The Forgotten Beer Experiment
In January of 2013 I had developed a strange, albeit temporary desire to abandon the safety of brewing traditional beer styles made with traditional ingredients for something a little more off the beaten path. I was torn between doing a weizen or a stout so to placate the mad scientist in me I compromised by developing a wheat stout recipe. I’m sure it has been done before but I’ve never had one, so I said, “Why not?”
Life tends to have a nasty habit of preventing me from what I’d prefer to be doing at any given moment. Shortly after brewing the wheat stout and transferring it to secondary I started a new job, had family obligations and a host of other interludes that left my brew room dark for the past 5 months.
It is now July and I’ve opened my brew room for the first time since then. I felt a bit like an archaeologist discovering some long forgotten tomb holding a trove of ancient relics, the crown jewel of which is the 5 gallon carboy of wheat stout gently covered in my gray Guinness hoodie, having sat undisturbed for nearly half a year.
When I was running errands the other day I had a vague recollection of having beer waiting for me, though the particulars eluded me. I figured the yeast must be dead in it by now and was sure it likely tasted something in the realm of urine that had been sitting in an old tire, but I was next door to a LHBS and decided to pick up a pack of Wyeast Scottish Ale Yeast-1728 on the off chance it was salvageable. I didn’t know if that was the yeast I used or not (I didn’t even remember it was a wheat based beer), but 1728 is an old standby for me and I figured I’d use it to make something new if all else was lost.
Imagine my surprise when I tasted it for the first time in so many months and it was fantastic! The beer has a nice color, a bit darker in the glass than a New Castle Brown, and is crystal clear. The flavor is good, very wheaty, but not at all yeasty with a very clean finish that is slightly spicey on the tongue. It lacks the body of a stout, more like a heavy porter, but that lightness should make it a very enjoyable summer beer. The only criticism I have is that any hop character left it long ago as well as any depth from yeast it may have had, but having tasted it so far I can say that they are not something I will miss; the rest stands up well on its own.
Since this brew has been all over the place anyway I decided to make a 750ml starter with the Scottish Ale Yeast and will repitch once it is ready. I’ve included the original recipe below and will report back once it has been bottled, primed and aged for any who are interested.
So the lesson of the story is you may be a prodigal brewer like me, but if you have had a beer waiting for you in your brew room for far too long you may be surprised to know it could welcome you back with open arms… or it may give you ptomaine poisoning.
Evil Puppy Wheat Stout (dedicated to my ill mannered Golden Retriever, Bocelli)
Style: Specialty Beer
Size: 5 gallons
Boil: 60 minutes
Equipment: 40 qt pot with 10 gallon MLT
Grain (Single Infusion, Full body Mash; Mash-In 17.25qts @ 156F for 45 min; Mash-Out 7.5qts @ 168F; Fly-Sparge 1.9 gal @ 168F for 45 min)
6.5 lbs – Briess Red Wheat Malt
1.25 lbs – Weyermann Carawheat Caramel Malt
1.25 lbs – Briess Munich 20L
1.25 lbs – Briess Vienna Malt
1 lb – Briess Carabrown Malt
1 lb – Briess Chocolate Malt
0.75 lb – Briess Carapils
0.50 lb – Rice Hulls
1 oz – Northern Brewer (8.5% AA) @ 60 minutes
1 oz – Hallertauer (4,8% AA) @ 20 minutes
1 tsp – Irish Moss @ 30 minutes
0.50 tsp – Amylase enzyme in mash
4 oz – Priming Sugar (Dextrose)
1750ml Starter – Wyeast German Wheat 3333 on stir-plate
Primary 7 days @ 67F; Secondary 14-21 days @ 67F (that was the plan, anyway); Bottle with 4oz Dextrose Priming Sugar (2.3 vol)