Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sweet Stout Journal - Mash @7brewing

Today, I am brewing up a Sweet Stout or Milk Stout.  A Sweet Stout is a dark beer with a bit sweetness that is added by lactose or milk sugar. The lactose provides an amount of unfermentable sugar or sugar that is not metabolized by the yeast.  This sugar is left over at the end of the fermentation process and contributes to a unique sweetness in the beer.

The first milk stout I tasted was produced by Wynkoop Brewing Company during a business trip out to Denver in 2010 or 2011.  I was intrigued by the sweetness and immediately thought "I need to brew this".  I like varieties of hoppy and malty beers, but the sweetness of the milk stout is quite different and done right can have a very smooth flavor.

First tip of day:  Pay attention to the water temperatures.  For 3 out of the last 5 brews, I have started with overheating the mash water.  This not only requires returning the water to the target temperature but adds an unnecessary amount of time to the brewing process.

Working with small volumes of mash water makes it challenging to maintain temperature for mashing in.  Starting with 2.5 gallons of water heated to 164 degrees, I mashed in 8 pounds of grain.  After mashing in I took a temperature reading of the mash and found the mash was at 146 degrees.  A full 6 degrees below the target mash temperature of 152 degrees.

(Excuse the photo quality from my iPhone 3GS.  My iPhone 5 is on order.)

I made a first attempt to bring the temperature up by adding .5 gallons of water heated to about 190 degrees.  This raised the mash temperature to about 148 degrees.  Typically, I have not checked the mash temps before setting up for the 60 minute mash.  This could alter the flavors of the beers I generally brew and points to the idea that better control over the mashing process.

I added another .75 gallons of water heated over 180 degrees and got within my target.

Mash Water
Total grain (lbs) : 8
Target Mash Water Volume: 2.5 gallons
Final Mash Water Volume: 3.75 gallons
Mash Temperature: 152 degrees

To meet volumes to the boil kettle, the sparge water will be adjusted by 1.25 gallons.

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