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Stout recipe - advice please and questions

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Noob_Brewer

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Finally getting around to brewing this first stout. Im taking @Dgallo advice for a "standard" stout for the grain bill. My goal with this is to try the recipe without any secondary type flavorings and use just the grains so that I can see what it brings and modify from there on future batches. Simply want a nice balance/blend of smooth roastiness, coffee, and some chocolate from the grains. Here is what I have:

Grain Bill
Base Malt (75% target):
2-row (rahr) 50.6%,​
Pale Ale Malt (Briess) 24.1%​
Roasted Grains (12% target):
Roasted Barley (Briess) 3.6%​
Carafa Special III dehusked (Weyermann) 4.8%​
Chocolate Wheat huskless (Weyermann) 3.6%​
Mid-dark crystal / specialty malts (5-7% target):
Caramel Munich 60L (Briess) 3.6%​
Special B 2.4%​
Body Building (6-8%)
Flaked oats (7.2%)​

Hops
Centennial in the boil (60min, 30min, 5min) - targeting 75IBUs

Yeast
2 packs of S05, rehydrated prior to pitching in oxygenated wort.

Water Chemistry
Target profile is "Black Full >30SRM": Ca=50, Mg=5, Na=33, Sulfate=35, Chloride=45, Bicarbs=140.0
Using beersmith after adjustments i have: Ca=36,Mg=2, Na=60.7, Sul=40.9, Chloride=52.9, Bicarbs=129.5
The Ca seemed low so I adjusted Chloride and sulfate targets to 75 and 60 and came up with: Ca=50.4, Mg=5.6, Na=60.7, Sulfate=59.9, Chloride=74.8, Bicarbs=129.5. Does this appear good? Seems it but any water advice is helpful since Ive read everywhere and it seems stout water chemistry targets can be all over the place.

Others: Ph target is 5.5, OG = 1.087, FG = 1.019 ~9%ABV

Questions:
Grain Bill: I initially had the roasted grains a 50/50 split with barley and carafe special III, but not knowing how much chocolate notes Id get, I threw in the midnight wheat. I can be convinced either way on this one.
When to throw in the roasted malts: Ive read it both ways - mash everything at once vs do some sort of steep of the roasted grains separately first. My inclination is to mash it all together for the 90minute mash. Thoughts?

Appreciate the advice!
 
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palmtrees

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I know folks have gotten good results both with mashing everything together and with steeping the roast malt separately. Just make sure that you are adjusting your water accordingly. Your salt additions will need to be very different if you keep the roasted malt separate because they won't be driving down the mash ph. I have always mashed everything together out of laziness and it has been fine. You just generally need to add some baking soda to keep the ph up. But no need for that if you steep separately.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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appreciate the insight. Yeah, when I started thinking of splitting the roasted malts to steep on own or add later in the mash I thought this would cause havoc in water chemistry additions, so mashing everything at once keeps it simple. Beersmith is showing me the adjusted mash pH with water and grains etc would be 5.55 and my target is 5.50 - so we will see. If by any chance by pH in the mash is too low, is it common to just add baking soda on the fly to adjust it? This is what Ive done from time to time with lactic acid with my IPAs to keep the Ph at a target of 5.35. Just don't want to screw up my water profile by being overzealous. Thanks.
 

McKnuckle

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I like the way you have gone with percentages for base, dark roast, crystal, and body. That's one of the ways I approach stouts and porters as well. The 5.5 mash pH is spot on. The water profile looks fine as well, with baseline 50 ppm Ca achieved via a slight bias towards CaCl vs. gypsum. Definitely mash it all together, and don't try to "fix" anything on the fly. If you think the pH might be slightly too high, reduce the amount of baking soda (Na) so the pH estimate is 5.48-5.5.

My only critique is with the number of malts you've chosen. It's a bit of a kitchen sink affair. And if you're trying to evaluate the malts, you'll have a hard time. The two base malts and the oats are fine. It's the roasted and the crystal where you've tossed in all these options.

