This is my second attempt at a sweet stout, the first was a partial mash oatmeal stout, this was a small biab all grain batch designed from a recipe found on beersmithrecipes.com. I made a few changes to my recipe for scaling, in an attempt to smooth it out. I swapped roast barley out for caraffa II, and had to use London ale yeast wy1028, instead of the whitbread strain wy1099. The brew day went as expected, but fermentation crapped out early, leaving a high amount of residual sweetness. When we first had it and it was ok, albeit monotone, it had no bite. My wife thought it was ok, but not great. We compared it side by side to Wachusette milk stout, and it lacked complexity, and was too syrupy.
I wasn’t satisfied, so in an attempt to add complexity, I dosed the keg with cold pressed coffee and a 1/2 vanilla bean. I think the coffee watered down the beer too much, but didn’t add the bite I was hoping for. I used a lightly roasted floral kenyan coffee, when I should have just used a sumatra or espresso roast to match the roast of the grains. The aroma is all mocha, the taste is kinda like coffee milk soda. The initial head is pillowy and brown. There is virtually no carbonation retention. This is what I’d consider a low twenty point beer. Yet again I’ve missed the mark in my attempt to create a thick creamy, low abv sweet stout for my wife to enjoy. The good thing about this is that it’s only 3g, I should be able to kick it soon, and be onto my next attempt at brewing a dark sweet beer for T.
My planned changes: Bring back the roast barley, and keep the caraffa, cut the lactose in 1/2. I’m not sure how I’ll adjust the coffee. I’ll need to do some sensory testing to determine if it’s worth doing. I’ll use a dark roasted coffee with a higher concentration extract. I’m not sure about yeast, if I will try it with wy 1099, since the wy1028 crapped out, and it was supposed to be more attenuative. I’ll be sure to aerate more fully, and keep the fermentation temps higher so yeast doesn’t stall out. If it does, I’ll pitch some us05.
Update 3/16/13: I tasted this again and it turns out it isn’t too bad. Actually it smells great, and tastes pretty good to. The carbonation seems sorted, and the flavors seem to have melded. I commented below, but I’m still on the fence if I’m going to brew this recipe again.
What was your measured FG? I noticed your recipe program calls for an estimated FG of 1.011, but since lactose is completely unfermentable, I think this may be off. I know my recipe program did the same thing for my Milk Stout… I used 1 lb for a 5.5 gallon batch. A bit more, percentage-wise, than you used, but my target FG was actually 1.024 as a result of the lactose.
I hadn’t changed the specs of the lactose in the program, so I think it called for a FG of 1.016.
Measured FG was 1028. Beer smith doesn’t calculate lactose correctly, so it says 1013 as an estimated fg, removing it from the recipe it only added 6pts, so I should have been in the low 1020’s. I think it was an aeration issue. Since the stout didn’t have a whole lot of hops, I didn’t do my usual whirlpool, or have to filter it going into the fermentor. It also could have been a high mash temp, it’s hard to control temp on the stove top in a pot / biab.
I’m still searching for a good sweet stout for my lady. I think I’ll try a different recipe next time, I’m unsure if I’ll use lactose or make an oatmeal stout. The body of oatmeal stouts is just undeniably good.
Was just looking at your recipe… I don’t have a lot of experience with Sweet Stouts (brewing or drinking), but I don’t think you should have to cut your lactose in half. If you hit your target FG, hopefully it wouldn’t be TOO sweet, but would still have the body and touch of sweetness you’d be looking for. I think I read somewhere that lactose is actually about 1/6 as sweet as sucrose anyway…?
My recipe that I used was from BCS. Majority of Maris Otter, then 1 lb Black Patent, 0.75 lb Crystal 60 L, and 0.5 lb Chocolate (although, the ~350 L, not the pale chocolate malt that you used… I assume it was that, at 200 L?), plus the 1 lb lactose. I was also able to get the 1099 Whitbread, not sure if that would make a difference or not. Haven’t brewed it or another Sweet Stout since then, almost 3 years ago.
so… I finally got back to drinking this some more and it’s actually come back around. I wonder if my prior tastings were too close to the coffee and vanilla additions? Either way, I’m on the fence about brewing this beer again. I appreciate your point about lactose volume, I’ll keep that in mind. There is just so much about it I’m unhappy with, even with the right sweetness, it lacks the body I was hoping for. I’m thinking going back to an oatmeal, stout recipe. It’ll have to wait, I won’t want a stout on in summer.