When my friend Scott (this Scott, not that Scott) noticed Topical Stout wasn’t on my list of styles brewed he suggested that we split a batch. Like daiquiris, sweetness and rummy flavors can go with warm weather, so it seemed like a version on the lower-gravity-end might be a good beer for the end of summer!
We started with Gordon Strong’s recipe from his BYO Style Profile (referencing the similar recipe in his Modern Homebrew Recipes). We used Irish Ale yeast because I had a slurry on hand harvested from my Guinness Anachronism Draught. Warm-fermented lager is classic for authentic Tropical Stouts because most of the breweries primarily brew lagers. We replaced the rather subtle turbinado sugar the recipe called for with more characterful dark muscovado. Increased proportion of simple sugars causes yeast to produce more esters so that may add to some of the traditional fruitiness of the style.
I’ve found that I get the best pours from the stout tap when carbonating and serving with ~20 PSI of beer gas. However, it can take a few weeks to really get that great creamy head given the low partial-pressure of carbon dioxide. To speed this up I attached a .5 micron carbonation stone with a foot of tubing to the gas side of this keg. A carb stone releases tiny gas bubbles which rise up through the beer, increasing surface area and boosting absorption. The key is to start the pressure low, increasing it by a few PSI a couple times a day. That ensures that the bubbles keep coming slowly, speeding up carbonation. There are other methods for using a stone, but this is easy and doesn’t waste gas. The only drawback is that you can’t purge the head space easily, so I just pushed in through the stone and vented a few times. To get around this you can also make (or buy) a carbonating keg lid that doesn't occupy the gas post. The result was a creamy head in about 10 days rather than three weeks!
Smell – The classic problem with beer gas, the nose is closed without much CO2 in solution to rise up carrying aromatics. What is there is nice, freshly milled roasted barley and coffee ice cream with Hershey’s syrup. No big fruitiness or rum/molasses notes.
Appearance – Head is stupendous! Creamy, off-white, and super-long-lasting. Black body, with a red underline at the bottom of the glass.
Taste – Flavor is similar but bigger than the aroma. Fresh roasted malt, mocha with a finish of date-sugar. Even a little vanilla or brownie batter. Sweet without being too cloying. Just enough bitterness to reset the palate in the finish.
Mouthfeel – Coating, rounded, smooth. Perfect!
Drinkability & Notes – Despite the provenance, this one hasn’t been drinking quickly this summer. The sweetness and richness just don’t call out for a second pour when the weather is this hot.
Changes for Next Time – I’m glad the gravity ended up a little low, but for a version closer to the guidelines it’d require better efficiency and a lower mash temperature for higher attenuation.
Batch Size: 12.00 gal
Final pH: 4.53
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 90 Mins
75.5% - 20 lbs Crisp Floor-Malted Maris Otter
3.8% - 1.0 lbs Weyermann Carafa Special III
3.8% - 1.0 lbs Muntons Roasted Barley
1.9% - 0.5 lbs Crisp Black
1.9% - 0.5 lbs Briess Crystal 120L
1.9% - 0.5 lbs Chateau Special B
1.9% - 0.5 lbs Bairds Chocolate Malt
9.4% - 2.5 lbs India Tree Dark Muscovado
Mash In - 45 min @ 158F
4.00 oz East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 6.00% AA) @ 60 min
6.00 g Calcium Chloride
5.00 g Chalk
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins
WY1084 Wyeast Irish Ale
Brewed 5/28/17 with Scott.
CaCl added to the mash tun before the malt. 1 cup of super-saturated chalk water (~5 g of chalk) added to the mash tun to try to raise the mash pH, didn't get much higher than it started, 5.25.
2.5 lbs of India Tree Dark Muscovado Sugar added at the start of the boil. ~14% by extract (Gordon's recipe is ~18% turbinado).
Undershot gravity a bit, was aiming for 1.070.
Hop pellets in 400 micron screen.
Chilled to 70, placed in fridge set to 64F for a couple hours before pitching a cup of thick slurry from low OG Guinness.
Maintained 64F beer temperature for 3 days, then up to 66F.
6/2/17 Moved out of fridge and allowed to warm to 70F to ensure fermentation finishes up. Currently: 1.028 (56% AA, 4.7% ABV)
6/7/17 Still 1.028... pitched a rehydrated pack of US-05.
6/10/17 Down to 1.023 (64% AA, 5.4% ABV), hopefully still dropping.
6/16/17 Nope, finished. Kegged.
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