Well, every homebrewer has to have a fail at some point in his or her brewing “career.” Well, here’s my first. And it all comes down to infection.
But some technique didn’t help matters any either. Though this was supposed to come out a stout, the color of it had it come out as more of a…dark brown ale. More on that in a bit. But it seems I should have steeped the grains a little longer, and maybe gotten them milled a little longer. Hard to tell.
What’s even more frustrating is that none of the flavors I wanted really turned out. So there’s also issues to the recipe to work out here. But hey, that’s part of the fun of this. Figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and how to make it work is half the fun of this little hobby. The other half, of course, is drinking what works!Original Recipe/Brewday
Appearance: (2/5) An uncharacteristically thin, white head rises to the top of an unusually transparent stout. Doesn’t hang around all that long, either. I’m not sure if this is a result of the Whirlfloc/Irish Moss I added toward the end in order to get excess protein out, or if I didn’t steep the grains long enough (20 mins, I expected, should be good, but I’ve been reading lately of people steeping as long as 60 mins), or if the grain crusher at my local Northern Brewer store isn’t set right (or clean). I’m leaning more toward option 2, especially since a more experienced brewer at the Belle City Homebrewers and Vintners Club that I’ve started attending mentioned the excessive clarity of the White House Honey Porter I brewed from a kit as my first.
Aroma: (1.5/5) Maltiness and roastiness in the nose is completely ruined by the astringency. It smells like a combination of medicine and burned plastic. Both key signs of infection. For the record, the burned plastic smell is also considered a product of chlorophenols (resulting from excessive chlorine in the water), but Milwaukee’s water profile only lists a chlorine amount of about 1.05mg/L, which is pretty normal. And since I’ve never had this issue in other beers using the same water, and the smell also being a product of wild yeast, that’s what I’m mostly thinking.
Taste: (1.5/5) And that medicinal/burned plastic aroma is also present (as expected) in the taste. I get a little of the coffee taste from the cold-brewed coffee added in, but not as much as I would like. What’s more, the sweetness that should be present from the pound of unfermentable lactose…is missing. Either that, or it’s completely overshadowed by the off tastes. Either way, no gusta.
Drinkability/Mouthfeel: (1/5) No sense in dabbling around here. This is undrinkable. And this batch will, sadly, wind up in the sink.
Design: (3/5) Not bad, but I could, and should, have done better. I like the AU LAIT! part, and the color choices, but the font for the “Cream Coffee Stout” didn’t turn out as I’d have liked, and is going to get replaced when I take a stab at this one again. But I’m giving it a 3 largely because I like the way the color palette turned out.
Overall: (9/25) Overall? It’s a disaster turned into a learning opportunity. Next time around, I’m going to steep the grains longer, watch the sanitation closer, and I’m thinking of swapping out the coffee for coffee-roast malt (and maybe a little chocolate malt). Hopefully that will get the lactose sweetness to come out more, and make this more like I was thinking. C’est la vie!