Nick Carr on January 20, 2016 0 Comments History of Stouts Mention stout to anyone and nine times out of ten the Emerald Isle and its famous Guinness will come to mind. Guinness may be the best known stout in the world but it is only one example of the style. The stout category boasts an impressive seven renditions (with a new one being added to the BJCP guidelines in 2015) of the same roast ladened song. Like a bouquet, these seven “flowers” together build a sense-picture with characteristics common to all; deep malt, roast, coffee, chocolate. But, pull a single flower from the bouquet and subtle differences express themselves fully. The American stout is one of these flowers. Like all stout’s, the American version can trace its history back to England and a beer known as “butt beer,” so named because of the large wooden casks, or butt’s that it was aged in. The beer’s rise in popularity, especially among the London working glass soon garnered it a new name, Porter. At this time, 200 years ago, there was no distinguishable difference between porters and stouts. In fact, the word “stout” was used only as a descriptor of the strongest porter’s; as in “stout porter”. There was no separate stout style. Porter prominence grew, spreading across Great Britain and, by trade routes, into places like Ireland, Russia, Scandinavia, and even India. The Irish took to making their own porters, especially the stout porter, which was basically a porter brewed with less water to create a stronger beer. In the mid eighteenth century Arthur Guinness established his now world famous brewery at Dublin’s St. James Gate and began to brew stout porter. Separation of stout and porter would come with the invention of the drum kiln in 1817. This new kilning method gave the world black patent malt, which imparted a roastiness, but not burnt flavor, and resulted in a beer with less sweetness, than those brewed with brown malts. Guinness started using this new malt and promptly created its dry stout. Stout in America So the tree is a Porter, Irish Dry stout is a thick strong limb, and off this limb comes the American stout. It’s a twisted eccentric branch, sharing the bark patterning and color with the rest of the tree, but sprouting foliage varying in color and shape at every turn. It’s a stout, no doubt, but one that dabbles in ingredients its fellow branches do not. American stout shares much of its “Americanized” roots with the American porter. It too was a product born of the craft beer revolution. New Albion — a brewing company that has not gotten half the prestige of Anchor (it closed in 1982), though it helped set the crafting wheels in motion those many years ago — was brewing a stout in 1978. The last 30+ years of innovation, invention, and fermentation has seen the emergence of a stout with a playing field broader than any other member of its family. Ingredients such as chocolate, fruits, coffee, molasses, licorice and many other herbs have all found their way into the brew pot. Even the use of American hops, often the defining factor in this and several other “Americanized” categories are not necessarily a sure thing. But, generally speaking, examples of this sub-style will have a more robust roasted malt and hop profile than any other stout except the Imperial. Style Profile & Characteristics The guidelines for the American Stout beer style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below details are a summary of what an American Stout should represent. Quick Characteristics Color Range: 30–40 SRM Original Gravity: 1.050–1.075 Final Gravity: 1.010–1.022 IBU Range: 35–75 ABV Range: 5.0–7.0% Aroma: Strong roasted malts, may resemble chocolate or coffee; No burnt or charcoal characters; Low citrusy hop aromas; Esters may have medium intensity; Light sense of alcohol; No diacetyl. Flavor: Moderate to very high roasted malts; Chocolate and caramel sweetness may range from low to medium; No diacetyl; Hoppy bitterness will range from low to high; Esters may be present at low levels; Medium to dry finish; Smooth. Appearance: Dense dark black or brown; Long lasting and full tan colored foam. Mouthfeel: Smooth & creamy; Medium to full body; Mid-high to high amounts of carbonation; Food Pairings: Game Meats, BBQ, Shellfish, Calamari, Green Salads, Fruity Desserts, Dark Chocolate Cake The BJCP classifies this type of beer as an “American Porter and Stout” and it can be found in their guidelines as sub-category 20B, alongside American Porter (20A) and Imperial Stout (20C). Appearance: Color is very dense usually appearing black or dark brown. A long lasting, large head of a light tan to mocha color will form. Aroma: Roasted malts are king, coming across as roasted coffee or dark chocolate, but should have minimal, if any, burnt or charcoal-like character. Optional esters ranging up to medium intensity. Hops remain low, usually presenting some citrus and/or resiny quality due to the use of preferred use of American hops. A light sense of alcohol is also optional. No diacetyl. Mouthfeel: A somewhat creamy medium to full body. This creaminess is often enhanced with the use of small amounts of oats or wheat. Mid-high to high carbonation with a light to somewhat strong alcoholic warmth (without going into the realm of hot). It should be smooth. May have some astringency due to roast, but should not be overpowering. Taste: Moderate to very high roasted malt characters, presenting coffee, bittersweet chocolate, possible dark chocolate, and coffee beans. A slight burnt ground coffee flavor is okay, but should not be overly noticeable. A caramel or chocolate sweetness will be present, and should range from low to medium. No diacetyl present. Will have medium to high bitterness with hop flavors running low to high and usually show the citrus and/or resin of American hops. Esters can be present at low levels, but they are not required. Finish is medium to dry with possible lightly burnt characteristics. The beer should remain smooth but can present alcohol flavors in the medium range. *Reference: BJCP style guidelines 2015. EXAMPLES OF THE STYLE Disorder Stout from Barley Brown’s Brewpub (Baker City, OR)Great American Beer Festival Winner: Gold, 2015 and Silver, 2014. Available at the Brewpub, distributed to parts of Oregon. Black Cliffs from Boise Brewing Company (Boise, ID)Great American Beer Festival Winner, Silver, 2015. Available Seasonally. Power Two The People from 10 Barrel Brewing Company (Bend, OR)Great American Beer Festival Winner: Bronze, 2015 and 2014. World Beer Festival Winner, Bronze, 2015. Not available right now. The Defender from Haymarket Pub & Brewery (Chicago, IL)Great American Beer Festival Winner, Gold, 2014. World Beer Cup Winner, Gold, 2014. Available on tap at Haymarket. Happy Ending from Sweetwater Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA) World Beer Cup Winner, Bronze, 2014. Available in bottles late Dec. through March. 