Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tropical Stout with Muscovado

Getting ready to add the muscavado sugar.When I tell people I brewed a Tropical Stout, most of them assume that means I added tropical fruit and/or hops to a standard stout. On the contrary, this is a style originating in the tropics (specifically the Caribbean and Southeast Asia). The most widely available examples are Lion Stout, Dragon Stout, and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout from Jamaica. Prior to the release of the 2015 BJCP Guidelines the style was rolled into Foreign Export Stout with the drier/bitterer stouts brewed in England and Ireland.

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!

Ashton Lewis, Gordon Strong, and Me at the BYO Boot Camp panel.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!

Carb stone, before filling the keg.

Caribbean Stout

That cascade...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
SRM: 43.7
IBU: 33.8
OG: 1.064
FG: 1.023
ABV: 5.4%
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.

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing!

Never settle...


Unknown said...

Could you pitch Champagne yeast to get the finishing gravity lower? Would that be a good idea?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Champagne yeast can be helpful for high alcohol beers because of its tolerance, but it isn't especially attenuative when the issue is complex sugars. In an average gravity wort US-05 will finish much lower than a wine strain that only had to ferment simple sugars in it's niche.

Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

I'm planning on attaching a carb stone to the keg post too. Was it a pain in the butt to attach the hose to the gas dip tube? Did you use a regular clamp? Would you mind describing your process a bit?


Chris said...

Long time reader, first time post-er.
In the first photo you've got a hop spider with some tubing going into it. Are you recirc-ing through it by any chance. If so how well does it work for work clarification at the end of boil?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Major pain to attach the tubing to the post with oetiker clamps. The cut on my finger is mostly healed now... get the tubing warmed up with hot water and wiggle it on.

I transfer into it to catch any grain particulate coming over to the kettle. Then I clean it out before adding the hops. For hoppy beers I'll recirculate through it, but more to keep the hops moving than to clarify (especially given the haze currently in vogue).

Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

Interested in getting a creamy head on my English Mild that I just made. You mentioned using a diffusion stone to speed up the process. I am not constrained by time, I just want to get the mouth feel right on this beer. Any suggestions on how to get my beer close to how your tropical stout looked? Because it looks amazing.

Thanks in advance.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

This beer was served on beer gas (a mixture or nitrogen and CO2) through a stout faucet featuring a restrictor plate. Without those two things there isn't a way to get the same cascading bubbles and silky head. There are some people who say you can get close by taking a syringe and shooting a jet of beer into the glass to get it to foam up, but I haven't tried that. Plenty of other ways to improve head retention (e.g., I'm adding tetra iso-alpha extract to a peach sour beer this weekend in an attempt to increase head retention).

dueler said...

What do you think of using candy sugar like D-180 or D-240 instead turbinado?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've added dark candi syrup to my Courage Russian Imperial Stout clone with great results. The fruitiness could certainly go well with the crystal malts, but it wouldn't be authentic (if you care).

dueler said...

I wouldn't care :)
I really want to try this recipe with D-240, do you think with 1lb is enough?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've only used the D-90 and D-180 so I can't say, but it'd be a fine beer even without the sugar so I'm sure it'll be tasty with it (even if it isn't a prominent flavor).

Unknown said...

On this beer you had a mash pH of 5.2ish. Is that mash temp? I know you use the blue tooth pH meter right in the mash sometimes.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I didn't make a note of it, but this was right after I got my Halo... so it probably was at mash temperature. Closer to 5.4 if you are reading at room temperature.

Anonymous said...

What do you think about using for fermentation some kveik yeast (with average esters production, not fruit bomb)?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Would be fun if you don't care about authenticity. I'd opt for a low attenuator though, a stout like this wouldn't be great if it was really dry!

Eric said...

For what it's worth I brewed a somewhat sorta kinda similar stout with some Omega Voss kviek yeast slurry. Delicious. I've had solid luck with using Voss with stouts. This one was:
1.073 OG, 1.106 FG, 7.5%abv, 50IBU, 48SRM
64% Rahr 2-row
16% Weyerman Munich 2
8% Oatmeal
8% Simpsons UK Chocolate
1% UK Roasted Barley
3% Special B
Magnum at 60min, EKG at 30 and 10

All that said, thank you Mike for this site, the book, and making my beer more palatable.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad to hear! I haven't tried brewing a stout with kviek, I'll have to try!