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Whats makes-or-breaks your stouts?

Just polling the audience. I can approach most beer styles with confidence, but I always get a little trepidation when this brew pops up in the list.

A good craft stout is like a good cup of coffee for me. I only want one or two so it needs that strong taste and something to relax with. I tend to add a little more roasted barley to add the “espresso quality” to give it that kick. It also makes for the base of my brunch stout, milk stout, etc.

A mild stout just tastes like something is missing or lacking. If it is too tame the satisfaction is just not there. Guinness is my example. It is a good quality stout but after awhile I just became too used to how mild of a stout it really is and needed something more to make a stout really standout.

For my stouts, I like to mix the dark ingredients. So, I like to do things like 50:50 Pale Chocolate and Roasted Barley. In my last stout I also used Brown Malt at about 10% of the grist, and am enjoying it immensely. When it is just roasted barley, I find it to be a little one dimensional, IMO.

mash temp

For me, Guinness defines stout. I’m not talking about draught Guinness…forget that stuff. While refreshing as a summer drink, it is a latter day concoction from the 1960s that pales next to regular bottled Guinness Extra and especially next to the Foreign Extra, both of which carry a bit more heft.

I like the mildly sour lactic tang that Guinness offers, so when I make my stout I’ll always add a small percentage of pasteurized, soured beer to the batch after the ferment is done (it doesn’t need to be soured stout for the addition…pretty much any soured beer works fine). It’s that bit of character that I find sorely lacking in most American craft wannabe stouts. Most of them seem to go overboard with the roast character as well, lacking any kind of balance.

[quote=“The Professor”]For me, Guinness defines stout. I’m not talking about draught Guinness…forget that stuff. While refreshing as a summer drink, it is a latter day concoction from the 1960s that pales next to regular bottled Guinness Extra and especially next to the Foreign Extra, both of which carry a bit more heft.

I like the mildly sour lactic tang that Guinness offers, so when I make my stout I’ll always add a small percentage of pasteurized, soured beer to the batch after the ferment is done (it doesn’t need to be soured stout for the addition…pretty much any soured beer works fine). It’s that bit of character that I find sorely lacking in most American craft wannabe stouts. Most of them seem to go overboard with the roast character as well, lacking any kind of balance.[/quote]

very good point…adding a soured stout to the batch does give it that guinness twang that is lacking in alot of american stouts…very good point…i sour a 22 of guinness for a week and freeze it until i use it and i add it to the boil at 1 min left

American stouts really don’t standout when compared to most Irish stouts but if I wanted a Guinness I would go out and buy a Guinness.

I think sour beer is a novelty but as an addition it sounds rather interesting. Do you brew your own sour beer and how much do you add to your stout? Do you add sour beer to any other of your brews?

[quote=“TheNerdyGnome”]American stouts really don’t standout when compared to most Irish stouts but if I wanted a Guinness I would go out and buy a Guinness.

I think sour beer is a novelty but as an addition it sounds rather interesting. Do you brew your own sour beer and how much do you add to your stout? Do you add sour beer to any other of your brews?[/quote]

I brew sours (lambic style) but dont add that…simply leave a 22oz of guinness out for a week or so until it gets soured and add it to the end of the boil to get that twang…thats what i do

[quote=“TheNerdyGnome”]American stouts really don’t standout when compared to most Irish stouts but if I wanted a Guinness I would go out and buy a Guinness.

I think sour beer is a novelty but as an addition it sounds rather interesting. Do you brew your own sour beer and how much do you add to your stout? Do you add sour beer to any other of your brews?[/quote]

I don’t know that sour beer is a novelty, certainly a trend. I would a imagine many beers hundreds of years ago were sour.

As far as dry stouts, I pull off a qt. of wort, add a bit of 2-row, and cover with cheesecloth until kegging. Strain, pasteurize, and add to the keg.
Souring beer works as well.

I’m told that, considering the storage available 100-200 years ago—wood casks and barrels most likely infected/infused with some kind of bacteria—most non-mild beers ended up somewhat sour.

[quote=“Silentknyght”][quote=“mrv”]
I don’t know that sour beer is a novelty, certainly a trend. I would a imagine many beers hundreds of years ago were sour.

[/quote]

I’m told that, considering the storage available 100-200 years ago—wood casks and barrels most likely infected/infused with some kind of bacteria—most non-mild beers ended up somewhat sour.[/quote]

Yup. As an anecdote, “Brettanomyces” comes from the Latin for “British yeast”. Which should say something about what porters & stout porters tended to taste like a couple hundred years ago.

Pasteur’s swan-neck flask experiment wasn’t until 1862. Before that, the basic knowledge someone would need to even think of brewing beer with pure cultures like we do nowadays simply didn’t exist. And the technology to seal beer in a good airtight container didn’t come along until nearly 1900.

I would wager the main reason homebrewers have issues with stouts is not adjusting water for the acidity of all the dark grain used. Night and day difference.

I find the mystery surrounding wild and sour beers intriguing but prefer my stouts without bugs, like Murphy’s.

Go on…

Now there’s a good stout! :cheers:

I didn’t start making really good stouts until I used a higher mash temp and pH of around 5.6.

+1 beat me to it… :cheers:

How much higher? Upper 150s?

  • strive for as much body as possible-- high mash temps and lots of crystal malts
  • Use a high character yeast like London or British Ale
  • Mix dark grains- Roasted Barley, Chocolate, and Black Patent
  • Balance the dark grains carefully… this is really the hardest part and takes some trial and error.

[quote=“The Professor”]For me, Guinness defines stout. I’m not talking about draught Guinness…forget that stuff. While refreshing as a summer drink, it is a latter day concoction from the 1960s that pales next to regular bottled Guinness Extra and especially next to the Foreign Extra, both of which carry a bit more heft.

I like the mildly sour lactic tang that Guinness offers, so when I make my stout I’ll always add a small percentage of pasteurized, soured beer to the batch after the ferment is done (it doesn’t need to be soured stout for the addition…pretty much any soured beer works fine). It’s that bit of character that I find sorely lacking in most American craft wannabe stouts. Most of them seem to go overboard with the roast character as well, lacking any kind of balance.[/quote]

What’s the process you use to add a soured pasteurized beer? About how much% ? I’d like to give it a try

[quote=“stompwampa”][quote=“airlocksniffer”]
How much higher? Upper 150s?[/quote][/quote]
The first really good stout I made was mashed at 156 with a pH of 5.6. The OG was 1.061 and FG was 1.014, fermented w/US-05. I really think the pH adjustment is what did the trick. Prior batches w/o the pH higher always seems to lack body, even when mashed higher. BTW, I use slaked lime to increase pH as you don’t need a lot like you do with chalk, which always made my beers taste (surprise!), chalky.

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