10 Other Easily Available Commercial Examples Out of Bounds Stout from Avery Brewing Company (Boulder, CO) Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewing Company (Bend, OR) Shakespeare Stout from Rogue Brewing & Distilling (Portland. OR) Sierra Nevada Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, CA) Old No. 38 from North Coast Brewing Company (Fort Bragg, CA) Chicory Stout from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, DE) Mean Old Tom from Main Brewing Company (Freeport, ME) Tres Blueberry Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Company (Marshall, MI) Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout from Bell’s Brewing Company (Kalamazoo, MI) Aphrodisiaque from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! (Montrél, CA) Tips for Brewing American Stout Click Here to View This Stout Brewing Kit from MoreBeer American Stout Ingredient Kits: Stout Extract Ingredient Kit Imperial Stout All-Grain Ingredient Kit Oaked Imperial Stout Extract Kit As we go into the homebrewing section it’s good to keep in mind this beer’s distinguishing characteristics. It will be more robust in both the hop and roast arenas when compared to anything in the stout category but an Imperial. Brewing this beer is much the same as brewing any other stout. The differences come in the grain bill and the amount and (often) the variety of hops. The Grain Bill: Start with a good base malt. Since it’s an American beer a good choice is Domestic two-row, which will give good fermentability and lends a, mostly hidden, off-white canvas for the specialty malts to be displayed on. Pale ale malts both domestic and English can be used if you want a more robust character, like having a canvas with light shades of gray to paint upon. How you decide to paint with your specialty grains plays the leading role in defining the character of your beer and separating it from other examples. And this painter’s palate is largely of the darker spectrum, but there are still plenty of different brush strokes to explore. Extract brewers should find a high quality light American malt extract for their base and steep a selection of the specialty grains talked about below to add depth and color. First to consider are roasted malts. It’s not a stout and definitely not an American stout without the character of roasted malts, especially roasted barley. Chocolate and black malt are also often used. The variety of roast profiles and the amount you decide to use of each allows for plenty experimentation. Midnight wheat and coffee malt may also make interesting additions. Most recipes will use anywhere from 10 to 20% roasted grain, but the higher you go the more likely acrid qualities will be noticeable. If heading for the high end of this range consider using a combination of lighter roast malts with your dark roast malts. Now that we have the dark stuff we need something to temper the robust roast. Caramel and Crystal malts find their place here. Generally the lighter the color the sweeter they are, so you probably don’t want to drop too far down the Lovibond range. What you’re trying to do is balance the scale a bit, but still leave it tipped toward the roast and hop bitterness. Using 5 to 10% of these caramel malts usually gets does the trick. Rye, oats, flaked barley, and wheat are sometimes included to increase head retention, mouthfeel, and add complexity. A little Munich malt can also bring malty complexity. Keep these additions in the realm of below 10% of your total grain bill. As you can see the grain bill isn’t that limiting even though it may appear so until you start playing with the many shades and quantity combinations available. Keep in mind many of the best recipes keep it simple, using roast barley and 3 or 4 other grains. Complicated doesn’t always equal good complexity. Adjunct sugars such as molasses and additions of fruit, spices, herbs, coffee, and chocolate can also find their place in this “kitchen sink” stout. The Mash: A single infusion mash at a temperature between 150 and 155°F is all you need for this style. This lower mid-range set of mash temperatures will get you a beer with some nice body, but one that’s not to viscous or heavy. The Hops: Hop flavor and aroma can be anywhere on the scale; an appreciable, but token hint, all the way up to quite robust. Often American hops are used, but really any aroma variety can find a comfortable spot in the style. Some brewer’s like the citrus and piney notes that hops like Cascade, Centennial, or Chinook bring. Though these are the classics and authentically American, I tend to prefer the dark malts of this style matched with hops that bring woody, herbal, earthy qualities. Willamette, Northern Brewer, or Magnum hops would also work well here. Dry hopping is also an option — I guess dry hopping is an option for any style with American in the name — but here you will want to use a light hand. Certain hop aromas will clash with the roasted grains and remember the hop aroma should be kept low but noticeable. The Yeast: The yeast you chose should by well attenuating and have a clean profile. You don’t want one that is known for a lot of ester production. For dry yeast Safale US-05 is a good bet and for wet yeast Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), Wyeast 1450 (Denny’s Favorite 50) or White Labs WLP051 California V Ale Yeast work well. Fermentation: Fermentation temperature range usually falls within 65 to 70°F, but follow the instructions on your selected yeast. As with all fermentations, pitch the proper amount of healthy yeast and keep a careful eye toward regulating and maintaining temperature. When fermentation is complete there is a good possibility you’re not going to find this new creation as palate-pleasing as expected. It may come across overly harsh. Don’t dump it! At least not yet. Bottle it and cellar it for a while. It probably needs some quite time to mellow out and round its edges. Open a bottle every week or so and check, chances are you’ll be kicking back smacking your lips at a job well done in no time. Cheers!