Chocolate Stout Question

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Dec 10, 2007
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Little Rock
Ok, finally got around to trying a chocolate stout (I loves me the Young's Double Chocolate). I had a True Brew Irish stout extract kit from LHBS and the owner was kind enough to recommend a few alterations to come close to a Young's.

Recipe as follows:
3.3# Munton's Hopped Dark LME
2.0# Munton's Dark DME
0.4# Crystal 60
0.25# Roasted 2 Row
0.5# Chocolate malt
0.5# Quaker Quick Oats
1oz Cascade (60 min)
1oz Cascade (30 min)
6 oz Munton's English? Ale
8oz Hershey's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (15min)

My problem is, I don't have a single pot big enough to boil more than about 1 gal, of wort. After steeping my grains in about 3/4 gallon of water at 160F for 30 minutes I split the resulting grain "tea" into to pots and filled each to 1 gallon (the kit called for 2 gallon boil) and added half of each extract to each pot. Also added half of each hop addition to each pot (.5 oz at a time/per pot). OG was 1049 after topping my primary to 5 gallons (I did mix very thoroughly) and the sample tasted VERY bitter with a strong chocolate after taste.

I know that the volume of water has some effect on hop utilization, but how badly have I screwed this up? Any thoughts you might have about what I could have done differently?

Cheers! :mug:
Im not sure you did anything wrong it actually sounds fairly good to me, although I have never done a partial batch just full boils.

I would say the only thing you could do differently is get a burner and large pot and start doing full boils. If you have the room.

Sounds like it would be a lot less work.
Ok, this has been in the primary a week now and SG readings yesterday and today are both 1020. Looks like it's done fermenting, but seems like it should have finished a bit lower than this. Any thoughts?
The beer sample is still very bitter but the strong chocolate finish seems to have faded a bit. Guess I'll rack to a secondary this weekend and let it condition for a while.

Cheers :mug:
I made my chocolate stout in a very similar fashion, if I recall correct I only added about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder at the end of the boil and then I added another 1/4 cup during bottling. Don't be disappointed if this doesn't taste great when you first try it. Mine was good to ok when I first tried it and it keeps getting better , it's about six months old now and I really wish there was more than a few bottles left because it's awesome now. Good luck. Paul

I didn't mean cocoa, I meant unseweetened cocoa powder
Flycactus said:
Ok, this has been in the primary a week now and SG readings yesterday and today are both 1020. Looks like it's done fermenting, but seems like it should have finished a bit lower than this. Any thoughts?
The beer sample is still very bitter but the strong chocolate finish seems to have faded a bit. Guess I'll rack to a secondary this weekend and let it condition for a while.

Cheers :mug:

warm it up to 73F for three or four days and check the gravity again. ten bucks says it'll drop another point or two. please don't put cocoa in it. this is beer not hot chocolate. cocoa adds a bitter aftertaste
I have a double chocolate stout in the conical right now that finished around 6.1% ABV. the FG was 1.026. I'm not disappointed in the taste or the alcohol.

I wouldn't worry about the FG as long as it tastes ok. Lot of factors could have lead to the gravity--EtOH level, unfermentables, etc.
Oh, looking at your recipe, you could have had more chocolate to your recipe. I added 1.5 pounds of Dove Dark and Milk chocolate to my recipe. .. its right where I wanted it. Lactose added to the boil helped give it that milkiness as well. . .
Yep, Biermann

My last chocolate stout called for dark chocolate as well as lactose. I find that these flavors need time to age and I brew my stouts with the intention of aging them at least 6 months.

As far as adding chocolate to beer, I think that is the beauty of homebrewing--we can put in anything we want. We don't have to comply with 'purity standards' that imply beer only contain grain, hops, water and yeast. My first chocolate stout was a clone of Rocky Mountain Brewing's chocolate Jitters (jitters because it called for 20 oz. of coffee).

Flycactus, let it age. You'll be glad you did.
Thanks for all the replies. At least I don't feel like I've ruined a good beer. I'll try bringing the temp up a few degrees for a couple more days, maybe rack to the secondary on Sunday.
The cocoa was at the advice of the LHBS. They actually recommended putting up to 16oz in during the last 10 minutes of the boil. Looking back, I'm glad I only put 8oz in, as it seems to have plenty of chocolate taste. Maybe the next time I do this I'll try it with some lactose. I was hoping the oatmeal would help with body and mouth feel.
I don't have any plans to bottle this quickly, most likely it will age in the secondary for at least a month, probably more if it isn't going to cause any problems. I still have about 25 large bottles of my first brew sitting around to drink :drunk: So I'm in no hurry.

