Cooking with Beer: Chocolate Stout Cake

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vanilla Porter Tasting

So the vanilla porter has been bottled for about a week and a few days so I figured it was time to crack one open and see how it went! Pictures would've helped to at least make this interesting but hey, get over it. I'll use the normal BeerAdvocate Appearance, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Drinkability scores as always.

12 oz bottle poured into a pilsner glass (sorry, that's all I have at my parent's house to drink from) at cellar temperature.

Look: pretty much identical to the porter before it was vanilla-fied. One plus is that there's actually a bit of head formation. I poured carefully so as not to disturb the sediment but ended up with a three finger head regardless. The head is a creamy, mocha color. Excellent retention on the head, which sticks around until the glass is empty. Not a whole lot of lacing but there's a little bit.

Smell: the vanilla is definitely here but it doesn't overpower the other malt aromas. The vanilla is front and center but roasted malt lurks in the background with a bit of chocolate and a smaller bit of coffee. There's also a bit of resinous hops in the aroma too. Smells very nice.

Taste: follows the nose incredibly well. The vanilla is definitely here in exactly the way I want it to be. Very full, rich vanilla flavor stands in the front with a bit of chocolate malt and some caramel, toffee flavors that are fairly subdued. There is a resinous hop finish.

Feel: much improved, probably due to the fact that this is actually carbonated. A bit creamier but it could use some more fullness and that's something I'll work on next time around. Moderate carbonation is spot on for the style.

Drink: really liked this beer so drinking it was easy, especially considering its sub-7% ABV.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with this. I am starting to think maybe the carbonation issue on the bomber was because it was in a bomber. I am really happy to have a fridge full of this beer. Usually, I've had a fridge full of homebrew and thought "Shit, how am I going to get rid of all this?" Well, I think I'm coming along nicely with my brewing. Not bad for my first full batch of all grain beer! Cheers!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Porter Tasting

Splittin' a bomber with the lady. Dating advice from the Lonely Boner: find a girl who loves beer as much as you do.

Cheers! Here's the tasting of the vanilla porter before it become vanilla-ified. Using the Appearance/Smell/Taste/Mouthfeel/Drinkability scale:

Look: black body with murky, dark red highlights when held to the light. Despite an aggressive pour, the only head that forms is a thin, beige layer of bubbles. It retains for a few minutes but not doesn't stick around very long and there's not much lacing either.

Smell: chocolate really stands out and is rather potent. Malty sweet with a hint of resinous hops.

Taste: follows the nose nicely. Chocolate really stands out in the taste with a hint of coffee, some malty sweetness, not much in the way of hops except a lingering hop bitterness from the Chinook hops in the aftertaste.

Feel: really where this one falls short. A bit too thin and a bit too flat.

Drink: spot on. If the carbonation was better this would be a very sessionable brew.

Overall, there are some things I like and some things I do not like about this one. First, the positives:
  • The flavor is spot on and exactly what I was hoping for with my porter. Even if the vanilla doesn't quite work out, the regular porter is very impressive to me. I would reach for this one before I would reach for many commercial examples of the style.
  • It looks quite good aside from the head.
Things I don't like:
  • no head to speak of.
  • too thin in body. Now, I know it isn't a RIS and isn't supposed to be that thick, but I still expect a bit of creaminess from my porters.
  • A bit under carbonated
I think both of these are due to the problem of the stuck mash leading to a longer rest than I intended. The carbonation issue is something I'll worry about when I have a bottle from the rest of the batch because I didn't really bottle this with normal methods.

Blog Posts About This Beer


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Down the pipeline

... or down the tap line. Heyooooo!

Ok, enough of that.

Here's basically what I have planned down the way:

Up next is either a brown ale or an IPA. I'm leaning towards the IPA. Here's the recipe:

5 gallon batch.

