Summer fun doesn’t mean I have to be limited to light lagers (and I do love light lagers!). I think there is a place for dark beers in the warm weather, given the right recipe and the right mindset. So, a “tropical stout” seemed like a good ticket. I had initially thought I would make something with coconut, but realized I didn’t necessarily want a full batch of a coconut beer. Why not just a simple, clean(ish), flavorful stout? So, I checked out Gordon Strong’s Modern Homebrew Recipes book and found his Jamaican Eclipse recipe. The general concept is to take a stout recipe and ferment it with lager yeast at ale temperatures. In my reading, there seems to be a lot of lore around tropical/Caribbean stouts and yeast type, and I wonder to what extent any of it is true. Either way, even a “Fantasy Island” version of the recipe is intriguing to me.
I followed Strong’s grain bill only loosely, making many substitutions and adjustments. I had no idea how much I might like this, so I scaled it for a 3 gallon batch. The result? Pretty flavorful, and a definite re-brew candidate!
No Latitude Tropical Stout
- 6.25 lb. Maris Otter malt (Bairds)
- 8 oz. crystal 80° malt
- 6 oz. roasted barley
- 4 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
- 2 oz. Blackprinz malt, 2-row (Briess)
- 10 oz. corn sugar (dextrose), added to kettle before boil
- 0.5 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
- 1 tsp. Fermax
- 2 pkg. Saflager (W34/70) lager yeast, Fermentis
- 60 minute infusion mash, 152°, batch sparge
- 1.064 o.g., 1.011 f.g., 7.1% abv, 39 IBU, 32 SRM
- Claremont water, treated with Campden tablet
- I mashed in with 2.75 gallons of water at 163°, to hit a mash temperature of 153°. It was down to 149° after 20 minutes, likely due to the smaller thermal mass involved here.
- After 60 minutes, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. I then added 2.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
- In total, I collected 4.65 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.044, for 75% mash efficiency. I added the corn sugar prior to the boil.
- I brought the runnings to a boil, adding hops and other ingredients per the schedule.
- After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled down to 67°. I transferred to the fermenter and pitched the yeast.
- I fermented the beer at 67°. Starting gravity was 1.060.
- I brewed the beer on 15 April 2019 and cold crashed on 28 April 2019, kegging on 29 April 2019.
- Final gravity was 1.013, which works out to 6.3% abv.
- Roasty, chocolatey malt aroma, but not much in the way of hops. Really nice! As it warms up, I pick up a slight alcohol note, but this is permitted within the bounds of the BJCP style description.
- Thick and persistent brown head; the beer itself is fairly clear, and brown with a faint reddish tinge
- Chocolate-forward, with a bit of roast behind that. The bitterness is moderate and clean, but not over the top. Not much in the way of hop flavor. The finish is evenly balanced between hoppiness and maltiness. This is a very smooth, highly drinkable beer.
- Moderate body, but not so much as to kill drinkability. Moderate carbonation.
- Would I brew this again?
- Yes! Maybe it’s a bit of a psychological thing, but this definitely does seem like a good warm-weather stout. It’s smooth, quite drinkable, and doesn’t taste like it is 6.3% alcohol. I don’t see much in the way of improvement needed, although I could kick the fruitiness and body up a notch. A bit of crystal 120 might help with that.