Time to make the Stout

In 1998, the story goes, I was writing for Brew Your Own magazine. I had done a couple of feature articles on “cloning” beers – reader favorites, classics from Great Britain, etc. and had a regular column where each month I would design a recipe so that the readers could “replicate” a favorite beer. I got a call from Storey Books, asking if I would be interested in doing a whole book of “clone” recipes. They had just published “Clone Brews” by Mark & Tess Szamatulski, and wanted to do a follow-up that would be just beers of the US and Canada. I think I hesitated a few hours, not really sure if I was up to the task of a whole book (they wanted 150 recipes!)… Eventually, inevitably, I agreed. Thus began a year and a half of arduous, grueling research. More on that later.

One of the beers I encountered for the first time in seeking recipes for “North American Clone Brews” was Stony Man Stout, brewed by Shenandoah Brewing in Alexandria, Virginia. I don’t remember how I got a ahold of this beer, having never been to Virginia. But I was glad I did. Interestingly, Shenandoah now calls this beer a “creamy oatmeal stout” – not sure it was when I tasted it in 1999! I guess I’ll have to track down another bottle and try it now…

This recipe produces a nice dry stout, Irish in character, dark, mildly bitter, smooth and slightly sour… a real thirst-quencher, and relatively easy and quick to brew. With St. Patrick’s Day about a month off, it’s time to make the stout.

Stony Man Stout
5 gallons, all-grain

Ingredients:

  • 7 lbs. Maris Otter 2-row pale malt
  • 8 oz. 120°L crystal malt
  • 8 oz. roasted barley
  • 4 oz. chocolate malt
  • 4 oz. black patent malt
  • 10.6 AAU’s Northern Brewer hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 5.8 AAU’s Willamette hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • White Labs Irish Ale yeast (WLP004)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure:
Crush the grains. Heat 15 quarts of water to 168°F. Mash in grains, hold 75 minutes at 158°F. Runoff and sparge with 13 quarts of water at 170°F. Collect a total of 24 – 26 quarts of sweet wort. Bring to boil, add the Northern Brewer hops. Boil 45 minutes, add the Willamette hops. Boil 15 minutes (60 total), remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour vigorously into your sanitized fermenter, pitch the yeast, seal and ferment at 60- 65°F for 7 – 10 days. Rack to secondary, age 7 – 10 more days at 55 – 60°F.. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and condition 7 – 10 days.

OG: 1053
IBU’s: 53

Style notes: The obvious reference point for Irish stout is, of course, Guinness. The distinct, slightly sour taste of Guinness, beloved by many, hated by almost as many, comes (you probably know this, right?) from a unique step in the aging process. The brewers at St. James Gate blend into the new beer a certain percentage (roughly 3%, it is said) of pasteurized soured stout. Don’t try this at home!

Brewing notes: the IBU’s are slightly higher than in my original recipe, as the alpha acid ratings on the hops available to me were higher, and I was, frankly, too lazy to do the math 🙂

After a long streak of easy and quick runoffs, for some reason this brew was a slow one – I suspect that some crushed grain got under the false bottom in the mash/lauter tun and found its way into the out-line… oh well, I didn’t have much else to do today!

Soundtrack notes: This beer was brewed entirely to the sounds of Irish music – Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Tossers, Hedge School, Horslips, Thin Lizzy, Oysterband, Nomos, Lúnasa, Iona, Boomtown Rats, Chieftains, Gaelic Storm, Black 47, and the Irish Rovers themselves, among others…

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