10 # US 2-row 76.9%
2 # US Caramel 10L 15.4%
1 # US flaked rye 7.7%

.5 oz Cascade @ 60 min
.5 oz Amarillo @ 60 min
.5 oz Centennial @30 min
.5 oz Simcoe @30 min
.5 oz Ahtanum @ 15 min
.5 oz Cascade @ 15 min
.5 oz Centennial @ 10 min
.5 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
.5 oz Simcoe @ 5 min
1 oz Amarillo in fermenter
1 oz Amarillo dry hopped
.5 oz Ahtanum dry hopped

California Ale yeast.

That's 7 oz of hops. Sheesh. Never brewed with rye before either. Here are the stats:

Original Gravity: 1.071
Final Gravity: 1.016
ABV: 7.4%
IBU: 69.1
Color: 6.3 SRM

Also down the pipeline, I've figured a Saison might be interesting to brew for the summer, so I'll probably do that in April. I'm also leaning towards a small batch of a Russian Imperial Stout between now and then. For the pumpkin ale season, I'm leaning towards an Imperial Pumpkin Porter, inspired by Midnight Sun's TREAT.

But, more excitingly, I've always been fascinated with higher alcohol beers (upwards of 11%). As such, I've been pondering a high alcohol, Black Tuesday inspired Imperial Stout. I basically have what I want to do planned out and I've been reading about high alcohol brewing so here's what my basic plan of action is going to be:

The recipe:

Batch size: 6 gallons

18 # Maris Otter 2-row 62.1%
2.5 # Vanilla sugar 8.6%
2 # German CaraMunich III 6.9%
2 # Pale Chocolate 6.9%
2 # Flaked Oats 6.9%
1.5 # Chocolate Malt 5.2%
1 # Black Malt 3.4%

3 oz 10.5 alpha Chinook pellets @ 60 minutes

White Labs WLP099 High Gravity

1 cup cocoa powder in boil @ 5 minutes
4 oz toasted cacao nibs in secondary with 1 month to bottle
3 vanilla beans soaked in vodka in secondary with 1 month to bottle
Oak cubes soaked in Scotch

If all goes according to plan, the beer should end up like this:

Original Gravity: 1.133
Final Gravity: 1.020
ABV: 15.5%
IBU: 68.8
Color: 70.7 SRM

Vanilla sugar is basically table sugar that you put in an airtight container with some vanilla beans. The vanilla beans make the sugar smell and taste like vanilla. Awesome? Yeah. I will also invert the sugar (i.e. turn it into dark, Belgian candi sugar) before I add it to the boil so that it is more easily fermentable by the yeast.

General plan of attack:

After boiling down to six gallons, I'm going to split the batch into 4 parts into 4 3 gallon carboys. Each will have 1.5 gallons. I'll make a starter for the yeast and pitch the high gravity yeast into each. The point of splitting the batch like this is two fold:
  • Having too much wort to ferment can cause yeast in high alcohol environments to die too quickly leading to a stuck fermentation
  • The gravity environment can lead to the krausen getting too big and blowing out of the fermenter.
Also have to aerate fairly frequently as per the Bruery's suggestions. I'll also add some yeast nutrient stuff to the boil and to the fermenters. After a month I'll rack 5 gallons to one secondary and 1 gallon to another; the small batch will receive some oak cubes soaked in scotch. I'll repitch yeast and then I will let this one go for another 3 months. From there, I'll rack the oaked portion off the cubes and in with the rest of the batch and repitch if necessary. After a month on this I'll transfer it to a tertiary on the vanilla beans and cacao nibs and then bottle after a month.

Total time in fermenters: 6 months.

Once its bottled, I'm thinking I'll dip the tops in wax to seal them and prevent rusting on the caps. I intend to age this one for awhile so that will certainly help. The issue is making sure the yeast survive the experience. I'll be repitching, adding nutrient, and using a strain that supposedly can make it up to 20% alcohol so it shouldn't be bad. I'll also ferment it a bit cooler than usual to prevent it from turning into rocket fuel.

It should be interesting. I see this beer being something I pop open on special occasions and I think it'll be interesting to see how a beer I've made changes over the span of a decade or longer.

