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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sweet Stout Production

5 lbs Specialty Grains
 Hello all!  I'm going to walk you through my latest batch of beer I created on July 9, 2011.  It is a sweet stout sometimes referred to as a milk or cream stout because of the addition of lactose which makes for a smooth and creamy mouth feel.
I started with 5 lbs of specialty grains which I purchased from The Brew Hut and milled it at the store.  Milling is a process of crushing grain between rollers to expose the insides where all the sugars are maintained.  We need those to get into our wort so our yeast will have some good eats.  The specialty grains also add color, body, and flavor to our wort.

Heating some water

 Here I am heating the water to a temperature of about 165 F so when I place the grains in the temp will drop to about 152 F for optimum extraction of sugars.  Proper temperatures must be maintained to ensure the best possible product.  If the temperature is too high, over 170 F some tannins may be leeched from the grain and hulls causing that drying, tongue biting feeling, often associated with red wines.  We don't want that!

Steeping the Grain

    The grains are steeping nicely!  As you can see some color is imparted almost instantly as the grains meet the water.  I steep the grains for 30 minutes, then remove from the wort.  I don't wring the grain socks as that can leech the tannins and astringents in to the wort.  I just let them drip until it slows almost to a stop.  

Boiling the wort

 Now we get rolling!  To a gentle boil that is!  I bring the temperature of the wort up and add any adjuncts that I need in my wort.  Things like hops for bittering and flavor, lactose, any other sugars, herbs, spices, malt extracts either liquid concentrate or dry powder form, etc.  The boil will last 60 minutes.  Hops can be added in separate additions throughout the entire boil.  A teaspoon of Irish Moss is usually added with 15 minutes left on the boil.  Irish Moss is dried seaweed that is used as a clarifying agent that assists in removal of excess proteins.

Ready for fermentation

I've cooled the wort to 68 F and added enough water to make 5 gallons.  I use a dry yeast and pitch it directly onto the surface of the wort, wait for 30 minutes, then aerate using a gentle swirling motion.  The yeast will become active in 24 to 48 hours and a krausen, will form.  It is a dirty looking froth on the surface of the beer that is formed as the yeast are doing their work.  The beer will start swirling with activity and sometimes it is fun just to watch!  Temperature from this point on is crucial!  The recommended temperature for ales is 65-75 F.  If the temperture gets above 75 F then the risk of of "hot" alcohol flavors may present.  Too cool and the yeast will become dormant and go to sleep.

Active Fermentation

As you can see, there is a murky krausen formed.  We are in active fermentation.  The yeast will devour the sugars in the beer producing alcohol and carbon dioxide as by products.  As the sugar level in the beer drops, the yeast will become less active and settle out.  Some remain suspended in the beer which we will need later at bottling time for final conditioning or carbonating.  The yeast will settle out to the bottom of the bottle after carbonation.

More to come soon!  

Hi all!  Sorry it's been a few days.  Life you know?  Anyhow, the Sweet Stout production continues in the secondary fermenter.  The yeast is still active after 5 days in the secondary, and should start slowing soon.  We should be able to bottle this weekend, and of course I'll take a little taste to be sure we're on track!  I'll post more pictures soon also.  Thanks for reading!

O.k. follow up on the Sweet Stout.  I thought I was going to have carbonation problems, but after moving the beer to a warmer location in the house, it is starting to carbonate better after only 2 days.  I'll check again in a week, then in two weeks.  Bottoms up!

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