The Celtic Elk Stout 1.1

Nearly five years ago, I made an Irish stout that tasted great and did well in competition. I gave another go this year, seeking a dark beer with lots of flavor but not a lot of booziness. It was a success!

The recipe is basically the same as last time, just with some minor ingredient adjustments.

The Celtic Elk Stout 1.1

  • 6 lb. Maris Otter malt (Crisp)
  • 1.5 lb. flaked barley
  • 13.6 oz. crystal 75 malt (Great Western)
  • 12 oz. roasted barley (Briess)
  • 10 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 4 oz. crystal 10 malt (Briess)
  • 3 oz. Blackprinz malt (Briess)
  • 3 oz. Carafa Special III malt (Weyermann)
  • 3 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.65 oz. Warrior hop pellets (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Irish Ale Yeast (WLP004)

Target Parameters

  • 1.045 o.g., 1.014 f.g., 4.1% abv, 35 IBU, 39 SRM
  • Infusion mash, 156° for 60 minutes, batch sparge
  • Claremont tap water

Procedure

  • The night before brewing, I made a 0.75 L starter, and let it run on the stir plate.
  • I mashed in with 3.5 gallons of water at 168°, to hit a mash temperature of 156°.
  • After 60 minutes of mashing, I added 1.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the first runnings. Next, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 7.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.045, for 87% efficiency! This was way too high, so I removed 0.5 gallons of runnings and added 0.5 gallons of tap water, to hit 1.041. This was much better. I saved 2 cups of this to use in bread (and it made tasty bread!).
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort.
  • Once the wort was down to around 75°, I transferred to the fermenter and chilled the rest of the way down to 66°. Finally, I pitched the yeast.
  • I brewed this beer on 18 April 2020. Starting gravity was 1.050.
  • I fermented the beer at 66°, and kegged the beer on 25 April 2020. To save some CO2 and try keg conditioning, I primed the keg with 2.1 oz. of corn sugar in boiling water.
  • Final gravity was 1.019, for 4.1% abv.

Tasting

  • Appearance
    • Dark! Black in the glass, and a deep, dark brown if you get a thin sliver of beer. Thin but persistent brown head.
  • Aroma
    • Rich aroma of chocolate with a touch of roasted coffee. There are hints of dried cherry behind that; I don’t think it’s esters (because the flavor of the beer is pretty clean in terms of yeast character), but a synergistic effect of the dark malts. I like it!
  • Flavor
    • Roasted coffee character at the outset, with a touch of dark chocolate behind that. There is a really nice coffee-type bitterness from the malt than creeps in alongside the hop bitterness. Hop bitterness is clean. The flavor is malt forward, with hops secondary, until the finish. There is an extended, slightly bitter (but not unpleasant) finish.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Dry, medium-light body, moderate carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a great recipe, and a fine interpretation of the style. I think my modifications were okay overall, although I’ll replace the Carafa III with all debittered black malt next time, and use pale chocolate instead of regular chocolate malt, because the malt was just a little too much chocolate and not enough roast. As the beer matures, it has really come into its prime. I rushed it just a touch to get it on-tap, and so it had a hint of sweetness at first from the corn sugar used for priming (at least I think that’s what I was experiencing). That’s gone away now. This recipe produces a really quaffable beer, and the low alcohol level (4.1% abv) isn’t really a flavor/mouthfeel detriment thanks to the malt character.
  • Overall
    • 9/10
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