Anyway… this beer came about last year when I realized that Saint Patrick’s Day, to many (non-German leaning beer fans), the biggest beer day on the calendar was not something I had previously considered brewing for. An Irish Dry Stout seemed like the perfect solution. I had no plans for a Saint Patrick’s Day party or anything like that, it just seemed appropriate to have the beer available this time of year.
At the time, all of my batches were partial mash using the brew in a bag method. My interpretation of BIAB involved a five gallon paint strainer bag which limited me to about eight pounds of grains and normally got me about 60% efficiency. I plan to revisit BIAB soon for some low gravity all grain beers with some new ideas I’ve read about to improve efficiency.
But, for this brew I used eight and a half pounds of malt and pound and a half of DME to get an OG of 1.044 in a five gallon batch. I tried to stick to a traditional grist with one extra addition. I added half a pound of special roast because I find that it adds a certain zing which reminds me of the sourness found in Guinness.
Guinness is (or at least once was) a blended beer. A small percentage of the final beer was a special sour brew. It is rumored that the sour beer is double strength and lactic fermented. You can imitate this by taking a small amount of the mash out, grains and all, and saving it for a week to sour, then boiling it and adding it into the fermentor with the rest of the beer. I’d like to try this some day, but was not ready to mess with sour beers yet when I brewed Grimmuss. It is not the same, but special roast adds a tang that was as close as I could get. Ultimately, I don’t think it did much to help or hurt the beer. The fluffy head on this beer was lovely. It wasn’t highly carbonated, but the flaked barley gives it foam that looks great, a tan cap on top of the jet black beer.
My hop schedule, on the other hand was a mistake. I added two charges of Target hops, an ounce each at the beginning of the boil and fifteen minutes before the end. This gave me the appropriate bitterness, IBU’s in the low 40’s, but way too much hop flavor. I have since learned that I’m not crazy about Target hops’ flavor, but you really don’t want any hop flavor in a dry stout. I was surprised to see how bitter these beers are. They’re so smooth and already get roasty bitterness from the grains, so it’s easy to ignore the hop bitterness. One large addition at the beginning of the boil is definitely the way to go. Despite being relatively low gravity, I found that this beer got much better after several months of aging in the bottle because the hop flavor when it was fresh not appropriate for the style. It faded and the beer was improved.
I opted to stick with my go to ale yeast, Nottingham rather than springing for a specialty yeast. After reading about Irish Ale yeast, it just didn’t seem necessary. I have read that it doesn’t go as dry and can be finicky if you don’t have the correct temperatures. Nottingham has never failed me. It finishes dry and clean. It is not as estery as Irish Ale, but I’m fine with that for this beer. I would keep this in future attempts at the style.
The hop problem was a learning experience that kept this from being a truly successful brew, but it was still enjoyable. I look forward to trying this style again with that lesson, my new all grain system and maybe a lactic twist.
Style: 13A: Dry Stout
Brew Date: 2/6/2013
Serve Date: 3/9/2013
BIAB: 5 lb. Maris Otter
2 lb. Flaked Barley
1 lb. Roasted Barley
.5 lb. Special Roast
Extract: 1.5 lb. Dark DME
60 min 1 oz. UK Target
15 min 1 oz. UK Target
1 packet rehydrated Nottingham Dry yeast.