Batch #1-11: Dry Stout

Style Dry Stout
Ingredients View Here
Brewing Date: Sunday, December 5, 10
Primary Fermentation: Sunday, December 5, 10
Original Gravity: 1.050 @ 60F  (1.0502)
Secondary Fermentation: n/a
Bottling Date: Wednesday, December 15, 10
Final Gravity: 1.034 @ 72F (1.0354)
Release Date: Friday, January 8, 11
Alcohol by volume: 2.4%
Final Release Name: Happy Birthday Robin

The first batch of the year has a special purpose.  It is for my oldest son’s 21st birthday.  It compliments the full steak dinner he also gets.  He chose this beer from the descriptions of beer styles, and it happens to be one of my, like father, like son.  🙂


A fairly straight-forward brewing session. Added 1 cup of corn sugar to boost the alcohol.  Fermentation is using the wick cooling method.

Dec 7 @ 7:30AM — Bubbling bursts are at the expected 3-second interval, with strong bursts.

Dec 13 @ 9:30PM — Got a real surprise.  The bubbling quieted down on Saturday, but the hydrometer reading is 1.034 this evening.  That’s high: only 2.1% ABV.  The wort is a little sweet.  I’m not quite sure what happened, especially since the temperature during fermentation was around 72F.  I decided to seal up the bucket, replace the airlock, and give it a good swirl.  After a few minutes, there was weak bubbling at consistent 1 minute intervals.  I am going to let the bucket sit in the open (no wick cooling) for about 24-48 hours, and see if the hydrometer reading lowers any.  Last year’s batch started at 1.046 (.004 lower) than this year’s batch, but ended up at 1.022 after a week–a full 0.0.12 lower than this.

I will have to do some reading for others’ experience on this.  This is the first time I have encountered a weak fermentation cycle.

Dec 13th @ 11:30pm –After putting my equipment away for the night, I ran into this fine article describing a similar problem to this.  The article mentioned temperature fluctuation, which should not have been a problem.  But one thing very different about this batch is that the yeast was pitched at 60F.  That is about 15-20 degrees lower than normal.  The yeast also did not get quickly engaged (1-3 seconds between bubbling bursts) for 48 hours, so that may have impacted the result.  NOTE TO SELF: always pitch yeast above 70F in the future.

I think the batch is just fine after comparing notes, although I will give it the 48 hours in the fermentation bucket I intended, just in case there is some stuck yeast, etc. While the wort was a little sweet, it was very smooth, tastes fine, and there is zero sign of infection or other problem.

As a side note: reading this article reminded me that in between the 6th and 7th batches this year, I made an unscheduled batch of American Light from a Munton’s malt can (it had about 2 months before the expiration date was due, so it was a “use or it or lose it” batch). Ironically, while I don’t remember the exact OG and FG measurements, the alcohol content was only 2.7%–even after allowing a 0.5% gain during conditioning. And it was one of the smoothest, best tasting beers when it was ready–great for summer. So if this stout is similar, this should be a good batch. And the lower alcohol content may be just what is needed for a 21-year having his first alcoholic drink.

Time will tell.

15 Dec 10:30PM — The bubbling cycles were three minutes apart, so the yeast was doing something, however minor.  The gravity, though, had not changed since Monday. For priming, I used 8oz of corn sugar boiled in water and poured into the bottling bucket before siphoning.  The wort tastes very good, and looked just fine.  Yield was 2x 34oz Ikea snap top clear bottles, one 16oz Grolsch snap top, and 49x 16oz brown bottles with crown caps.  Overall, I am pleased with the outcome.

19 Dec 9:30PM — Decided to crack open a bottle to see how the conditioning is progressing.  The pour generated a large amount of head.  It was about 3/4th of the glass, with those “neat to watch” bubbles racing from the top of the head down into the liquid below.  That is a lot of head for so early in the conditioning.  The taste was good, but it is a a bit sweeter than last year’s batch.

9 Jan — The feedback on this beer was that it was very thick: almost too hard to drink.  Last year’s batch was definitely better.