The dark roasted is where you need to decide on a basic flavor profile - coffee, chocolate, tangy, or minimal impact. Roasted barley is tangy and sharp. Coffee and chocolate are a bit more complicated, in that some types of choc. malt bring more of a bright/coffee roast and some are deeper chocolate. Brown malt is useful for coffee as well. The de-husked malts like Carafa Special, Chocolate Wheat, and Blackprinz are meant to be smooth, adding more color than flavor in small doses.

So here, you have roasted barley, which is the most flavorful of the three, and a couple of the "mostly color" malts. They may or may not contribute something you can perceive.

With the crystal malts, you have American C60L (medium, brighter caramel) and Special B, a raisin/toffee crystal with a dark/strong character. I think I would pick one.

So, what are you looking for in terms of basic flavor? And that can help clarify your goals.
 

palmtrees

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I thought this would cause havoc in water chemistry additions
Yeah, when I started thinking of splitting the roasted malts to steep on own or add later in the mash I thought this would cause havoc in water chemistry additions
I wouldn't say it will cause havoc. It actually should make your additions simpler because your grains would just be pale base malt, and that won't be pulling down the mash ph so much. But since you've already worked out your additions for a full mash, no reason not to go with that.
 

bracconiere

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i skipped over other comments, but i love the special b addition. but just wanted to say i just had GREAT luck with a cereal mash adition of brown rice with roast barley. definetly going to be a trick i use more often.

might want to try it out instead of the oats. kinda went with the roast barley like salt and food.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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I like the way you have gone with percentages for base, dark roast, crystal, and body. That's one of the ways I approach stouts and porters as well. The 5.5 mash pH is spot on. The water profile looks fine as well, with baseline 50 ppm Ca achieved via a slight bias towards CaCl vs. gypsum. Definitely mash it all together, and don't try to "fix" anything on the fly. If you think the pH might be slightly too high, reduce the amount of baking soda (Na) so the pH estimate is 5.48-5.5.

My only critique is with the number of malts you've chosen. It's a bit of a kitchen sink affair. And if you're trying to evaluate the malts, you'll have a hard time. The two base malts and the oats are fine. It's the roasted and the crystal where you've tossed in all these options.

The dark roasted is where you need to decide on a basic flavor profile - coffee, chocolate, tangy, or minimal impact. Roasted barley is tangy and sharp. Coffee and chocolate are a bit more complicated, in that some types of choc. malt bring more of a bright/coffee roast and some are deeper chocolate. Brown malt is useful for coffee as well. The de-husked malts like Carafa Special, Chocolate Wheat, and Blackprinz are meant to be smooth, adding more color than flavor in small doses.

So here, you have roasted barley, which is the most flavorful of the three, and a couple of the "mostly color" malts. They may or may not contribute something you can perceive.

With the crystal malts, you have American C60L (medium, brighter caramel) and Special B, a raisin/toffee crystal with a dark/strong character. I think I would pick one.

So, what are you looking for in terms of basic flavor? And that can help clarify your goals.
Appreciate the insight and suggestions @McKnuckle .

I think you are right with the roasted malts (3 different ones). I do think I will go back to what I had with 50/50 of roasted barley and carafe special III and drop the chocolate wheat. No reason really to go for the chocolate flavor profile with this beer I think. The reason why I wanted a 50/50 split here is because I knew that roasted barley is strong and assertive (sharp) with the roast. While I like this, I just wanted to balance it out with the caraffa special III which by its description is more of a smooth bitterness "espresso-like bouquet, coffee, and chocolate flavors with a mild but noticeable roasted aftertaste". So I see caraffa special III to "tame" the sharpness of the roasted barley while adding some of the expresso type notes I like. I do like an assertive but smooth coffee roastiness overall. I agree you are right in that with multiple grains within each category I won't be able to pick out individual grains though. What I heard you say here is new to me though: Are you saying that carafe special doesn't add these aromas/flavors and are merely used for color, or are you just comparing them to roasted barley? In the end, I have all these grains on hand, so I need to just break open the bags and chew on some of them to get a feel for them myself rather than just relying on descriptions I guess.

