Brewing a White Stout

Lover of the light white stout

Vitals
Method: All-grain
Boil-time: 60 mins
Batch size: 5 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.065
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 39.3
Brew Day: 5/7/2016

Recently while on vacation Carol and I spent a few days in the Phoenix/Tempe area. On our way to the airport to fly home we made a pit stop at Mother Bunch Brewing which, according to Google Maps, offered a “cool brewpub with creative bar bites.” It sounded like a natural match as we like our brewpubs cool and our bar bites creative. Carol and I each ordered a flight of a variety of Mother Bunch and other guest beers. The house beer was very good but one guest tap blew me away. It was Huss Brewing’s Koffee Kölsch. By appearances only, it was a clear golden beer with a thick, foamy white head. When I took a sniff it smelled like straight coffee. I was very intrigued. After taking my first drink all I could think to compare it to was an alcoholic coffee cream soda. Says a reviewer on beeradvocate.com:

 

wingnutter: This beer confuses me. It looks like a Kolsch, but I’d swear it tastes like a delicious coffee porter. Creamy with tons of coffee. It shocked me how much I like this beer, and how outside the box it is. Imagine a totally solid lawnmower beer (refreshing and mild) with a healthy dose of coffee flavor. Its better than iced coffee. Its freaking genius. Very impressed. I’m going to have to figure out how to make my own version.

 

Well I agree, wingnutter. But as an alternative to simply trying to clone this beaut of a beer I wanted to take a stab at something similar, but different. A White Stout. Props to Keg Outlet for having a great series dedicated to this. The base malt is Maris Otter, a premium base malt from the UK, popular for a lot of English Ales, Pale Ales, Stouts and Bitters. As an alternative to traditional 2-Row Barley it is said to give a nutty/biscuity flavor. Flaked Oats (body, texture), Flaked Barley (head retention, creaminess, body) and Crystal 20L (body, color, head retention) were incorporated to round out the grain bill and give the beer some charactor. Lastly, to add some smoky/roasty flavors without adding any color to the beer, a pound of American Smoked malt was tossed in.

 

Close-up of yeast starter with Wyeast Ringwood Ale blended with WLP002
Close-up of yeast starter with Wyeast Ringwood Ale blended with WLP002. It’s a like multi-family eukaryotic kegger.

 

I had intended to use Wyeast Ringwood Ale liquid yeast which, according to its manufacturer, gives a malty, complex profile and does well with Oatmeal Stouts and English Browns. I was a dunce and didn’t bother to check how fresh the yeast was until I got home. It was packaged on Jan 07, 2016 meaning about 40% viability or roughly 40 Billion living yeast cells. That’s like buying 24 eggs and getting home to see that 14 of them are smashed. Yes, easily preventable but no less frustrating. It is normal to have some level of viability loss with liquid yeast (unless you’re buying straight from the source or snagging some from a brewery) but this was pretty significant. Normally I would just create a yeast starter but it’s there’s research that growth rates over 3.0 (target count / initial count) require a multi-stage starter. So with a target pitch of 280 Billion cells that meant I had two options:  Either go through process of creating a multi-stage starter or call Carol and have her pick up more yeast on the way home. I called Carol and you’d think I would have reminded her to check the viability but I didn’t. She picked up a vial of WLP002 (English Ale) with nearly the same viability. Derp. So, with a growth rate of 280B/90B or 3.1, and some reckless abandon, we blended them together into the 2 liter yeast starter that would eventually fuel our fermentation.

 

Fermentables

AmountFermentablePPGSRM% Bill
10 lbMaris Otter1.0383.069.0%
1.5 lbFlaked Oats1.0371.010.3%
1 lbAmerican Smoked Malt1.0375.06.90%
1 lbFlaked Barley1.0321.76.90%
1 lbCaramel/Crystal 20L1.034206.90%

Hops

AmountVarietyTimeTypeIBUAA%
.6 ozColumbus (Tomahawk)60 minPellet30.315%
.25 ozEast Kent Goldings30 minPellet3.15%
.25 ozEast Kent Goldings10 minPellet1.55%

Yeast

StrainTypeAttenuationTemp RangeFlocculationStarter Size
Wyeast Ringwood #1187Ale - Liquid68% - 72%64F - 74FHigh2L (combined)
White Labs English Ale #002Ale - Liquid63% - 70%65F - 68FVery High2L (combined)

The water profile to use for a beer like this had me stumped. On one hand it’s aiming for the flavor and aroma of a malty, toasty  dark beer but appearance of something much lighter. I ended up consulting the Brewer’s Friend Water Profile tool and chose one of their pre-baked profiles called “Light colored and Malty”. This water profile has low residual alkalinity and the sulfate to chloride ratio tilts towards chloride, making it a solid choice for light colored and malt-forward beers. The actual profile is below in ppm:

