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Old 11-30-2010, 07:55 PM   #1
dlester
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Default Smoked Beer Experiment

Smoked Beer:

I am in the process of building a smoked stout, which I will name Smokey The Stout for a local competition. My goal is to create a beautiful tasting stout with subtle smokiness. I already have a wonderful stout recipe that is a regular on my taps. However, it appears that the most popular beer to add smoke flavor is the Porter. I haven't seen much in the way of a smoked stout. Nonetheless, I have talked to several people that said they have tried such a beast. Well, I haven't and was at a loss as to designing the recipe, until now.

Because this is my first smoked beer, I'll need everyone's input; good, bad or indifferent. I want to know your attempts at smoke flavor no matter the style. What was your honest opinion of your smoked beer and what would you have done differently?

Here are my concerns: Every time I have tasted a homebrew smoked beer, the smoke was always overwhelming. I don't know how much smoked malt to add to the grist. But I found the advice of 3 oz per 5 gallons at my home brew shop in SoCal. Well, this might be good, but I want to get it right the first time. Therefore, I have devised an experiment.

My experiment: First, start off with a good stout recipe, which I have in hand. Next, in order to get the smokiness just right, I'm going to make a small batch using 6 ounces of smoked malt without hops and the same starting gravity as the stout. Finally, I'm going to blend the smoked malt into the finished stout until I get the blend to my liking.

This shouldn't be difficult and I think it's a good idea. But, I'm not the "pro," and neither should I be. I'm too new to the craft.



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Old 11-30-2010, 08:04 PM   #2
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A couple of thoughts.

A smoked stout with subtle smokiness will not do well in a competition. The smoked beers will be tasted in order of likely palate impact and your stout will go close to last. Smoke is a palate killer and anything remotely subtle will taste like it doesn't have any smoke of it goes last. That's one of the realities of that category.

3 oz per 5 gallons is a ridiculously small amount of hardwood smoked malt so I assume the homebrew shop is advising you to use peat smoked malt. I would not take that advice. Get the Weyermann smoked malt. In a stout, 20% of the grainbill would be pretty subtle. Any lower than that and you may as well not use any. I use 50% or more in a smoked porter, that is fairly strong but not out of line with commercial examples.

I doubt the blend will work well as you'll need so much of the smokey beer as to dilute the stout. You really need to replace a fair portion of the base malt with smoked malt.



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Old 11-30-2010, 08:09 PM   #3
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Porter and stouts are closely related, so the general approach should be the same. My Jazz Club Smoked Porter used 18% Weyermann smoked malt (2 lbs/5 gallons), by far my favorite of the smoked malts. If you are going to use peat-smoked malt, you'd want to use A LOT less. The Briess Cherry-smoked malt doesn't taste nearly as good to me as the Weyermann - it tends to be more acrid than smokey.

Jazz Club is quite old now (I brewed it on July 4), and while the smokey aroma has faded, the taste is still perfectly balanced with the chocolaty character of the malts. Since Stouts tend to be dryer and roastier than most porters, reducing the amount of smoked malt down to 10-12% would probably be a good idea to start out with, but I wouldn't go lower than than unless you really just want the barest suggestion of smokiness in the beer.

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:14 PM   #4
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I see what you mean with the subtle part. Is it your opinion to go big on the smoke since it's possible it will go last in a competition, which I get? However, I tasted the Alaskan Porter and it wasn't overwhelming. Your thoughts?

I am using beachwood malt and yes, it was advised 3 oz per 5 gal, and i'm going with 6gallons.

Regarding dilution, how about I estimate the pounds of malt, and take that amount out of the malt bill. Then blend the estimated smoked malt?

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcaneXor View Post
Porter and stouts are closely related, so the general approach should be the same. My Jazz Club Smoked Porter used 18% Weyermann smoked malt (2 lbs/5 gallons), by far my favorite of the smoked malts. If you are going to use peat-smoked malt, you'd want to use A LOT less. The Briess Cherry-smoked malt doesn't taste nearly as good to me as the Weyermann - it tends to be more acrid than smokey.