With regard to the caramel/crystal category, after talking to a couple people here, I became really intrigued by the dark fruit (raisin/fig) that I know special B can bring to the table which can make a stout richer in flavor as well as simply add some complexity/depth so that the stout isn't a "one-note" type stout. However, Ive read (not my experience talking here) that adding too much special B can be overpowering and/or harsh/ burnt marshmallow/toast etc, so the Caramel Munich 60L simply was used to "fill out" the rest of this category % in my mind. So I was treating the addition of special B like a chocolate malt where a little goes a long way.

So in the end, Im simply wanting to have a nice robust stout that doesn't taste like a mouthful of sharp roastiness (my fear with using 100% roasted barley in the roasted category). Im liking the thought of smooth expresso-type roast with rich dark fruit notes in the background. If I can pick out any dark chocolate cocoa notes from these grains then so be it as it would only compliment the profile but wasn't intended on being my focus.

Again - I appreciate your insight and being new to the stout game myself, I know I gotta lot to learn.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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i skipped over other comments, but i love the special b addition. but just wanted to say i just had GREAT luck with a cereal mash adition of brown rice with roast barley. definetly going to be a trick i use more often.

might want to try it out instead of the oats. kinda went with the roast barley like salt and food.
lol thanks for the reply. #1 - Ive seen ya talking/trolling up to others here on HBT about the brown rice of yours :) but I will gladly skip on that. #2 - I love oats maybe as much as you love the brown rice, so will retain the oats and skip the brown rice. ;) .
 

McKnuckle

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I'm on a stout kick myself right now. Stouts are so complex and interesting. And surprising. Sometimes you will add a lot of something that you're afraid will overwhelm the beer, yet it ends up being smooth as silk. Other times a relatively low percentage of something else will stand out and be too assertive.

You sound very thoughtful and seem to have good perspective on your choices. It's fun to get people's input, but in the end, just go for it. See what your ideas produce. You can go from there with the next one.

I didn't mean to imply that Carafa is a character-less malt. It's not, and I have the II and III in my stable (not the "special" ones, though). Those malts are great when you want a color boost with smooth roastiness. Frankly, they can be the only dark malt you use in many beers. My next experiment will be with Blackprinz, which is supposed to be similar.

I tend to brew stouts and porters in the English tradition, so I usually use the UK crystal malts, which have a rich and different flavor from the standard Briess products. My current stout has 12% English Crystal 150L, and you'd think that would be "blech" but nope, it's super interesting. This stout also has 7% brown malt, 3% pale chocolate, and 4.5% black treacle along with the pale ale base malt. It's very dark ruby red in the light and has a candy fruit tang in the flavor profile. Note - no dark roast at all in that grain bill. :)
 
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Noob_Brewer

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I'm on a stout kick myself right now. Stouts are so complex and interesting. And surprising. Sometimes you will add a lot of something that you're afraid will overwhelm the beer, yet it ends up being smooth as silk. Other times a relatively low percentage of something else will stand out and be too assertive.

You sound very thoughtful and seem to have good perspective on your choices. It's fun to get people's input, but in the end, just go for it. See what your ideas produce. You can go from there with the next one.

I didn't mean to imply that Carafa is a character-less malt. It's not, and I have the II and III in my stable (not the "special" ones, though). Those malts are great when you want a color boost with smooth roastiness. Frankly, they can be the only dark malt you use in many beers. My next experiment will be with Blackprinz, which is supposed to be similar.