Cheers :mug:
I always use 8 oz. in my choc stouts and it has never been overwhelming. You can add lactose to the secondary or when you bottle to compensate for the bitterness of the cocoa. Boil up the amount you want in some water and pour it in. Because it doesn't ferment out, it's an add anytime you want ingredient.
Just an update. The beer has been in the secondary now for 2 weeks and there has been absolutely no activity in the airlock. I didn't expect much anyways. Looks like it is clearing nicely though, with a thin layer of yeast/crud on the bottom of the carboy. This stuff is nearly black in color, a flashlight doesn't show through at all.
I'm going to keep it in the secondary until I have enough empty bottles (Gotta start drinking more :rockin: ) I figure a couple more weeks in the carboy won't hurt it at all and the effort of sanitizing my thief to taste test will keep me from sneaking too much before its really done, but man it's tempting.

Cheers :mug:

You could leave it in secondary for a few months without any problems, as long as you keep sanitizing anything you stick in there.

For the lactose, you could always boil it with your priming sugar to back sweeten your brew some. The lactose isn't fermentable, so adding those sugars will only sweeten at bottling time, not carb. A little bit of lactose will offset some of that bitterness with a little bit of sweet.
Update on the process...

Finally got around to drinking enough of my last batch to have enough bottles to bottle this one. I know it's not a good excuse, but I've been too busy to go buy another case or two of bottles. I managed to get 25 .75l bottles out of this batch, with just a little (one or two glasses) left over to celebrate finally finishing this.

My thoughts on the taste at bottling...Pretty nice stout, though there isn't a lot of chocolate flavor to it. Certainly not like there was when it went into the secondary. The bitterness has eased up some. Much better than when I first pitched. I was seriously thinking it might be undrinkable then. The color is lighter than I first noted...more of a dark chocolate (think Hershey's Special Dark) brown than the black I started with. Is that normal? Anyways, I'm hoping this will be ready to drink (or at least close enough for a sample) by St. Patties Day. I really wish I had the equipment to put nitrogen through this, but alas, SWMBO will not authorize funds for such a system (yet).

I'll be sure to let you know how this turns out in a few weeks.

Cheers :mug:

I just brewed a RIS Chocolet Coffee (Check out the post about "Questions about Chocolet Coffee RIS") I used 8 oz of solid Baker's Semi-Sweet to mine and a lot more hops. I can't wait to taste mine it came out with a O.G. of 1.100. I'll keep mine updated as well. Can't wait to see some pictures of yours in a glass!
:) If you have decent credit you can buy a set of SS pots from Fingerhut and make payment of pay it off. They are just 40.00 You get a set of pots from 1 gallon- 5 gallon Stainless steel pots. Just FYI
go to Beer Tools Pro website and look up a "comparable" chocolatestout recipe, then adjust it to whatever size batch you plan on making. The site calculates the adjustments you need based on their 5 or 10 gallon recipe- granted all recipes are different, but fundamentally similar and you should be able to figure out the adjustments for a smaller batch size
I have had better results staying away from powdered unsweetened chocolate....
Better to buy a candy bar style unsweetened chocolate and melt it.
Also try to split your requirements in half. Add the second half during secondary ferementation. Next time try 4oz at 2 and 2 or 6oz at 3 and 3. 8 ounces just may be a little to much for your liking.
Another update after a little over a week in the bottle. Cracked one open tonight after the local brew club meeting (this months "topic" was stouts appropriately enough) to see how it coming. My first impression is this one may be chalked up as a failure. At least it is nothing like the Young's Double Chocolate I was going for. SWBO claims to taste chocolate in it, but I get overwhelming bitterness. Kinda like coffee that has been left in the pot for too long. It's drinkable, but not exactly pleasant to drink. :( Next time I'll definately add lactose to help sweeten things up a bit. Also more chocolate (perhaps milk chocolate or semi-sweet instead of the unsweetened) to bring out the flavor. Until I get around to trying this one again, I suppose I will leave the rest of this batch to age in the back of my cupboard. Perhaps it will mellow a bit and become (more?) drinkable.

Thanks for the info on the brew pots. I now have a 5gal SS pot thanks to Kirk at Central Arkansas Fermenters. He graciously offered me his old pot after moving on to 10 and 20 gallon batches. :drunk:

Cheers :mug:

Sounds yummy. I have my chocolate stout in the secondary right now, and the samples I've taken were not overly bitter. That might be the differnce between using the cocoa poweder and what I used, which was 8 oz. of semi-sweet baking chocolate at the start of the boil. It has a really good chocolately start, with a nice little hoppy, bitter end. Me gusto mucho!