Brew Day: Banshee Breakfast Stout

The advantages a commercial brewer has over most homebrewers are evident. Better equipment, better quality controls, greater knowledge and experience are a few that come to mind. Commercial brewing is also highly regulated. That can give the homebrewer more latitude to be creative. One example is that it is illegal for a commercial brewer to add hard alcohol directly to their beer. The increasing popularity of barrel aging is a way commercial brewers add the flavor and character of a particular spirit without blending the spirit directly into the beer. However, there is nothing that stops a homebrewer from adding hard alcohol to his/her beer.

My favorite aspect of brewing is researching and developing recipes. I have probably made twice as many recipes as I have brewed batches. One recipe I have wanted to brew for years was called “Patriot’s Day Breakfast Stout”. It is a Founders Breakfast Stout-like beer, but with some New England touches. A perfect beer to enjoy when the Red Sox take the field at 11:00 a.m. on Patriot’s Day. Recently I looked over the recipe for the first time in at least a year. My concern was that there were too many ingredients and too many flavors in the recipe. If there are too many flavors in a beer the overall flavor can be muddled.

When developing a recipe, you can adhere to a style, take inspiration from a particular beer, or you can start with a flavor in mind. I decided to refocus my recipe and make an Irish Coffee-flavored stout. In an Irish Coffee there is the underlying coffee flavor, creaminess and sweetness from the Irish Cream, and of course Irish whiskey! As a homebrewer I can add Jameson directly to my beer. Having never added booze to my beer, this is uncharted territory. I’ll start by adding a cup at bottling, and go up from there until I have the flavor I want.

If I add Bailey’s to the beer, the cream will curdle. I will try to replicate the flavor with copious amounts of flaked oats and light Crystal malt. The only dark malts will be roasted barley and black malt which will provide coffee notes that will complement the actual coffee. Like Founders does in their Breakfast Stout, I will add coffee at two stages: Peet’s French Roast beans after the boil, and Kona coffee added seven days before packaging. I cracked the beans to expose more of the surface area to the wort, and steeped the beans in the still hot, but not boiling wort.

At around 8% alcohol by volume the beer is going to be rich and full-bodied. Brewing at home the only way I can brew that big of a beer is to use plenty of malt extract. To get the flaked oat character I had to do a partial mash. With 2:3 ratio of flaked oats to base malt I am using 6-row barley, which with its higher protein and enzyme content will help convert more of the starches in the oats into fermentable sugars.

I pitched plenty of 1084 Irish Ale yeast and the beer was bubbling away at 70F. I could have made ye beer higher in alcohol, but I didn’t want this beer to be a slow sipper. The Jameson will also contribute to the alcohol content.

See the full recipe here

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