I tend to brew stouts and porters in the English tradition, so I usually use the UK crystal malts, which have a rich and different flavor from the standard Briess products. My current stout has 12% English Crystal 150L, and you'd think that would be "blech" but nope, it's super interesting. This stout also has 7% brown malt, 3% pale chocolate, and 4.5% black treacle along with the pale ale base malt. It's very dark ruby red in the light and has a candy fruit tang in the flavor profile. Note - no dark roast at all in that grain bill. :)
Very interesting on the variety of approaches as Ive read/studied lots on how these stouts are designed. I do appreciate your initial post though as it got my gears running on the actual flavor profile more in depth as opposed to simply filling in the %s for each category so to speak. Im sure the beer will end up....well...being beer! After this experience, I will modify in areas I want to emphasize etc.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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Separate question - this beer im planning is on the low end of the "imperial" range and beersmith is estimating a 9.0% ABV (OG 1.087, FG 1.020). Ive read that for BIGG beers, a second shot of oxygenation is necessary a few days after the initial pitch. But for this beer, I wouldn't think this is necessary as the estimated attenuation is 77% AA which is in the middle of the range for S05. So will this be needed? I wouldn't think so, but thoughts on why this is done would be helpful for me but especially educational for @bracconiere to get the most out of his brown rice stouts. :eek::cool:
 

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I hardly ever brew big beers, so I'm not an expert... But I am too leery of post-pitch oxygenation to try that. I would just make sure to aerate enough at the beginning, and pitch a generous blob of healthy yeast. I'm sure the US-05 will do a good job for you. In the British tradition, these dark beers often include a healthy portion of brewing (invert) sugar in addition to malt, so attenuation usually works out, all other things being equal.
 
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Looks very good but you might consider mixing in your dark grains at the end of the mash before sparging.
I also see no need to rehydrate US-05. Just direct pitch it dry. Also no need to oxygenate your wort. Both are recommended by Fermentis.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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Thanks for all advice. Just brewed this up today and because of a process change in order to do a big beer like this, I ended up being much more efficient than expected. so rather than 1.087 OG, it is now 1.093! Even though I understand it always isn't necessary to rehydrate dry yeast (Im using S05), Im thinking that rehydrating 2 packs in sterile (pre-boiled and cooled water) will dilute the OG to 1.091 based on the brewers friend calculator taking into account my volume. I actually want this because my IBUs were set to 75 IBUs for a 9% beer, but now (dependent on S05 attenuation) it will be upwards of 9.5-10.0% perhaps so hoping the bitterness is adequate. Question: is 2 packs of rehydrated yeast still enough? Thanks.
 
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Noob_Brewer

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forgot to update this, but here is my first stout. In the end it was 9.4% ABV (was suppose to be 9.0%) due to an overshoot of my mash/lauter efficiency. Ended up with an FG of 1.022. its been kegged now for about 4.5weeks and has shaped up nicely. I consider it a success in achieving a very nice Imperial Stout. The only changes I made from the Original post was that i went 4.8%, 4.8%, 2.4% for roasted barley/carafa special III/chocolate wheat.

Overall, its nice and bold roastiness (assertive, but not sharp), with killer silky mouthfeel with some cocoa notes in the background. Not getting as much of the dark fruit notes as I was hoping but getting a tiny bit (probably because Im actually looking for it though lol i.e. confirmation bias). The roastiness is present and somewhat assertive but not sharp. The flaked oats was great for the slick/silky mouthfeel.

For my next version, and for what im trying to get out of this "base" imperial stout, Im thinking:
  • to back off the roasted barley just a tad in favor of a little more chocolate malt (not neccessarily chocolate wheat next time), I would like a little more chocolate but didn't want to overdo it on this first attempt.
  • lower the caramel munich in favor of adding more special B, perhaps lower the mid-dark crystal category to 5% instead of 6% and just use the special B, and
  • back off the flaked oats a bit and add some flaked barley to help with head retention. The pic shows a decently "low" head, but head retention sucks ass lol.

Appreciate the general blueprint/guidance on my first ever stout @Dgallo and all! this has been a great adventure and now the tweaking begins! FWIW, my wife likes it a lot! Thats key because she's generous enough to support my hobby. :)

Cheers!
 

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