Burning Hills Cacao Stout Bottled

After 15 days in the secondary fermenter, my Burning Hills Cacao Stout was ready to bottle. Its gravity was unchanged since the transfer (1.026, from a starting gravity of 1.062), resulting in a final abv of 4.7%. The beer still has a smooth taste and mild chocolate finish (with a hint of vanilla), although the feel of the beer seems to have thinned just a touch since my last sampling. We’ll see how that turns out when carbonated.

I transferred about 4.75 gallons of beer into the bottling bucket and primed the beer with 3.5 oz. (~2/3 cup) of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water. The yield was 43 12-oz. bottles and 3 22-oz. bottles.

One minor change with this session is that I attached the bottling wand to the bucket with a much shorter piece of tubing, rather than the 3 foot length I used previously. The result is that it is much easier to bottle, and I’ve eliminated the risk of accidentally getting the bottling wand on the floor.

Burning Hills Cacao Stout Update

In the secondary

Today, after 8 days in the primary fermenter, I transferred the stout over to the secondary. Gravity reads 1.026 at 64°, which has a virtually negligible correction factor to 60°…to 1.026. Down from an original gravity of 1.062, this leaves around 4.7% abv at the moment. Assuming that the lactose in the recipe is almost completely unfermentable, I should be pretty close to final gravity with this one, judging by the calculations in BeerSmith.

Based on my tasting at the time of transfer, this is going to be an absolutely delicious stout. It is smooth and creamy, and I was pleasantly surprised to have a mild but distinct cocoa finish pop in a few seconds after each sip. However, it’s also a “big” and hearty beer…I think I’m probably going to stick with almost exclusively 12-oz. bottles for this one. An 18- or 22-oz. pour would be just too filling to enjoy.

This transfer session is also notable as the first time I’ve used my “new” brewing setup in the garage. I finally got some time to swap out the old utility sink (which was covered in grease, old paint, and other grunge) and set up a re-purposed work bench. Just on this first run it is much more convenient than the kitchen counter!

The new brewery location…not in the kitchen.

Burning Hills Cacao Stout

It has been a long time since I brewed up a stout from scratch (four years, to be precise), so it is high time to get back into that game. I’ve done a few just-add-malt-and-water kits, which turned out quite well, but I wanted a bit more of a challenge. I have been looking for something with some body, so a milk stout seemed like just the ticket. And I like chocolate milk, so some cocoa powder came into play too (baker’s chocolate and the like have too much fat to brew well). The whole recipe is named to commemorate the unseasonably dry weather and associated brush fires…because why not?

I am excited to try a few new things with this recipe (which is a modification from several I found on-line). First, I’ve never brewed with lactose before…it is supposed to give body without adding much in the way of fermentables, and the only slightly sweet taste of the powder seems consistent with that. I’ve also never brewed with cocoa powder; given the small amount, I don’t expect a huge chocolaty flavor, but just a hint is what I am aiming for. Finally, I spotted a new dry yeast at my local home brew shop–BRY-97 American West Coast dry yeast from Danstar. Apparently it’s only been out for a year or so, and this is the first time I’ve seen it stocked anywhere. Given the clean flavor profiles of the liquid West Coast Ale yeasts I’ve brewed with before, this seemed like a good match for my beer. If I have success, I might move the BRY-97 into regular rotation when I can get it.

Burning Hills Cacao Stout

  • 1.5 lbs. 80°L crystal malt
  • 0.25 lbs. black (patent) malt
  • 0.25 lbs. chocolate malt
  • 0.25 lbs. roasted barley
  • 6 lbs. dark dry malt extract
  • 1 lb. milk sugar (lactose)
  • 2 oz. Cascade hops (whole)
  • 1 oz. cocoa powder (Hershey’s unsweetened)
  • 0.5 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 pkg. BRY-97 American West Coast dry yeast (Danstar)


  • Steep grains in 6 quarts of water at 155-160°, for 45 minutes
  • Sparge grains with 2 quarts of water
  • Top up brew kettle to 4 gallons, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, add dry malt extract. Bring back to boil, add hops.
  • After 45 minutes, add Irish moss. After 55 minutes, add lactose. After 60 minutes, turn off heat and add cocoa powder.
  • Cool wort and transfer to fermenter. Top up to 5 gallons and pitch yeast (already rehydrated per package directions).
  • Starting gravity was 1.060 at 74°, which adjusts to 1.062 at 60°.