d have trouble getting this thing below the 1.020 mark because of the lactose, chocolate additions, etc but I’m happy to report it has come in quite a bit lower than that. The Nottingham yeast I used went to town on the sugars, knocking my gravity from 1.056 to 1.015 in about 4 complete days. Those two readings give me a rough alcohol ABV of 5.4%…not bad. The aroma of the sample has a bit of roasted coffee scent but not near as much as most of the stouts I’ve had. The color looks to be right where I wanted it…a very dark brown. Most stouts will be close to black by the book but because I was going for a dark chocolate flavor, I wanted the beer to resemble that same color. The flavor has a dark chocolately bitterness to it, but has the light coffee taste I was trying to avoid if at all possible. The coffee taste is on the front but the flavor moves into a nice chocolate with a very nice dark chocolate after taste (it actually tastes the same as though I just had a piece of 70% dark chocolate). Overall, the beer has a nice flavor but needs a bit more chocolate flavor on the front which I think would come with some nice chocolate aroma. The bitterness seems to be balanced okay with the sweetness. I’d say this should end up being a very solid beer. I plan on giving it a couple of weeks in the fermenters to clean everything up and then racking to secondaries where I plan to put in some ‘Creme de Cacoa’ for some aroma. Ideally I’d like to use some chocolate extract but I can’t really find it anywhere locally. I guess we shall see…

In addition, I dry hopped my A peTit APA on Monday. I have two fermenters and I did two different dry hops.

Fermenter #1: 1oz of Cascade and 1oz of Willamette
Fermenter #2: 1oz of Cascade and 1oz of Citra

This should give me a nice idea on the differences of the two completely different hops (Willamette and Citra) and how they do when used to dry hop. My favorite hop, Cascade, was added because well, it’s my favorite pale ale aroma hop.

Big brew day completed

Yesterday I brewed 10 gallons of a completely new recipe that I came up with after researching stouts, chocolate additions, etc. From what I can tell, it turned out as well as expected. My end gravity ended up being lower than I expected, but by how much I’m not sure. I use an Iphone app called BrewPal, which works very well. If I go by their numbers, I hit my number right on at 1.056…but I’m not confident that’s correct with the additions I made. Either way, here is a general idea of what I did and how things went down.

Everything started great, I milled my grain:

17lbs of Pale Malt
1.8lbs of Chocolate
5oz of Roasted Barley
1lb of CaraPils

While milling my grain, I was heating my mash water. I ended up mashing 7gallons in at 165, coming to 156 in the mash tun. Over the hour of mashing, I lost about 2-3 degrees of temperature, ending at about 153. I mashed off about 4.67 gallons of wort before sparging. I sparged 8 gallons at about 179-180, coming to about 174 or so. I sparged off about 7.34 gallons, giving me 12 gallons into the brew pot.

The sweet smell of mashing wort

The color looked to be very dark brown but not quite black and smelled great. I was going for a roasted smell but didn’t want a strong coffee scent, even before my boil additions.

Close to black, but definitely dark brown

Close to black, but definitely dark brown

After running off a total of about 12 gallons, I collected a sample…which was later spilled as a friend grabbed a beer from the fridge. So…no pre-boil sample ended up being my first small issue.

Before I even started my boil, I mixed my baker’s cocoa. I wanted to prevent lumps, so I decided to mix 12oz of baker’s cocoa with about 1/3 of a gallon of COLD water. I decided to do this for a couple of reasons: 1) I’ve read about people having big issues with adding bakers cocoa to the boil…tons of lumping 2) after reading about these issues and others, I wanted to find a way to make it into a syrup type substance, so I decided to treat it like I would flour…mix with cold water…mix the water into the powder. Overall, the mixing went as well as it could. I slowly mixed the water into the bakers cocoa and came out with a very thick substance that looked and smelled almost exactly like a ready to go brownie mix.

Smelled great...tasted like garbage

After preparing the bakers cocoa, I measured out my hops:

.6oz of Magnum at 60min
1 oz of Willamette at 30 min

Now onto the boil. Once I got the wort boiling rapidly, I added my Magnum hops first and foremost. About 5 minutes into the boil, I added my chocolate bars…5 small bars of Moser Roth 85% Dark Chocolate. The 5 bars totaled 4.4oz…which I broke into very small pieces and added to the boil while stirring (to prevent any scorching on the bottom of the boil pot). In addition, I added 1lb of cane sugar to reduce some body a bit and add a bit of alcohol.

This says 70%, but I used 85%...I'm eating this 70% as I write

During my 25 minute off time (until my next addition), I measured out my lactose…22oz total. I followed that up with another beer and an ultra competitive game of bags with some friends.

My neighbor Krista...whose team was losing about 12-0 at this point

At the 30 minute mark, I added my 1oz of Willamette hops while continuing to stir occasionally in case any chocolate from the bars settled to the bottom of the brew pot. At 15 minutes I added 2 TSP of Irish Moss followed by my bakers cocoa mass at 10 minutes. I slowly poured the bakers cocoa into the brew point…which works rather well as I stirred. Once the bakers cocoa was mixed in, we all simultaneously agreed that the wort smelled of chocolate heaven if there is such a thing. At about 8 minutes, I mixed in my 22oz of lactose, making sure it didn’t clump.

At that point, my process was the same as always…crash cool the brew with my copper wort chiller, siphon into my fermenters (2 plastic ale pales in this particular case), pitch my re-hydrated yeast (Nottingham dry yeast), and close the buckets up with air tight lids with an airlock.

Overall, I must say the day went well. The wort smelled excellent and tasted very chocolatey without being too bitter. A few things that didn’t work out well:

-My pre-boil gravity reading was spilled all over my fridge…thus no reading taken
-My wort chiller hose melted to my brewpot, which was easily fixed
-The ending gravity came in at 1.056, much lower than expected with the additions I made
-My brewpal software somehow didn’t save my full notes (I found that out as I started this post)…which were pretty detailed. I’m happy I decided to write about my brew day while everything was fresh in my mind.

Actual Recipe:

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Nottingham
Yeast Starter: no
Batch Size (Gallons): 10
Original Gravity: 1.056
Final Gravity: ?
IBU: 21
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 31 SRM
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 28 @ 68F

Ingredients
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00%

17lbs Pale Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 80.6 %
1.8 lbs Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 8.50 %
5 oz Roasted Barley (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.40 %
1lb CaraPils (1.50 SRM) Grain 4.7%

.6 oz Magnum [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 14 IBU
1 oz Willamette [5.8%] (30 min) Hops 7 IBU

12 oz Cocoa Powder, mixed with 1/3 gallon of water (Boil 10.0 min)
22.0 oz Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM) (Boil 8.0 min)
1 lb Cane Sugar (0.0 SRM) (Boil 55 min)
4.4 oz Moser Roth 85% Dark Chocolate Bars (? SRM) (Boil 55 min)
2 TSP Irish Moss (15 min)
2.5 TBSP PH water corrected into mash and sparge water

2 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) Yeast-Ale

Mash Profile

Single Infusion
60 min Mash In Add 7 gallons of water at 165 F 155.0 F
collected 4.67 gallons on mash out
Add 8 gallons of water at 179 F 171.0 F for sparge
collected 7.33 gallons of sparge runoff

As I type this, the airlocks are going crazy, meaning fermentation has been started. I am contemplating letting the fermenters sit for as long as 4 weeks since most of my research has led me to think that the aging may help the flavor profile. In addition, I am thinking of adding some ‘Creme de Cacao’ into the secondary to give a stronger chocolate aroma and add a bit of alcohol since I anticipate this batch coming a bit low.