Ca: 90ppm
Mg: 11ppm
Na: 37ppm
SO4: 84ppm
Cl: 57ppm
HCO3: 76ppm
pH: 8

The brew day went really smooth. We were shooting for a high mash at 155F and came in right on target. The reason why we wanted to mash high was to leave a decent supply of unfermentable sugars in the wort. This will drive the finished product to maintain a little residual sweetness/body. After the hour-long mash we ran a vorlauf cycle, drained the first runnings and fly-sparged for about 6.5 gallons of wort into the boil kettle. At first sign of boiling we tossed in 3/4oz of Columbus pellets, followed by 1/4oz of East Kent Goldings at 30mins and 10 mins each. The wort was chilled using a copper immersion chiller and a recirculating whirlpool and everything was transferred into the fermenter. Original Gravity was measured at 1.065 and the plan was to ferment at 68F for the next week.

We're mashing in the stratosphere on this one
We’re mashing in the stratosphere on this one. Higher mash = sweeter beer.

 

About seven days later, final gravity had stabilized between 1.016 and 1.018 for a couple days so it was time to dump the trub and lower the temperature to 62F. I did pull off a small sample to taste at this point. The color looked great. Beersmith had estimated a color of 7.5 SRM (deep Orange or Copper) and from what I can tell that is spot-on. The only aroma I could pick up at this point was a warming alcohol scent which didn’t surprise me as this is uncarbonated, 68F degree beer. What impressed me the most was the lingering, slightly smoky flavor provided by using that pound of American Smoked Malt. So far so good.

 

IMG_1899
The White Stout seven days post-brew.

 

Several days later (5/16), after 1.5oz of Tito’s vodka and 3oz of organic cacao nibs had been getting to know each other, the tincture was added to the fermenter. Five days later we added 8oz of whole coffee beans. I used a local French Vanilla blend because I thought the vanilla would be nice accent. For the coffee beans I sanitized a nylon bag and placed them into the fermenter. I let that sit in the beer for one day at 62F and the following day I started lowering the temperature of the beer to around 45F before racking into the keg and getting into the keezer to be carbonated.

 

The Ringwood/WLP002 doing work

 

First taste of this ten days after kegging, on 5/28/2016.

Aroma:  Coffee, vanilla, caramel, chocolate in descending order of strength. If you’re familiar with French Vanilla you would recognize immediately. No hop aroma whatsoever.

Appearance: A deep copper color. Looking into the glass reminds me of a foggy windshield after a summer rain. There’s no transparency to this one.  The head is very creamy and sticks around after a swish thanks to the Flaked Oats. The color definitely leads you to expect some kind of hop-bombed Double IPA.

Flavor: Up front is a deluge of sweet coffee and caramel. There is a lot of body to this. It was mashed at 155F so not surprising. And on the nose, a sweet, vanilla/chocolate finish with some of the coffee notes sticking around. After each sip you want to try more of it.

Mouthfeel:  A creamy, medium body and a moderate-to-low alcohol impression. The Flaked Oats and Flaked Barley team up with the residual sweetness to leave a noticeable coating in your mouth that makes you want to keep drinking. Very crispy.

Comments: The coffee is definitely the star of the show which is amazing as it only spent two days with the beer. The coffee bean we used is a blend we drink quite regularly and it’s surprising how how much of the French Vanilla comes through. If you were to brew this you really could tailer the taste to any type of coffee you want. Before adding the cacao nib tincture I took a little sample and I remember the bitter taste. It’s hard to tell exactly where that is but I feel like without that this beer would be too sweet. At 6.2% it’s not exactly a heavyweight but it’s not a beer I would want to be drinking in the summer heat. I could see keeping this one around in the Fall/Winter.

 

IMG_1933
The White Stout three weeks after brew day.

2 Comments

  1. Hey, great writeup and blog! Thanks for linking to our article… glad it came in handy for you!

    I may have overlooked it, but it looks like you carbonated yours and served out of a standard faucet? We put ours under nitro pressure and served it from a stout faucet, which I might change next time. I think getting a little more ‘bite’ 100% CO2 might be a welcome change to this beer. Dont’ get me wrong, it was good under nitro, but it was just very thick, rich and creamy.

    Thanks again!

    PS – not sure why, but when “tabbing” from this comment field to try to fill in Name / Email, it jumps you up to the top of the website – tabindex may be off in the theme.

    • Thank you! And no problem at all. Your series was great and I pretty much just followed your lead. Yes it was carbonated using CO2 and served out of a Perlick 630ss. I do not have Nitro capability at this time. On CO2 it is definitely rich and creamy but I can imagine on Nitrogen it would be much thicker. Thanks for the heads up on the tab-index, I will check into that.

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