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Black Cherry Stout (Extract)

January 24, 2012

Ingredients (10 Gal)
13.2 lbs Dark LME
2.5 lbs Dark DME
1.5 lbs Crystal Malt – 120L
0.5 lbs Special B
1.5 lbs Black Patent
2.3 oz Northern Brewer hops (bittering)
1 oz Willamette whole hops (finishing)
8 lbs sour cherries (frozen)
32 oz bottle of unsweetend black cherry juice

I started this recipe using Charlie Papazian’s Cherry Fever Stout recipe from “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing”.  I modified it some, since I don’t have access to choke cherries.  Also his recipe calls for John Bull dark malt extract.  This isn’t made anymore.  So, I just used the dark LME from my local homebrew store.  Additionally, the homebrew store was out of roasted barley so we had to modify the recipe a little.  I think it came out a little too roasty.  I brewed a 10 gallon batch because it split it with a friend and gave a lot away.

Boil:
Effeciency was 100%.  It’s going to be a strong beer.  Added 8 lbs of sour cherries and let steep for 15 minutes.  Recipe called for 10 lbs, but I wanted to be able to add the black cherry juice when I rack to secondary.  It turns out that it was good I didn’t add all the cherries because the beer was pretty sour.  There was a bit more beer than I had calculated.

Fermentation:
I picked Wyeast 1272 because I like the fruity aroma and flavor.  Since this beer will have cherries, I thought it was a natural pick.  I knew the beer was going to blow off some since we over filled it.  I rigged a blow off setup, but the cherries plugged the small hose and the carboy blew it’s top and sprayed beer everywhere.  Messy.  We got a slightly larger hose and it was ok.  I ended up with only 4 gallons in this fermentor.  After 5 days I racked both batches to secondary and removed fruit.  The beer tasted very dark and sweet with notes of chocolate.  There was not much of a perceptible cherry flavor, but it was VERY tart and had a cherry aftertaste.  I went ahead and added all 32 oz of unsweetend black cherry juice (from Fred Meyer).  I split it proportionally between both batches.  I am hoping some of the tartness will mellow.

Carbonation:
Pretty strong beer ~7.2%.  I bottled most of it and gave it away to friends.  I only kegged about 3 gallons.  I used a nitro-tap for the kegged beer.  This added a nice smooth texture.  I carbed the bottles to about 2.3 vols.  This seemed about right.

Tasting:
I wasn’t very satisfied with this beer.  It was the first time I’ve brewed it and there is certainly room for improvement.  I was glad I only added 8 lbs of sour cherries because the beer was too sour for my taste.  I would back this off to 6 lbs for a 10 gallon batch.  Also, the cherry juice did give it flavor, but it made the beer taste kind of ‘winey’ (wine-like).  In the future I probably wouldn’t use the juice,  but instead I might consider an artifical cherry flavoring.  The beer lacked a little body (too thin).  This could be fixed by switching to all grain and adding some carapils.  I would also pick grains that are a little more on the malty, sweet side and less on the roasty side.  I think there was also too much hops.  The bitterness compounded the effect of the sourness and the result was that the desired sweet-cherry character was understated.  I would reduce the bittering hops and maybe eliminate the finishing hops?  Over all the beer was fair.  Very roasty, somewhat dry and tart.  Aroma was rosted grain.  Great head retention.  This beer got much better as it aged.  The last beer from the keg was the best (4 weeks later).  The strong tart tones and wine taste began to mellow.  I would plan to allow this beer to age a month or more before drinking in the future.

Details:
Vol of CO2: 2.3
SRM: 45
OG: 1.071
FG: 1.016
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: 18
Brewery Eff: 100%
App. Attenuation: 78%

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