As the blog closes in on its one year anniversary, this is a first. This is the first beer I brewed for the site that I am rebrewing.
As my flagship beer, I need to have some Curly’s Milk Stout on hand at all times. My original brew day was last November and I am down to my last dozen or so bottles. The nice thing about a balanced stout as opposed to an IPA or hoppy pale ale is that the beer keeps relatively well as hop aroma and hop flavor are the first things to go in a beer. If you buy a six month old bottle of Peeper at a bottle shop, then find Peeper served fresh on draught, it is a completely different experience.
Curly’s Milk Stout works because all the ingredients contribute to the overall flavor. It’s a stout so there is plenty of malt flavor, but the variety of malts contribute more than just a one-dimensional “roasted” character. The hop flavor from the Northern Brewer and Fuggles were evident without being overpowering. The unique esters from the Burton Ale yeast enhance the sweetness from the lactose.
The only quibble I had with my last batch was that the initial tan, frothy head would disappear in short order. Household dish-soaps designed to rinse off easily can have a similar effect on beer foam. If there was any soapy residue on my kettle, fermenter, or bottles that could be a cause. In recent batches I have made extra precaution to thoroughly rinse my cleaned bottles before sanitizing. For this batch I substituted a half pound of my base American 2-row barley for unmalted flaked barley to see if that makes a difference in the head retention.
Brew day was fairly smooth. The last batch was before I had my new 8 gallon kettle. Since I am able to boil a greater percentage of the wort, I had to adjust the bittering hops to make sure the beer has the same bitterness as the last batch. The only other hiccup was that I was short one pound of dry extract, so I had to substitute one pound of pilsen dry extract. At such a small percentage in such a dark beer, I doubt the difference will be noticeable.
Splitting batches is a great way to create more than one beer at a time. My plan is to brew a five gallon batch and split off one gallon each to blend with chocolate and coffee. I am still working on the details of what coffee and chocolate I’ll use and how I’ll blend them. The end result will be three gallons of regular milk stout, one gallon of coffee milk stout, and one gallon of chocolate milk stout.