Thursday, December 23, 2010

American Session Stout - for lack of a better name

Wyeast West Yorkshire ale yeast. It's a new seasonal strain that I think was put out this year or last year for the first time. Jamil Zainacheff has said he really likes the way it works and the flavors produced by it. And I got a pack for free a few months ago from Owen at Wyeast (thanks again). It's still available through the end of December if you are interested in brewing with it. Here's some data from their website:

Wyeast 1469 PC West Yorkshire Ale
This strain produces ales with a full chewy malt flavor and character, but finishes dry, producing famously balanced beers. Expect moderate nutty and stone-fruit esters. Best used for the production of cask-conditioned bitters, ESB and mild ales. Reliably flocculent, producing bright beer without filtration.Attenuation 67-71%
Alc. Tolerance 9%
Flocculation highTemperature Range 64-72°F (18-22°C)

I used it for the first time in the Dark Mild I brewed with the second runnings from our Baltic Porter. It's a solid little beer. I would like to have some more malty sweetness, but that is more recipe based than anything. It's good to drink. The esters are clean, the yeast flocced out hard and cleaned up the beer nicely, both in flavor and clarity.

The yeast is said to have been sourced from Timothy Taylor brewery in West Yorkshire. I haven't tried their beers, but apparently they make some fantastic full-flavored bitters and dark milds. Not one of the beers listed on their website comes in at over 4.3% ABV, so to see beer geeks go gaga over their beers is saying something special. And according to their reviews on Beeradvocate, they are making some phenomenal beers. Not that all this can be attributed to the yeast, in fact I'd argue that's mostly to the brewers' credit.

Judging from the flavor of the dark mild, I would say the West Yorkshire strain is similar to the Wyeast London Ale III in performance and flavor, which supposedly comes from Bodddington's. I have used that in a previous mild, and it's a strain that one of the local breweries uses to make some fantastic hoppy beers. So its uses shouldn't be limited to English style ales, although that is probably what it is best at.

Thinking along the lines of session beer, and something full-flavored enough to stand up to the cold rainy weather we have been dealing with here, I decided to come up with another recipe using the West Yorkshire yeast. I wanted to keep it cheap by using only ingredients I already had. A session stout perhaps, based on the historical stout grists that you can read about on Ron Pattinson's "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" blog. That sounded good. Maybe some woody, piney hops though. But not over-the-top hoppy. I tried to exercise constraint here with all the ingredients, to find a balance of flavors that would be complex yet drinkable. The brown malt should add some toasted bread dryness, as this malt tastes exactly like almost burnt artisan bread crusts. Some roast / coffee / espresso flavors, but not as much as Guinness or a really roasty stout. I left out the crystal, which is a leap of faith, but I want it to be a stout, not a porter.

I am really excited about this beer, but I don't really have an idea of what the final balance of flavors will be. It could be more hoppy or more stouty, or more portery. It's tempting to give it some sarcastic name like "Cascadian dark pale ale" or what have you. But it's not supposed to be Cascadian. It's supposed to be a session historical stout with an American hop twist. I'm fairly certain it will be darn tasty, but only time will tell how if the flavor comes close to my original intention.

Dilation Stout*
Brewed on 12/20/10
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 5.7 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.050 F.G. ABV IBU's 41

6.5 lb. Great Western Organic Pale
1 lb. Munton's Marris Otter
1 lb. Flaked Barley
14 oz. British roasted barley 600L
8 oz. Belgian aromatic malt 25 L
8 oz. British brown malt 70L

21 gr. Chinook whole 14.1% AA 60 min
14 gr. Chinook whole 14.1% AA 0 min
30 gr. Cascade whole 7 % AA 0 min

Mash, 153 for 50 minutes, fell to 149
Sparge with 5 gallons at 170
the only water adjustment was chlorine removal with campden

Collect 7 gallons at 1.041 = 79% efficiency
Boil 90 minutes
Whirlfloc & yeast nutrient at 10 min
Whirlpool/rest 10 minutes after flame off
Chill thru plate chiller over 10 minutes to 60
Oxygen 1 minute
Pitch West Yorkshire 2nd generation
Ferment at 68-69 degrees
1/6/11 Racked to keg, tastes phenomenal but couldn't believe it was still at 1.024!!! WTF, that yeast dropped out super early. I'm going to take another taste, gravity, and decide whether to krausen with more yeast. I need some zwickels on my carboys to take regular gravity samples!

* I brewed this beer right after coming back from the optometrist for my yearly perscription check. The doctor dilated my pupils, to the point where I could hardly see! Check out the picture below. For the most part I had to work without my glasses and squint to see anything. Also if I went to far away from a piece of equipment I had to walk around squinting to find it again. The garden hose, which is white, looked like a glowing electric ghost-line against the ground. Despite visuals worse than any I have ever experienced with drug "experimentation" in my youth, I felt no fun side effects. Gradually the eye dilation drops wore off over 6 hours or so and I could see again. The fur hat I'm wearing in the photo was because it was a really cold day for brewing.

On Deck: Christmas Stay-cation IPA

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