Session Stout 2020

I like session beers! I like stouts! Let’s do another one!

This recipe is a minor modification of a previous session stout. The main malt change was to swap in Vienna malt for Maris Otter, and use full-octane chocolate (350 SRM) versus the pale chocolate (225 SRM) that I used last time. Because this isn’t really a hop-centered beer, I switched the hops over to just a small charge of Magnum at the beginning of the boil. I also decided to swap flaked oats for flaked barley, because why not?

Session Stout 2020

  • 6.25 lb. Vienna malt (Weyermann)
  • 1 lb. flaked oats (Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)
  • 0.75 lb. roasted barley (Briess)
  • 0.5 lb. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lb. black malt – 2-row (Briess)
  • 0.125 lb. rice hulls
  • 0.60 oz. Magnum hop pellets (13.2% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)

Target Parameters

  • 1.041 s.g, 1.011 f.g., 3.9% abv, 31 IBU, 35 SRM
  • Infusion mash, 156°, no sparge
  • Claremont tap water, with Campden tablet to remove chloramine


  • I mashed in with 7.25 gallons of water at 161°, to hit a mash temperature of 156°. I started recirculating after 10 minutes, for a total of 60 minutes in the mash. I neglected to do a mash-out–oops!
  • After draining the grain basket, I had 6.5 gallons of runnings with a gravity of 1.033, for 67% mash efficiency. For this batch, I’m still trying to dial in my efficiencies on the Anvil, so I was a touch on the lower side of what I intended.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the recipe. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and chilled the wort, before transferring it to the fermenter.
  • Starting gravity was 1.038, a little lower than targeted (1.041). Oh well! I brewed this beer on 7 November 2020, and fermented at around 66°.
  • I kegged the beer on 22 November 2020, hitting 1.017 final gravity. This equates to only 2.8% abv! As is usual these days, I used keg conditioning to carbonate this batch. It took 2.7 ounces of corn sugar in 1 cup of water. After 2 weeks, I topped up the CO2 level with force carbonation.


  • Appearance
    • Pours with a beautiful and highly persistent deep tan head; the beer itself is clear and deep brown, almost black.
  • Aroma
    • Coffee aroma with a touch of chocolate; no hops to speak of; very clean character overall.
  • Flavor
    • Coffee and roast malt notes predominate; not much for “maltiness” otherwise. Moderate, very clean bitterness.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Very light bodied, pretty dry on the finish with a lingering but not unpleasant bitterness. Moderate level of carbonation.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Absolutely! For what it is–a dry, relatively light session beer–it’s pretty darned satisfying. The background malt body is a little light, but that’s OK. I expected a little more sweetness given the higher finishing gravity. Not sure what’s up with that.
  • Overall
    • 7/10

Session Stout II

A little over a year ago, I brewed a batch of Irish stout based on a recipe in Jennifer Talley’s wonderful book, Brewing Session Beers. The result was pretty enjoyable, so I wanted to revisit the recipe. The main changes from the previous version was a different base malt (Maris Otter instead of American two-row) and using pale chocolate instead of full-on chocolate malt.

The end result was something that is almost there, but in need of a few last tweaks. I love it as a low-alcohol session beer, but feel it still needs a bit more body. I’ll certainly be coming back to this in the future!

Session Stout II

  • 6 lbs. Maris Otter Malt (Bairds)
  • 1 lb. flaked barley
  • 12 oz. roasted barley (Bairds)
  • 7.5 oz. pale chocolate malt (Crisp)
  • 4 oz. black barley (Briess)
  • 2 oz. rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Helga hop pellets (5.6% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1.09 oz. East Kent Goldings (6.0% alpha), 10 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet
  • 1 pkg. Safale American ale yeast (US-05)

Target Parameters

  • 1.042 s.g, 1.009 f.g., 4.4% abv, 31 IBU, 42 SRM
  • Infusion mash with batch sparge
  • Water built from Claremont tap water with Campden tablet.


  • I mashed in with 166° strike water to hit a target temperature of 152°. After 60 minutes, I added 1.4 gallons of water at 185°, waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed and collected the first runnings. Next, I added 3.3 gallons of water at 185°, waited 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.25 gallons of water with a gravity of 1.035, for 71% efficiency.
  • I brought the kettle to a boil, adding hops and finings per the schedule. After 60 minutes, I turned off the heat and cooled down to yeast pitching temperature (combination of cooling coil and time in fermentation chamber after transfer).
  • I transferred the beer to the fermenter and pitched the yeast. I brewed this beer on 4 December 2018, and fermented at 66°. Starting gravity was 1.042.
  • I kegged the beer on 4 Janaury 2019, when it had a final gravity of 1.014. This equates to a measured abv of 3.7%.

