Let’s start this off with a quick history lesson shall we? According to the BJCP in regards to a sweet stout: “An English style of stout developed in the early 1900s. Historically known as “Milk” or “Cream” stouts, legally this designation is no longer permitted in England (but is acceptable elsewhere). The “milk” name is derived from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener. Originally marketed as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers.”
This is my first attempt at a milk stout, or rather properly called, a sweet stout. I have added chocolate though before, but my attempt at adding it had mixed results for me, mainly when I added it with no real research on the consequences (dip tube holes are small it keeps turning out). I used the same kind of chocolate this time as well (Hershey’s Powder Cocoa), but added it at a different time in the process. This however is my first time using lactose in the boil, which I added the last 10 minutes. I’ve heard of brewers adding it in the secondary, but I imagine it would have to be boiled and dissolved first.
For the chocolate I made a paste with some hot water (the chocolate needs to have as little fat as possible as fat can kill head retention. This had .5 g total fat…which should be low enough?). I then added some oak cubes to the paste as well (that were boiled for a few minutes ahead of time to reduce tannins). After the chocolate goop cooled down to room temperature, I added it all to the secondary.
It should be noted that I ended up getting better efficiency than planned. Sweet stouts are supposed to be in the 4%-6% ABV range, where mine will be 6% and maybe a little higher. It’s not the end of the word, but I wanted it lower in alcohol.
The yeast I used (WLP810 San Francisco Lager) will drop the gravity down farther than a less attenuating yeast (like an English strain for example). Why use the WLP810 yeast then you ask? Because it’s what I had around and I hate buying yeast with how much I brew. I should do it right though, so don’t follow my terrible example.
Batch Size: 2 Gallons
Est ABV: 6.3%
Boil Time: 60 Min
4.2 lbs (68.9%) – 2-Row
8.8 oz (9%) – Flaked Oats
5.9 oz (6.1%) – Flaked Barley
5 oz (5.2%) – Lactose (10 minutes left in boil)
4.5 oz (4.6%) – Carafa III (added last 10 minutes left in the mash)
3 oz (3.1%) – Crystal 60L
3 oz (3.1%) – Special B
60 Min @ 153F
.30 oz Challenger (9.6% AA) @ 50 Min
WLP810 San Francisco Lager
1g of CALC added to the mash water. Added all the water needed to the mash. Collected 3 gallons at 1.038. Cooled and put the entire slurry from the 1 gallon WLP810 San Francisco Lager “training the palate” yeast experiment.
10/30/16: No activity.
10/31/16: Activity, but not raging by any means. Kind of a slow yeast start. Not ideal. The temp is at 64F.
11/15/16: Added 1 oz of Hershey’s Powder Cocoa (made into a paste) and 3 oak cubes (.20 oz) that soaked in whiskey for a year, which was then boiled for a few minutes.
12/12/16 Tasting notes:
Right off the bat it has a weird sorta banana eatery thing going on in the nose, which is odd as I fermented it within the temps range. It’s possible my pitching rates were off a little, which if pitched rates are a little too low esters are more likely to happen. I did put a whole slurry from a 1 gallon beer to a 2 gallon beer, so there is that. I also used a lager yeast, where I should have used an English strain.
As far as the chocolate flavor goes, it’s ok. I don’t think there’s enough and it kind of falls flat. This is the second time I’ve used cocoa powder, and both times I have not been too happy with the results. It doesn’t have that strong upfront flavor, but is really hidden at the end. It could be the amount I used too, and it’s possible I didn’t use enough.
As far as the milk, or “sweet stout” side of it goes it’s also lacking. It could be fuller, creamier and a bit sweeter. The head retention also doesn’t hold like I want it to.
That all being said, as a whole it’s ok, but not totally what I was going for, and I whiffed on a few areas. It’s dark, it has come chocolate to it, the banana is also fading some, and it’s still warming on a freezing 60F Southern California night (and for nursing mothers).
I just made a second version of this, and the main changes I made were: Used cocoa nibs, used an English strain, got it a bit darker, and bumped up the flaked oats and barley some.