Jazz Club is quite old now (I brewed it on July 4), and while the smokey aroma has faded, the taste is still perfectly balanced with the chocolaty character of the malts. Since Stouts tend to be dryer and roastier than most porters, reducing the amount of smoked malt down to 10-12% would probably be a good idea to start out with, but I wouldn't go lower than than unless you really just want the barest suggestion of smokiness in the beer.
Damn, that sounds good. Mail some to me now, LOL. Thanks for your advice.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:18 PM   #6
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I recently made and still have on tap a smoked ESB...grain bill was ~11lbs (5gal batch), with one lb of that being a cherrywood smoked malt. The smoke stands out pretty well in the lighter ESB, but would be somewhat subtle in a roasty stout.

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlester View Post
Damn, that sounds good. Mail some to me now, LOL. Thanks for your advice.
Can't do that (it's kegged), but I can give you the recipe. Probably needs some tweaking since this was a concentrated boil, but you'll get the general idea:

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Boil Size: 5.03 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 34.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 21.2 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
6.50 lb Brewers Malt 2-Row (Briess) (1.8 SRM) Grain 57.78 %
2.00 lb Smoked Malt (Weyermann) (2.0 SRM) Grain 17.78 %
1.00 lb Caramel Malt - 60L (Briess) (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.89 %
1.00 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 8.89 %
0.50 lb Wheat Malt, Pale (Weyermann) (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.44 %
0.25 lb Carafa Special III (Weyermann) (470.0 SRM)Grain 2.22 %
10.00 gm Magnum [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 17.9 IBU
12.00 gm Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [3.00 %] (30 min)Hops 2.5 IBU
8.00 gm Goldings, East Kent [4.40 %] (5 min) Hops 0.8 IBU
0.50 tbsp PH 5.2 Stabilizer (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
1.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
1.00 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
2.00 gm Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
2.00 gm Chalk (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
2.00 gm Salt (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
3.00 gm Baking Soda (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
3.00 gm Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs American Ale Yeast (Fermentis #US-05) Yeast-Ale


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 11.25 lb
----------------------------
Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 14.63 qt of water at 162.9 F 150.0 F

(Note: base is RO water, aims to roughly imitate a London water)
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:33 PM   #8
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I think there's a huge decision you're going to have to make: do you want to brew a beer that will win a competition, or do you want to brew a beer that you will love drinking? Remilard is right about the placement of the beer in the flight - you will have a horrible time competing against all the other beers before you. For that reason, you'll probably have to do a 50% smoked beer. However, this is going to be one that for the next year you'll be forcing people to have a taste every time they come over to your house because not a lot of people will choose to have a whole pint of it.

I have a friend who has this problem with a 70% (!!!!) smoked porter he made. It's pretty awesome but even a beer geek like me won't drink more than a pint.

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:44 PM   #9
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You know how it is, everybody has to go extreme or go home. To compete in a smoked category you're going to have to go extreme. I would imagine if you are entering the beer in the stout category less smoke would be desired.

I do a smoked porter with 1oz per gallon. You get the porter taste up front and then a little smoky flavor on the back end. You don't need to go 20% to get a smoke flavor...

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Old 11-30-2010, 08:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanzimonson View Post
I think there's a huge decision you're going to have to make: do you want to brew a beer that will win a competition, or do you want to brew a beer that you will love drinking? Remilard is right about the placement of the beer in the flight - you will have a horrible time competing against all the other beers before you. For that reason, you'll probably have to do a 50% smoked beer. However, this is going to be one that for the next year you'll be forcing people to have a taste every time they come over to your house because not a lot of people will choose to have a whole pint of it.

I have a friend who has this problem with a 70% (!!!!) smoked porter he made. It's pretty awesome but even a beer geek like me won't drink more than a pint.
OK, ultimately I want a beer that my friends and I can enjoy. I think that a competition is secondary to enjoying more than a pint.


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