November 20, 2010

Short and Stout

Oh, apparently we made a batch of stout and I forgot to say anything. I could make all sorts of excuses for why this update is more than a month overdue, but one interesting excuse is that this batch seemed almost effortless. We decided to make it and then did so, and it all seemed to breeze by without undue effort or noteworthy details.

Basically, it went like this: we decided to catch up with the cooling fall weather by brewing another batch of the stout from the year before, but this time with a tweaked recipe. We ordered up 8 oz. crushed black patent malt, 4 oz. roasted barley, 2 cans of Cooper's Dark Malt Extract, 1.5 lb. light dry malt extract, 1.5 oz. Northern Brewer hops, 1/2 oz. Cascade hops, 1/2 oz. Fuggles hops and some yeast. The grains and malts were essentially identical to our initial stout, but we altered the hops profile to make it a little more robust.

And like I said, it turned out to be one of our easiest brews, with even the cool-down working out pretty quickly; the bottling was mostly a breeze, too. Which makes it hard to say, exactly, why this particluar batch turned out to be so...OK.

Don't get me wrong--it tastes pretty damn good, with a nice full body, a good aroma and a clean finish. But something about this stout didn't break past good into great. Did we pay insufficient attention to some part of our easy-breezy brewing? Was our hopping change not entirely for the better? Was something off with one or more of the ingredients? Or was it just one of those things? Take a look:

My guess is that it just kind of happened this way. Hey, we're not pros, and not every batch turns out exactly the way we intended. This one seems a bit more high-alcohol than the last stout, and that might be it right there. But I'm not complaining: it's a fine stout, one worthy of the 2JB name...even if it doesn't quite scale the heights of the Grape Nuts Ale, Ale to the Chief or its other brothers in brew.

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