So, I am brewing up an oatmeal stout at the moment. It’s based on Randy Mosher’s “Black Pirate Ship Stout” recipe, from the book Radical Brewing, which some kind soul input at Hopville here. The concept of this beer is a dark stout–though I held back on the black patent malt, and it won’t be quite as black as Mosher’s, I think–laced with a punch of spices. However, I was making this for Miss Jiwaku, who is a fan of stouts and who asked me to make a beer with a lower alcohol level so she could enjoy more of it. (An understandable request, giving the slightly higher alcohol levels of the Belgian beers I’ve been making lately.)
The beer is named “gentle” because it’s a bit milder on the alcohol level — and thus also milder on the bittering and on the black patent malt. The “Haejeok” part of the name (Anglophones will say it “Hey-juck”) is the Korean name for pirate, though in fact the beer has more Indonesian flair than Korean. But I am branding my homebrew “Wonmi 山” (“Wonmisan,” ie. “Wonmi Mountain”) so a Korean name is still appropriate.
The recipe, for those interested, is here. Here are some thoughts on the decisions I made, and on the process:
- The “caramelized wort” is really just a kind of mild caramelized glop of the drippings from the spent grain, as I let it drain before passing it on to my friend Mark (who uses them for composting/wormery stuff). I boiled the extra, weak wort till it caramelized into a dark gooey syrup, and added it to the boil.
- The hop schedule is basically taken from the posted version of Mosher’s recipe. I tinkered a bit to get a bitterness balance fitting this milder beer, and also to make it possible to get the right bitterness from the amounts of Styrian Goldings and Willamette that I had on hand.
- The molasses are some organic blackstrap molasses (from Whole Foods) that I brought back from the USA a little over a year ago. I need to use them up anyway, but the need to use them up drove me to choose a dark, dark stout recipe like this.
- I screwed up the mash dough-in temp again. I must remember: the markings on the thermometer built into my mash-lauter tun (which is my brewpot, incidentally) are such that I need to stop and think before assuming I know what temp I’m seeing. So my OG may be a bit out of whack, in which case I’ll be adding some dark candi sugar (the simple black sucrose rocks I made a long time ago) if need be.
- I seem to like doing Pilsner/Munich malt recipes. I’d like to experiment with Vienna, or with Munich as a base malt. I need to move away from using the mostly-pilsner-plus-some-munich formulation too much, I think, even though I’m enjoying watching how different yeasts work on that combination.
- I figured I’d try the Cry Havoc yeast, and see how it goes. If it works out for me, I’ll be doing up a slightly heavier (but likely small batch of) a IPA (with some Citra in it, maybe?) on a portion of the yeast cake, and sharing out samples of the rest with whoever wants some locally. I tried to make a starter, but it isn’t doing anything; if Cry Havoc didn’t make it, I think I’ll have to pitch the Cream Ale yeast I have handy. (Though, again, no starter; if Cry Havoc fails to take off, I may take the time to do a starter on the Cream Ale, as I don’t have any other appropriate yeasts — unless I do up a Belgian yeast-based Stout? Never heard of that sort of thing before, but it might work…)
- The “Sour Beer, Stale” of which I’m adding 600 ml is from the “mash aigre” batch I posted about here. It’s from a fresh bottle that turned out a lot more blond (and a lot more drinkable, if still too acidic) after being aged a few months and cold conditioned. I found a bottle of it, which somehow hadn’t carbonated (or held its carbonation) and measured out the exact amount. I’ll add it at flameout, so that it’s pasteurized but hopefully at least a little of the alcohol content remains. (So I’m not watering down the brew, in other words.) I figure the sourness will interact nicely with the spices, highlighting them. I just hope it’s not overpowered by the hops. And yes, it’s 3% of the total volume, in the same proportion that Guinness adds sour stale beer to its wort. (Though I hope mine turns out with a little more character than Guinness.)
- The spices, of course, make sense if you think of pirates and their journeys of early globalization during the age of empires. The original recipe calls for allspice, which I don’t have on hand, so I’m substituting nutmeg (ground, though I could have used crushed whole nutmeg/marjoram pods) and a small amount of cloves. I also substituted crushed Balinese long pepper for ground black pepper, a little Indonesian flair for Miss Jiwaku. I think instead of adding the orange peel at bottling, I’ll steep it as a tea for a few days or a week at the end of the secondary fermentation, and then bottle after that. The spicing is not supposed to be too overpowering: you should sense some spiciness, but not be able to identify too many of the particular spices.
- I have the (dried) bitter orange peel on order right now. I’m not sure when it will arrive, but it’s to come packed in among the next wave of malts I’ll be using. I think I may add soak it in some vodka, along with some oak chips, and then add it in after a week’s soak. (Because the vodka will extract the flavor from the orange peel and sanitize the oak chips without adding much flavor-wise, since after all it’s just vodka.)
That’s it for now. I think my next recipe will be another attempt at a Dubbel, same recipe as last time, but scaled-up for a 5-gallon batch, and using a different Belgian yeast. That said, I have a batch of Brett going and will also be wanting to do another ale, maybe an IPA, on part of the cake that grows up from this beer.
Which means, frankly, I have a lot of bottling to do (hopefully, much of it to be done this Friday afternoon and night, and Sunday morning), because I have three beers ready to bottle and no 5-gallon carboys empty. (And a couple of those beers, I’d like to enter in the Homebrewkorea Brewfest, even if they will still be a little green still by then.) Now is one of those times when I wish I’d switched to kegging long ago. It sounds like a bad idea now, but it would have saved me a lot of pain in the ass if I had switched while it was still practicable.
Ah, speaking of which:
- I picked up a kilo of frozen bokbunja (wild black raspberries) and I’ll be racking about a gallon or so of my Abbey Wheat onto it. I also plan to rack another gallon or so of that batch onto a couple of kilos of persimmons I picked up a while back, which are still frozen. I should do that this week, but to do that, I need to bottle the JAO batch I made months ago, in order to have a couple of one-gallon fermenters available.
- My Belgian Pale Ale is ready to bottle.
- My Suddenly Sour Cream Ale is ready to bottle, too. I’ve now figured out I must have gotten a friendly pediococcus bug from the fresh (but steamed) lemongrass I added back in the spring. In any case, it’s nicely (ie. mildly, and inoffensively) sour, clear as crystal, and very drinkable. I figure I should preserve some of the beer in a test tube, since one never knows when one might want to inoculate with pedio on purpose… especially when one also has some Brettanomyces on hand too.
- It’s time to try make some mead: I have four kilos of clover honey, and some dry mead yeast waiting for action. And since making mead isn’t really more demanding than making beer (except in terms of patience, since it has to age so long) I figure I may as well give it a shot, even if the bottles won’t really be coming into their own by March…
UPDATE: Missed the volume and added some sterilized water before fermentation began. It was petering out today, but the spice was too strong for the amount of alcohol, the body, and the bitterness, so I boiled up 650 grams of Amber DME and added that. Fermentation has recommenced apace. This should be ready to rack to secondary in a few days, though. So I should think of what to brew up to dump onto half the yeast cake. It’s not quite cold enough to try out the Cry Havoc as a lager yeast yet, so I am thinking maybe some kind of Pale Ale (of the Indian sort) would be nice.