For this weeks bunker brew in The Bernard Shaw, we were trying to create a milk stout with a twist. With our grain bill, we included loads of lovely roasty malts to try and get a nice rich coffee and chocolate flavour. We also included flaked oats and wheat to add a smooth, velvety mouth feel. We paired our grain bill with Magnum and Sorachi Ace hops which have berry and citrus characteristics, which should work well with the rich chocolate malts. It was also our first time playing with our new toy ‘The Grainfather’ so we were quite excited to see if it would live up to the hype. Our brew day (night) started very smoothly, we got all our grains weighed out, chucked them into the grainfather, set our mash temperature and let it work its magic for an hour, while we made the most of our extra spare time buy grabbing some pizza from the Big Blue Bus and ‘sampling’ some great new beers.
After our mash was finished, it was time to sparge and wash any extra sugar goodness from our grains, which was made very easy by the grainfathers ‘all in one’ design. Next it was time to bring our wort up to the boil, which again was made very easy, punch in the temperature, put the grainfather into turbo and let it do its thing. We were adding our magnum at 60 minutes for bittering and the sorachi ace at 30 minutes for aroma. Our boil went seamlessly, no boil over, minimum mess, probably one of the most relaxed home brews we’ve ever done.
It was all a little too good to be true though, as with any home brew in history, there is always an issue somewhere. Ours came in cooling, and a technical problem with water connection and the grainfathers heat exchanger (a dodgy tap connector that leaked everywhere). We got down to about half the temperature we needed to get to, to pitch our yeast, before it totally gave up, which if you’re a brewer you will know is not exactly ideal as your beer will be at a much great risk of infection which would lead to nasty off flavours. But with some quick thinking and luckily having a spare immersion chilled that we very quickly, yet thoroughly sanitised got our temperature down to what we needed and transferred into our fermenter and pitched our yeast. We let it ferment out for a week and then condition for a second week before we took a sample, transferred to our bottling bucket and then added our priming sugar.
On first impressions all vital signs were good. A nice dark roasty chocolate aroma and taste and a smooth mouth feel. The bitterness and aroma from the hops was a little dull, but after conditioning for a few more weeks in the bottle we are hopeful they will shine through a bit more and will have a nice well balanced rich stout and just in time for these cold dull nights starting to set in.
Stay tuned for our next Bunker experiment report, where we will be trying to replicate a new and slightly unconventional style coming for the east coast of the states.
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