Tasting Notes

  • Aroma
    • Chocolatey, roasty, very clean
  • Appearance
    • Deep deep brown, black in the glass; very fine light brown head with excellent persistance; brilliantly clear
  • Flavor
    • Deceptively light flavor, that tilts towards the roasted side with a hint of chocolate. Not a terrible amount of malt backbone. The roastiness is balanced well against the hoppiness. Moderately bitter beer.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Dry, light-bodied beer, with moderately high carbonation as perceived in the mouth.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • This is a pretty tasty, very drinkable beer. I feel like it is just a touch lighter on base malt character and mouthfeel than I like, although this is a pretty easy fix (a bit more base malt or perhaps use full octane chocolate malt instead of pale chocolate). The base recipe itself is pretty solid.
  • Overall
    • 6/10

Beer Tasting: Session Stout

stoutI’ve had this beer on tap for about a month; it has been really enjoyable!

Session Stout

  • The Basics
    • 1.042 s.g., 1.012 f.g., 3.9% abv, 31 IBU, 42 SRM
  •  Appearance
    • Clear, black beer, with a fine tan head that is moderately persistent. It looks awesome!
  • Aroma
    • The aroma has a prominent roasted character, with a tiny hint of chocolate behind that.
  • Flavor
    • The beer has a forward roasted/slightly burnt character with a dark coffee tone, as expected from the roast barley. The hop bitterness is smooth, in the background behind the malt.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer is fairly light bodied with moderate carbonation. The finish is dry, but smooth.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I think so! It’s a very drinkable beer, both in terms of its flavor/mouthfeel as well as the low alcohol. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit. If I were to make any minor changes, I would probably up the body just a little (it can tend to slightly thin after awhile). I might also experiment with a version that has more chocolate malt, to richen the  profile and make it a bit more complex than just roast barley.
  • Overall
    • 8/10

Session Stout

The past few months have been exceedingly packed for a variety of reasons, and so I’ve had little time to brew and even less time to blog! Here is a quick report on an Irish-like stout I brewed up around a month ago.

The intention for this recipe was to create an Irish-like stout; note that I say “Irish-like” because I didn’t go completely authentic with all ingredients. I also wanted something that was fairly low in alcohol and quite drinkable. Thus, I aimed for something <4.5% abv and fairly dry.

The recipe is modified (slightly) from a recipe in Jennifer Talley’s Session Beers book.

Session Stout

  • 6.46 lb. 2-row malt (Rahr)
  • 1 lb. flaked barley
  • 0.75 oz. roasted barley (Bairds)
  • 4.2 oz. black malt (Bairds)
  • 3 oz. chocolate malt (Briess)
  • 1 oz. pale chocolate malt (Crisp)
  • 4 oz. rice hulls
  • 0.5 oz. Warrior hops (15.8% alpha), 60 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Irish ale yeast, prepared in 0.75L starter

Target Parameters

  • Infusion mash to hit target of 152°. Batch sparge.
  • Claremont tap water.
  • 1.043 o.g., 1.012 f.g., 4.2% abv, 31 IBU, 42 SRM, 5 gallons into fermenter


  • I mashed in with 2.83 gallons of water at 162°, to hit a target temperature of 151°.
  • After 60 minutes, I added 1.65 gallons of water at 185° for the first batch sparge, let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected first runnings. Then, I added 3.5 gallons of water at 185°, let sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the second runnings.
  • In total, I collected 6.5 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.037. To this, I added 0.25 gallons of RO water to bring the volume up to 6.75 gallons.
  • I boiled for 60 minutes, adding hops and other ingredients at the times indicated in the recipes.
  • After flame-out and chilling, I aerated while transferring into the primary fermenter.
  • Starting gravity was 1.042, and I fermented at 67°. The beer was brewed on 9 October 2017.
  • I kegged this beer on 2 November 2017. The yeast had settled into a nice dense cake at the bottom of the fermenter.
  • Final gravity was 1.012, for 3.9% abv. This was pretty close to my target, so I’m happy. I force carbonated at high pressure with a little bit of shaking, and was drinking the beer within a day after kegging.
  • In my initial tasting, this beer pretty much hits all the notes I wanted. It’s a highly drinkable Irish-type stout with a good bit of flavor. I think this will be a good beer to kick off fall!