Sweet Stout Request

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Sweet Stout Request

Postby turkeyjerky214 » Wed May 21, 2014 11:05 am

I've tried my hand at stout recipes a few times, but I still haven't brewed anything that really blew me away. I haven't tried many sweet stouts (Left Hand is the only one I can think of off the top of my head), so instead of trying to cobble a recipe together, I thought I'd check here to see if anyone has a tried and true recipe they wouldn't mind sharing.

I'm hoping to brew this Friday, so the sooner the better.

Thanks!
-Brian

On Tap: Sour Belgian Brown, Amber Ale, Milk Stout, English Dark Mild, American Brown, Vienna Lager

Fermenting: Roggenbier, Pumpkin Ale
Kegged: Dunkelweizen, Hefeweizen, Barleywine
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby seymour » Wed May 21, 2014 12:06 pm

I would recommend you start with your best stout recipe, formulated to the alcoholic strength you like, then add lactose to the late boil. I think 1/2 lb per 5 gallons is the best starting point. Many recipes call for a full pound, but I find that too sticky sweet. For what it's worth, the Milk Stouts/Sweet Stouts by Left Hand and Schlafly are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, Civil Life and Four Hands are less sweet. As with so many things, you can always add more, but you can't take it away.

I'm sure you realize lactose (milk-based sugar) is unfermentable by standard ale yeast, which is what leaves the residual sweetness in a sweet stout (except some Carribean stouts which back-sweeten with simple sugar after pasteurization, but I digress...) For this reason, your OG and FG measurements will be misleading. It'll feel like you're flying blind, and you'll have to trust your senses to know when it's done, but don't worry it'll turn-out great.

If you wanna avoid the guess-work, some brewers recommend brewing a stout entirely as usual, and once everything is complete to your satisfaction, then add some lactose pre-boiled in water for sterilization. But c'mon, where's the fun in that?! Plus, based on my experience, I believe the lactose still contributes something interesting to the fermentation chemistry, even though the sugars aren't all converted to alcohol in the traditional sense of the word.

Best of luck, and be sure to post back with your personal findings.

Cheers,
-Seymour
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby siwelwerd » Wed May 21, 2014 7:59 pm

seymour wrote:I would recommend you start with your best stout recipe, formulated to the alcoholic strength you like, then add lactose to the late boil.


I think you need a qualifier or two on that statement. If you take your favorite RIS recipe, and toss in some lactose, you don't get a milk stout. Similarly, if you take a dry stout recipe and throw in some lactose, it's most likely going to be too bitter, and lacking in the secondary malt notes you want in a sweet stout. If you're starting with an Oatmeal Stout, or maybe a Foreign Extra Stout, you might have better luck with that approach.

I used a recipe of Andy Laidlaw's last time I brewed a sweet stout, and I will again next time I do. It's a little on the bigger, sweeter end of the style, but I'm pretty sure he's won a number of medals with it. You might check with him and see if he's made any tweaks since he shared it with me. I'll go ahead and post it here since I don't know how often he checks the boards.

55% Domestic 2 row *
11% Lactose (this is about 1.5 lbs per 5 gallon batch)
8% Roasted Barley
6% Crystal 60
6% Chocolate
6% Munich *
5% Flaked Barley
4% Flaked Oats

*Instead of domestic two row and Munich, you can probably just go with a Maris Otter. I think this is what I did, actually

Target an OG of 1.069 (if you add the lactose to the boil). I prefer to add lactose at kegging because I don't like to have fun when I brew.

As with all stouts, watch your mash pH.
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby seymour » Thu May 22, 2014 7:59 am

Those are good suggestions, siwelserd.

You use a lot more lactose than me, proof that it's all a matter of taste, but I also should've said I use a low-attenuating English ale yeast (such as Windsor) for my table-strength stouts which leaves behind more body and sweetness to begin with, so I probably don't need as much lactose for an equal amount of perceived sweetness overall. Looking at your recipe, I assume you use a highly-attenuative yeast strain?
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby turkeyjerky214 » Thu May 22, 2014 11:56 am

I've always used Maris Otter in my stouts. I actually use it for most of my maltier beers now. Regarding the mash pH, I just use 5.2 stabilizer. Do you think that's sufficient, or should I be adjusting it manually? I got my Ward water report last year so I could start adjusting my water, but the numbers never added up correctly in any software or spreadsheets I tried them in. I finally just gave up out of frustration.

For hops, I'm assuming something like an EKG or Fuggles for bittering and then nothing for aroma?

How about yeast? I was planning on using WLP004 Irish Stout, but I haven't been by the store yet so I could still change that.