I also made some mock ups of labels for this guy that I plan on printing out onto some textured paper. Given how dark this beer is going to be, the labels are a bit Nietzsche inspired:

Here's the back:

... and the front.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vanilla Porter

So, this is my first full batch of all grain beer. Loving porters n' stouts, I figured "I'll brew a porter!" Well, kind of. I calculated my stuff wrong using Hopville before I had Beer Alchemy, got my supplies, then ran it through Beer Alchemy and turns out I am .01 too high on the final gravity and 2.5 SRM too dark for it to be a porter so its really a stout but hey, I can't tell the difference and neither can you.

I should also point out, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to measuring. This is because I rarely care about repeatability. If it tastes good, I'm fine with it and if I repeat everything exactly the same the next time, it'll probably end up the same next time... right? (ehh, probably not, but who cares. You're reading the blog called The Lonely Boner so are you surprised I don't care about this stuff?)

Anyway, here's the recipe:

10# Maris Otter two row 80%
1# German CaraMunich III 8%
1# US Chocolate Malt 8%
.5# US Pale Chocolate Malt 4%

1 oz 11.4 alpha Chinook pellets @ 60 minutes

Wyeast Irish Ale Yeast

5 Madagascar Vanilla Beans soaked in just enough vodka to cover them for a few weeks

Ok, so for the process. I crushed the grains a bit too fine, got a bit more flour than I meant to, and ended up getting a stuck mash.

I don't even know what the mash process I used is called. I mashed a bit hotter than I wanted to and ended up mashing for 1 hour at 156 degrees F. I ended up with a stuck mash, which was fun dealing with... not. I took the first runnings and recirculated them, then sparged with enough water to end up with 6.5 gallons of wort. From then on, it was pretty easy.

Fermented at around 68 degrees F for 12 days. At that point I bottled one 22 oz bottle and racked the rest onto a carboy with the vanilla extract and gave it a good shake to mix it up. I also took a 4 oz sample and it tasted spot on, with chocolate, roasty malt flavors and a bit of hop bitterness in the finish. I was worried about it being too bitter but it wasn't bad and by the time I bottle it, the hops will have died down a bit.

The 22 oz bottle is so that I can taste the beer fully carbonated and without the vanilla, so I can compare and see if I nailed it on the vanilla front.

The theoretical stats of this beer are:
Style: quasi-Robust Porter
Original Gravity: 1.065
Final Gravity: 1.017
ABV: 6.4%
IBU: 43.3
SRM: 37.5 (black)

I have pics uploaded to Facebook that maybe I'll get around to posting here but for right now, Facebook is being a real bitch. Next post will probably be a tasting of the porter. Cheers!

Welcome to the Lonely Boner... where all your fantasies come true.

... wow that was awkward.

Welcome to the Lonely Boner. I know, you were googling lonely boners and somehow stumbled across a brewing blog. Ehh, it could be worse. I know when I'm looking for boners and I end up finding beer instead, I think its still a pretty good day. Wait, what?!

Anywho, the origin of the name comes from a conversation I had with my girlfriend. I forget exactly how it came up, but we decided it would be a good name for a bar. "I would totally go to the Lonely Boner," is what her exact words were. Then we realized that no one would ever zone for a bar named the Lonely Boner, so I figured "Hey, I can at least make a blog about it" because its the internet and this stuff doesn't matter on the internet.

So join me, in my half hearted attempt at a beer brewing blog. I should warn you; I am not a technical wizard, nor do I really understand the science behind brewing entirely, and I'm pretty sure I don't even quite know how to use my recipe writing program correctly, but what I do know is that I've made a few decent beers so far, I'm a quick learner, and I don't take my beer too seriously. After all, to quote (or paraphrase, since there's no way I'm rewatching all of Beer Wars to get this quote right) Sam Caligione or whatever his last name is, from Dogfish Head:

We don't take ourselves too seriously. We're making beer, not nuclear armaments.
So without further adieu, I'll blog about the beer that I'm currently working on in the first post. Hope you enjoy your stay at the Lonely Boner! Cheers!