The Adjective Stout 2014

This is an annual beer I have made with a friend since I started brewing back in 2012. A stout was the first all-grain beer I made with him, so this was a tradition we decided to continue annually. Of course I can’t just make a stout without doing something weird with it, especially early on in my exploration into the beer making world. We’ve all been there.

I got the idea for what became known as the Adjective Stout from Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing book where a recipe called for salt, pepper, bourbon, vanilla, anise, cinnamon, and coriander…that’s a lot of adjectives before the word “stout” appears. Hardy fucking har. It honestly could lean more on the Holiday Ale side of things, but regardless it’s a beer with things in it that do things with flavor.

We wanted to take it one step further and smoke a portion of the grains. The “proper” way to smoke grain employs the use of a mesh screen like this one. I was lazy and didn’t want to make that, so I opted to use a Weber tin drip pan kinda like so.

I don’t have a smoker, but I made do with a regular charcoal grill. Here is my method for smoking the grains for this particular batch:

1. Soaked a bunch of hickory wood chips for a few hours in water.
2. Poked a bunch of holes in the bottom of the drip pan with a pin.
3. Lit the coals and put them to one side (only a few handfuls).
4. Added the soaked oaked chips to the coals and put the drip pan to the other side.
5. Put 25% of the grain bill in the drip pan.
6. Covered the grill and let the grains smoke for one hour spraying them occasionally with water.

I ended up adding another 25%of the grain bill (1/2 total of the grain bill) for another 20 minutes because I was worried it wouldn’t be enough, but honestly I think only 20% of the grain bill for an hour would be fine for the future.

I kept the dark grains and light grains separate because I prefer adding the dark grains at when I start recirculating the wort to help with pH and lessen possible tannin extraction. I also usually don’t mill anything flaked, but that’s because it’s good to go as is, not for other reasons.


Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Target OG: 1.049
SRM: 28
Est ABV: 5%
IBU: 41
Boil Time: 90

71.8% – 2-Row
12.4% – Barley, Flaked (unmilled)
7.4% – Roasted Barley
5% – Acid Malt (Did this because I added the dark grains at vourlof)
3.5% – Chocolate Malt

2.00 oz East Kent Goldings (14% AA) @ 60 Min
5 oz of bourbon (Bulleit) @ 10 Min
2 oz of vodka @ 10 Min
1/2 table spoon of powdered cinnamon @ 10 Min
1/2 tsp of allspice @ 10 Min
1 tablespoon of powdered coriander @ 10 Min
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract @ 10 Min
A pinch of salt and pepper @ 10 Min

Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 11/8/14

The smack pack was activated the night before. Made a 1L starter in the morning.

The water was 50% carbon filtered tap, 50% distilled.

Mashed in only 2-row and flaked barley in at 150F degrees, held for 75 minutes, and added the dark grains the last 10 minutes before first vorlauf. Collected a little over 6 gallons of 1.035 pre-boil wort. The OG was 1.053.

11/9/14: Good strong fermentation. Fermenting this at 67F degrees. It looks like this yeast strain will have less esters at 64F degrees, so we’ll see if that’s accurate.

11/15/14: Gravity still at 1.014.

11/17/14: Felt like it needed more spices. Added 1 more tablespoon of cinnamon and 3 more oz of bourbon (Bulleit). Bottled 2 gallons with 1.9 vols of CO2 and put .8 oz of oak cubes on 2 gallons.

11/25/14: Added two more oak cubes.

12/10/14: Bottled oaked version with 2.1 vols of CO2.

12/21/14 Tasting notes:

Non-oaked version: No head on it, but it’s carbed. The smoke flavor is good, but perhaps a bit too much. The spices aren’t as prevalent except for the cinnamon (which is a hair strong), despite adding more at the end. If the head on this ends up thin, perhaps it’s because we added bourbon and cinnamon right before bottling. Particles floating around in beer can hurt head retention. I think this proved to be true with the next-year’s batch with chocolate. Also I think this yeast is a bit too estery for the spices. It is a hair clashing.

The oaked version: Just the right amount of carbonation. The smell is oaky, with bourbon and a touch of smoke. The oak comes more in the flavor, and probably a bit too much actually. I’d dial back the oak slightly.


If using this recipe again: More spices in the boil, but dial back the cinnamon some. I personally would like to get this creamier, maybe more flaked barely or use flaked oats instead and/or add lactose to the boil. Change the yeast as I think this one’s a bit too estery for what we were going for.

I ended up changing this entirely for 2015.

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