Monday, 13 January 2014

Chocolate Cherry Stout

I loved KJD Cherry Porter when I first tried it a couple of years ago. Being a seasonal beer you don’t see it all the time, but when I spotted it at the supermarket over Xmas I bought 8 bottles. Boy was I disappointed when I got home and had a bottle. The only way I could describe it was it tasted like it had been brewed on a budget. Not enough cherry, not enough chocolate, not enough sweetness, not enough flavor. It was OK, but nothing like how I remember it.

I also loved Garage Project Cherry Bomb when I had it at Soba Matariki beer festival a few years ago, but despite me mentioning it every time I visit Garage Project, it has never made it from the pilot plant to the full scale plant, so it is never available.

Being one batch of beer into home brewing, full of piss and vinegar I figured that I could do better that KJD and GP. The starting point was a can of Blackrock Miners Stout. Rather than using sugar like the recipe on the can says I changed to a can of dark malt extract - then I went crazy and added two cans of cherries in syrup (whizzed in a sanatised blender) and 250g of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. Just for giggles I also chucked in 500gm of brown sugar and made the total volume up to 20L. The wort tasted pretty good - bitter and sweet and chocolatey (in fact maybe a little too chocolatey!)

I learned from my mistake last time and had frozen an icecream container of water which I added to the wort to get the temperature down to 18deg before pitching rehydrated S-04 yeast (it was rehydrated in water, but I realised I should have used wort)

Despite the fact that the guy at the home brew shop said I wouldn't need a blow off tube I fitted one anyway (he was right) before putting the fermenter in a plastic crate and attaching a temperature sensor. The plastic crate was to allow me to add some cold water to keep the temperature down (S-04’s ideal temperature is 15-20deg). Turns out that I did need to wrap the fermenter in teatowels and wet with fridge temperature water (plus added a couple of slicker pads) when it got over 20deg. Looking at the log of the temperature rising now, looks like I will have to do that again just to keep it down.

I am not sure why I am not getting much krazen in my fermentation barrel - it makes me worry, despite the fact that the last batch did exactly the same and it fermented OK. I will check the SG in a couple of days and see what's happening. I can always pitch some more yeast if it needs it.

I have not yet decided if I am going to transfer to a secondary and add more cherry’s. I am concerned that moving the beer from the yeast cake, then adding more simple sugars will mean when bottling the yeast might not have enough muster to carbonate the beer. Maybe I need to transfer some of the yeast cake to the secondary too (the primary goal for secondary is to add more cherry flavor not for clearing the beer)

We shall see...

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