Fall is in full swing here in Phoenix. Our definition of Fall is quite different from a lot of the country (80s and sunshine), but the nights are cooling off, which is putting me in the mood for a dark roasty beer. I started flipping through my brew log looking for some inspiration, as I often do. Literally 50 pages deep, still digging for something, I realized it had been nearly three years since I last brewed a milk stout. A milk stout it is. Never one to leave well-enough alone, I decided to throw in some cacao nibs as well; Milk Chocolate Stout does have a nice ring to it.
My last milk stout was good but not great. It was too roasty, and a little too dry. I mashed around 152*, and used mostly Roasted Barley for the color and flavor. As best as I can tell, that gave it a slightly astringent taste. It could have been my water at the time, but who knows. This time around I really wanted a smoother, more chocolate-like character, so I’m using mostly Chocolate and Carafa malts to get the color. There’s a little roasted barley in there, as well as some Munich and Crystal for complexity. We obviously need some lactose, and I’m using a full pound of it in this recipe. Despite the hefty amount of un-fermentables, I’m also bumping the mash temp up to 155-156* with the hope of this beer finishing around 1.023 or so.
My brew day was nice and easy. I’m finally filling back up my pipeline of beers after the wedding, which is a good feeling as well. Also, the ground water temps are cooling down to the high 70s, which is making chilling the wort much more pleasant. Anyway, I did a 60 minute rest, got a good runoff, added the lactose, and boiled for 60 minutes. I chilled this down to 60F, and added about 250B cells of WLP090. Then some O2, and into the fermentation fridge at 17.2C.
1lb Chocolate Malt
10oz Dark Munich
8oz Roasted Barley
8oz Carafa III Special
8oz English Medium Crystal
Mash @ 155*
1oz Apollo @60
WLP090 – Super San Diego Yeast
6oz Cacao Nibs in the Secondary
This fermented very fast. I’m not exactly sure why, but this beer took off much quicker than I’m used to with WLP090 despite the cool temps. I’d say fermentation was pretty much done after 48hrs. More out of laziness than anything, I let the wort hangout in the fermentor for a week before I racked it into a secondary to add the 6oz of cacao nibs. I let that go for another week before crashing the secondary to drop the nibs, and racking to keg. After some gelatin, CO2, and a week’s worth of time, it was tasting pretty good.
I’m honestly pleasantly surprised with how this turned out. I was worried the chocolate would be either overbearing or absent, but it melds in very well. The aroma smells pretty much like a milk chocolate shake. There’s some malty aromas, and a little roastiness, but ya….milk chocolate. The flavor is more stout-like than the aroma. There’s definitely some roastiness, but it edges less towards the coffee end of the spectrum, and more towards the chocolate side. No hop flavor to note. The lactose comes in at the end, both in flavor and mouthfeel. The head isn’t quite as good as I hoped it would be, but I can live with that.
Overall, this is a really nice beer, and a great way to enjoy the cooler temps at night on the porch with a cigar. I’m definitely curious to see how this does entered as a 23A beer in some competitions, so I’m entering it in two over the next month. We’ll see.