What do you mash this at, Drew? I'm thinking around 148º so it dries out a little and isn't too overly sweet from the lactose.

Being a stout (and with proper pitching rate, oxygen, and yeast nutrients), I'm guessing the turnaround time on this should be pretty quick. Maybe primary for two weeks, crash, keg, on tap a few days later? Or do I need to let it sit a little bit for the lactose to meld?
-Brian

On Tap: Sour Belgian Brown, Amber Ale, Milk Stout, English Dark Mild, American Brown, Vienna Lager

Fermenting: Roggenbier, Pumpkin Ale
Kegged: Dunkelweizen, Hefeweizen, Barleywine
Lagering: Märzen, Doppelbock, Düsseldorf Alt
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby seymour » Thu May 22, 2014 1:12 pm

turkeyjerky214 wrote:...For hops, I'm assuming something like an EKG or Fuggles for bittering and then nothing for aroma?

How about yeast? I was planning on using WLP004 Irish Stout, but I haven't been by the store yet so I could still change that...


You're right, English hops would be most authentic, but you're also right there is typically only a full boil bittering addition so it doesn't matter too much which variety you use. Fuggle would be great if you've got 'em. I usually use a relatively high English variety like Challenger, Northern Brewer, Northdown. Believe it or not, my best Milk Stout so far used only Cluster hops.

Yeast is your call, too, and will play a big part in how relatively sweet or dry your stout ends up (and the turnaround time you asked about too.)

For point of reference:

Left Hand uses Magnum hops for bittering, a little late Goldings, and Wyeast 1272 American Ale II yeast

Civil Life uses Chinook hops for bittering only and their house British Ale yeast, akin to the relatively low-attenuating strain used by the original 1907 Mackeson Milk Stout. This is an important point: historical Milk Stout/Sweet Stouts were not highly attenuated to begin with.

Schlafly usually uses Polish Magnum or Marynka hops for bittering only and Wyeast 1028 English Ale yeast
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby siwelwerd » Thu May 22, 2014 5:23 pm

turkeyjerky214 wrote: Regarding the mash pH, I just use 5.2 stabilizer. Do you think that's sufficient, or should I be adjusting it manually?


I don't know enough about how 5.2 works to offer any advice there. To me, 5.2 is a black box,and most of the time most people like what comes out... except when they don't.

I agree with Seymour, I think he is spot on that you need to balance your yeast strain, lactose addition, and mash temp. I used the nicely attenuating 001/1056/US05 strain, along with a single infusion mash at 151. Keep in mind, there are subtle differences between lactose, dextrins left in the mash by a higher mash temp, and shorter chain fermentable sugars left behind by a lower attenuating yeast. I think a lower attenuating yeast like 002 might be a little more traditional, in which case back off on the lactose some. If you want an English strain to use with that recipe as is, maybe the dry Whitbread strain 007 would be a good choice.

For hops, go with something neutral or English. Chinook is typically not neutral as a bittering hop, and you will probably get dinged in a competition if there is a detectable American hop character (unless they broaden the style up a bit with the new guidelines). That said, don't let style guidelines handcuff you, just be aware if you are entering. I prefer something neutral like Magnum. Horizon is also a great choice, as are Challenger, Target, or even EKG or Fuggles.

One caveat on Northern Brewer: it is now grown all over the place, not just in England, and is not always labeled as non-English they way US Goldings are. There are subtle differences based on where it's grown.

As far as turnaround, I think you could drink this in 3-4 weeks, but it will probably peak around 8.
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby turkeyjerky214 » Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:18 pm

I'm finally ready to keg this beer, and I've got a couple questions.

1. How do I go about adding the lactose? If I do the "boil it in water for 15 minutes" method, how much water would you recommend? I'm afraid of using too much and diluting the final product.

2. Once it's kegged, do I just hook it up to the CO2 like normal and then switch it over to the beer gas tank once it's carbed? Any recommendations on a pressure setting for the beer gas? I have a regular C02 carbonation chart, but I have no idea at what kind of pressure beer gas should be set.
-Brian

On Tap: Sour Belgian Brown, Amber Ale, Milk Stout, English Dark Mild, American Brown, Vienna Lager

Fermenting: Roggenbier, Pumpkin Ale
Kegged: Dunkelweizen, Hefeweizen, Barleywine
Lagering: Märzen, Doppelbock, Düsseldorf Alt
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Re: Sweet Stout Request

Postby siwelwerd » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:02 pm

turkeyjerky214 wrote:1. How do I go about adding the lactose?


Be sure to stir well. If you don't, the lactose can crystallize at the bottom of your keg and clog up your dip tube. Ask me how I know :)
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