How To Brew A Stout Beer

It’s nearing the end of the month and I have panic attacks when I go open up my almost empty fridge, which can only mean one thing… It’s time to brew the next batch.

After countless hours of racking my brain trying to come up with a) the style of beer I want to brew this time b)the recipe that’s sure to satisfy my taste buds and c)what I’m going to eat since I can’t use my kitchen on brewing nights, I decided I’m going to create the most intimidating pitch-black beer with a nice creamy head I’ve ever brewed… ’cause that’s what beer brewing geeks do…

In other words, I ended up opting for a stout so this will be quick since I’ve got to start cleaning up and getting stuff ready for brew day… the best time of the month (unless it coincides with my girlfriend’s other time of the month that is…)

Think stout beers are strong beers?

The problem is that it isn’t. Oh it sure feels like it. Crack open an ice cold one, pour into tall glass, invite over your buddies and make sure your woman is there to witness your workout for the week as you relentlessly execute a nice set of beer curls. One pint of beer later, you feel like you just drank a liquid meal… a real one, not the slim fast stuff.

Stout beers are really nothing more than a dark ale. Take the same base malt you use for your pale ales, add some dark specialty grains and you get a porter. Add some more specialty grains and you get a strong porter. Add even more specialty grains and you get a double strong porter, or a stout porter.

At least that’s how it was back in the day. Time however has transformed stout beers into a style in and of its own so you no longer can call it a “stout porter”… just a stout. It’s not that the beer police will come after you, or that you’ll get cut off at the bar for trying to sound smarter than the bartender… it’s just that stout porters don’t really exist anymore.

So here’s what happens. You add the same base malt as your pale ales which give you the fermentable sugars. Then you add the specialty grains which gives you the dark color and non-fermentable sugars. These non-fermentable sugars add density to the wort which is why you start out with a high specific gravity. But since only the base malt has fermentable sugars, the beer which seems like a strong beer, is nothing more than a dark and dense pale ale…. easily confused with an energy drink…

I’m not kidding, people used to drink stouts to keep up their energy as they loaded and unloaded stuff from ships and through out the streets in London and by the river porters, thus the name porter and stout porter.

The process is basically the same as brewing your pale ales. The only things I change is adding some Liquid Malt Extract (late addition) and I age the beer after bottling for three weeks… a period of time that’s tougher than missing the Superbowl, specially considering that my fridge will be needing a refill much sooner than that…

One last thing… keep in mind that you’ll start out with a high specific gravity (I’m calculating about 1.092 for tomorrow’s brew) so make sure your yeast has enough attenuation power to bring that down…

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