Stout: “Tar Water”

Stout: “Tar Water” bottled 20/11/09. A stout with belgian influences.

I finally got around to brewing a new stout a couple of weeks ago, which was based on a rather experimental idea that I had after reading some more of “brew like a monk”, or so I thought, but it turns out I didn’t get the idea there but from Michael Jackson’s site. The belgian beer Duvel uses yeast originally cultured from the scottish ale McEwans. “Brew like a Monk” says it is only one strain, but Michael Jackson gives the following account

The original McEwans symbiosis of strains has over the years been narrowed to two yeasts, and both are used in primary fermentation. The brew is divided into two separate batches, one for each yeast. These two batches are not of equal sizes. This procedure is just one of the many peculiarities that make Duvel such a distinctive beer.

So I was intrigued by the idea of splitting the batch, fermenting with separate yeasts and then recombining. Further inspiration came from the idea that Orval add some brett strain to their batches before bottling, which gives it the musty aftertaste. Furthermore I had read that some stouts including Guinness combine a soured portion to the main batch to give it a little bite. The Beernut told me that Guinness use something like lactic acid to achieve this effect now. Les Howarth answered a question I had on the ICB forum about mixing yeast strains, and also as it happens, wrote an interesting article for BYO on the subject. (BYO Dec 09 p46)

In any case, I brewed a stout, along the following lines.

5910g Pale Malt
870g Brown Malt (home roasted)
400g Oat Flakes
350g Roasted Barley (home roasted)
330g Black Malt
205g Wheat Flour
165g Amber Malt (home roasted)

64g EKG (4.8) 60 mins, 48g EKG 30 mins, 48g EKG 10 mins
(40 EBU)

28L, OG 1.064

I fermented 25L with Wyeast ‘Forbidden Fruit’ (4L starter), and the rest (3L) with some Orval yeast that I cultured from a bottle, it smelled quite bretty. The main part was fermented at 18c, the Orval portion slightly higher.  I recombined them when they both hit terminal gravity of 1.010. I let the whole thing sit for a day or two before bottling.

Preliminary tasting definitely has some brett character, which reminds me of some of my favourite stouts, and the sour character was something I had definitely been missing before. My stouts had been malty, and often had that roasty bitterness, but never the sour element. I hope that the taste will develop more with some conditioning, I understand that beers containing brettanomyces can undergo complex changes with time.

I called it “Tar Water”. The Irish philosopher George Berkeley in his later years wrote a treatise on Tar Water called “Siris: Philosophical reflexions and inquiries concerning the virtues of tar-water, and divers other subjects connected together and arising from one another” (1744) and “Further Thoughts on Tar-water” (1752). Tar water was a drink made from watered down pine sap, which is mildly antiseptic but which Berkeley hailed as a more general panacea. None of that has anything to do with my stout, but since I study philosophy in my non-brewing life, and have a fondness for Berkeley, I always thought “tar water” sounds like it might be a dark, rich brew. Furthermore I found a fantastically quotable passage in the introduction to serve as a recommendation of my drink:

“There are, nevertheless, three sorts of people to whom I would particularly recommend it: seafaring persons, ladies, and men of studious and sedentary lives”



Filed under Beer, Recipe, Yeast

2 responses to “Stout: “Tar Water”

  1. Pingback: Beer for Deer « Stout Fellow!

  2. Pingback: Review like a Monk « Stout Fellow!

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