October 11, 2015

Midnight Train Going Anywhere Kettle Soured Belgian Rye Stout

Belgian stout mostly dropped off as a style after that one year where it seemed like we were shoving Belgian abbey/trappist yeasts into everything. I guess our love affair with those yeasts just didn't have staying power. Most of the Belgian stouts have disappeared from the market but it's one of the few Belgian-yeast-in-everything styles that I really enjoyed and it's a nice variant on stouts that doesn't rely on adding more of the existing flavors but adds something different to the mix. As homebrewers we aren't confined by what we can buy but what we can brew so I decided it would be nice to put together something more roasty for the coming winter months (or in Texas, often winter month).

I also really enjoy a sour stout although in my opinion brewing them well is a real feat. Brett seems too tempted to take those roast notes and turn them into Goodyear tire flavor while too much acid can clash with the bitterness of the roast and make the beer too sharp. My previous attempts with souring a stout developed that rubber aroma and flavor shortly after bottling and hung around for a couple years. I've experienced both problems in sour stouts I've purchased.Yuck.

To avoid these problems I ruled out any use of brett in the beer and to use a pre-boil souring technique. Eliminating brett ensures a 100% exclusion of that foul rubber character so that was an easily solution to half the problem. I've wanted to play around with some of the probiotic lactobacillus sources available these days to kettle sour and this is as good of an opportunity as any. Many of the probiotic sources contain lacto strains that either drop ph like a rock (e.g. l. plantarum) or tend not to do much with the beer. I picked up a bottle of lactobacillus acidophilus pills at a local health food store to try out. In starter trials the strain cuts out after a few days right about 3.7 so that's perfect for my needs here. I'd want more sourness in other beers but because I want restrained sourness here (perhaps tart rather than sour) then this is exactly what I need.

So putting this all together it will be a low ABV tart Belgian stout with some rye. I love rye so that's really all the explanation that goes into that component. The rye will help add body to the beer rather than adding the usual flaked barley. The wort will be kettle soured until it hits 3.7 and then fermented out with WY1214 slurry. Some of the ingredients, like the carapils and biscuit, have been hanging around in my grain storage and needed to get used up.

Midnight Train Going Anywhere Kettle Soured Belgian Rye Stout

Batch size: 3 gallons
Est. ABV: 3.9%
Est. IBU: 20.9
Est. SRM: 31
Est. OG: 1.042
Est. FG: 1.012

Grain Bill

3 lb. US Pale malt (2 SRM)
1 lb. Rye malt (4.7 SRM)
8 oz. Chocolate rye malt (250 SRM)
6 oz. Roasted barley (300 SRM)
3 oz. Carapils (2 SRM)
2 oz. Biscuit malt (23 SRM)

Mash Schedule

Add 6.75 qt water at 168F for 156F mash for 60 minutes
Sparge with 2.62 gallons at 180F
Water Profile based on Bru'n Water black malty profile

Water Profile

Ca: 60
Mg: 5
Na: 22
SO4: 31
Cl: 42
Bicarb: 155
Ph: 5.5

Mash Additions

Gypsum: 0.1g
Epsom salt: 0.3g
Baking soda: 0.5g
Calcium Chloride: 0.6g
Chalk: 0.5g

Sparge Additions

Gypsum: 0.2g
Epsom salt: 0.5g
Calcium chloride: 0.9g

Boil Schedule

60 minute boil

0.25 oz. Belma [12.10%] at 60 minutes (19.5 IBU)
0.10 oz. Cascade [5.5%] at 10 minutes (1.4 IBU)


Wort collected preboil and soured with 10 l. acidophilus pills. Boil when hits 3.7 ph.

Ferment with 100ml of slurry of WY1214.

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Began mash on 10.9.15. Collected wort and added slurry of l. acidophilus plus five pills of l. acidophilus.

Droped ph to 3.9. Finished boil on 10.11.15. Preboil volume 3.1g and preboil gravity 1.043.

10.18.15: Gravity reading 1.014. 

Bottled 10/31/15. One gallon was bottled with 2ml oak-soaked bourbon per 12oz. One gallon bottled with 3ml oak soaked rye whiskey per 12oz. Rest bottled straight at 2.3 volumes.