Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mussel Stout Brewday

This is my version of an oyster stout—since I live in Dayton, fresh quality oysters are a little harder to come by, and when they do come around, I’m not sure I can justify boiling them and throwing them into a beer, delicious as it may be. So I scored me a whole mess of mussels: Prince Edward Island mussels to be exact, so there will be a little bit of Canada in each delicious bottle. I will be interested to see if the mineral/brine character carries through in the finished product—I couldn’t taste it in the wort as it went into the carboy, but maybe once the sweetness level drops it will come into play. I could certainly smell it during the mash.

Artwork by Jeremy Fish

105. Mussel Stout (officially, I am going to call this Beefcake Stout)
9 lbs. Muntons Pale Malt
2 lbs. Flaked Barley
1 lb. Franco-Belges Kiln Coffee
1 lb. Crisp Light Chocolate
1 lb. Muntons Roasted Black Barley

Mash @ 150° F for 80 minutes w/ 5 gallons of RO water, 1 tsp. gypsum added (2 ½ of the 5 gallons of RO water were used to cook 3 ½ lbs. of PEI mussels); collected 3 gallons @ 1.076
Batch sparge @ 168° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water, 1 tsp. gypsum added; collected 3 ¾ gallons @ 1.032

Collected 6 ¾ gallons; brought to a boil (70 minutes) and added:

w/60 to go: 2 oz. Sonnet leaf 4.1% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish moss

w/5 to go: ½ lb. PEI mussels

Chilled & racked onto Wyeast 1028 cake from 103. Coffee Mild

Brewed: 11/26/2011 @ 70° F
Secondary: 12/16/2011 @ 1.024
Bottled: 2/2/2012 w/ 2.4 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.062
FG: 1.024

Tasting Notes: (11/26/2011) Not much in the way of mussel/mineral flavor going into the carboy—sweet, roasty, and slightly bitter; we’ll see how it tastes going into the secondary. Not surprisingly, the mussels I cooked in the wort tasted fantastic.

(12/16/2011) Again, not much in the way of mussel/seafood flavor going into the secondary.

(2/2/2012) There might be a touch of something developing, although I’d describe it currently as a mix of mineral and umami.

(4/16/2012) I’ve been a bit remiss on getting to this beer. It was delightful after about two weeks, so I figured that I should hide it so I didn’t roll through it in short order, and my plan worked perfectly as I then forgot about it. While the mussel character was initially pretty much incognito, the beer itself was enjoyable—I envisioned this as a scaled-up dry stout (ala 99. Rockit Cup Dry Stout), and the MFB Kiln Coffee helped build a dry but complex malt character that was more than just roast. So I’ll be interested to see where this beer is at.

Mussel Stout (a.k.a. Beefcake Stout) pours a dark chocolate brown—it is just shy of inky—and has a voluminous cocoa head, although this emerges only once you pour the beer. It is also long-lasting; there is a sizeable cover that refuses to go away, is augmented by the streaming tiny bubbles running up the side of the glass. Or, in other words, methinks it is a wee bit over-carbonated. Once it does finally dissipate, there are some soft garnet highlights visible in the beer. The nose is dry roast, chocolate, and coffee with a slight mineral character lurking in the background. It also has that delicate sour note you find in dry stouts, which I find pleasant. Flavors open with roast and dry chocolate—almost a baker’s chocolate—before turning to coffee and a slight sweetness in the middle. The chocolate also picks up in the middle, but the carbonation bite flattens flavors into the finish, leaving roast and chalkiness lingering on the palater. The mouthfeel starts rounded and chewy—the flaked barley makes its presence felt on the tongue—although the carbonation lightens the body of the beer, specifically in the finish. The beer improves as some of the carbonation gasses off, but the slight carbonic bite remains, along with spritzy effect it creates, whether the beer is actually spritzy or not. There is also a slight slickness on the tongue (not DMS-related) that strikes me as a combination of roast malt and flaked barley in a rounded dry body. I think there are good flavors here, but the overall product is not as satisfying as I hoped for—I should have drank it up before the body fully dried out and the effect of the over-carbonation came into play. Part of the problem might also be the vision of the beer itself—making this a bulked up dry stout didn’t pan out quite as well as I hoped it would. The over-carbonation mixed with the bigger body leaves the beer pulling in two different directions, neither of which work together. The size also drowned out the subtler mussel flavors, although the slight tang of mineral brine does linger in the background. I still like the idea of the beer, but it does need some re-tooling before I try it again.

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