12: Chocolate-less Coffee Stout Experiment (e)

I’m forever blowing bubbles
Pretty bubbles in the air

I wish that’s the tune my Wheat Porter was playing, but since Sunday I’ve not seen a single bubble come out the airlock, or the lid bulge.

I'm not forever blowing bubbles

I'm not forever blowing bubbles

There has clearly been activity there – you can see the krausen (the foamy head of yeast that forms at the peak of fermentation and falls, leaving gunk at the side) has fallen, and there are little CO2 bubbles coming out of the beer.

There is activity - Krausen and CO2

There is activity - Krausen and CO2

Compared to the krausen from American v Britain Superpower IPA (dry-hopped Sunday with 4.1g each of Fuggles and Cascade), the Porter krausen is quite insubstantial.

For comparison, the Krausen on the America v Britain Superpower IPA

For comparison, the Krausen (and dry hops) on the America v Britain Superpower IPA

Why I’ve not seen any airlock activity – that puzzles me. It could be that I missed it because the bucket was hidden in the fermentation chamber, but that’s unlikely because the lid didn’t bulge.

It could be because there’s a leak in the lid.

It could be that because I rehydrated the yeast using 250ml of wort and that the starter was very vibrant, that all activity took place in the first day. Maybe the lid did bulge then and I forgot?

Or maybe, horror of horror, my screw-ups on Sunday mean that there’s lots of unfermentable sugars.

Or maybe I didn’t aerate enough?

Or… dammit. Here was me thinking I’d gotten past the stage of worrying about my homebrew!

There’s only one way to find out whether things are going smoothly or not, and that’s to take a hydrometer sample. Maybe I’ll try that tonight – after 4 days I’d expect the gravity to be around the 1.020 mark.

Last night I live-twittered – with photos – my way through a visit to Popeye in Ryogoku.

If there is one bar in Japan I’ll miss when I leave here, it’s Popeye. Just look at the menu – it’s two pages, changes daily, and lists between 40 and 70 beers ON TAP. Click on the images to see the detail of what they had last night – apologise for the quality but unless I reduced down the colours, the shadow of my hand taking the pics just looked creepy:

Popeye's daily beer menu - side A

Popeye's daily beer menu - side A

And side B:

...and side B

...and side B

The menu is constantly changing – which means there’s always something new to try, but also create a headache (or should that be toothache) for Chuwy at Boozelist. Chuwy – hope you find the  menus above useful for updating the site!

One of the unique features of Popeye is “Hop Heart”, shown at the top left of side B of the menu.

Here they run one of the hand pumped beers through hops while pouring it. In the picture below you can see the two small tanks at the bottom containing the hops:

The heart of Hops Heart

The heart of Hops Heart

Last night’s hops were Amarillo and Cascade. I’ve no idea how often they change the hops – I hope it’s daily; I should probably ask next time I go.

Last night’s Hops Heart beer was Ozenoyukidoke IPA which they had on hand pump and CO2 draft. That means one single beer was available in four different ways in the same bar – hand pump, hand pump through cascade, hand pump through Amarillo, CO2 draft – mind boggling!

Where else can you get 4 versions of the same beer?!

Where else can you get 4 versions of the same beer?!

This was quite an interesting tasting, but very confusing! Ozenoyukidoke has a little bit of “that IPA taste” that I don’t like on hand pump. Through cascade, “that IPA taste” was much stronger – but through amarillo and on CO2, it was far weaker. The natural deduction is that cascade could be in some way responsible for the taste that I don’t like, which would be logical because I usually taste “that IPA taste” in American beers, but is completely illogical because I don’t taste it in Anchor Liberty (which is cascade only) or in the beers I’ve made with cascade!

The bar (taken a few weeks ago)

The bar (taken a few weeks ago)

Last night’s beers, and what I thought of them:

  • Hakusekikan Samurai Rice Ale – Nice light bitterness, not sweet (Hakusekikan make the Brown Ale that I likes so much at Ushi Tora – a brewery for me to keep an eye on, I think)
  • Isekadoya Beer Pale Ale – Lovely and hoppy with a good bitter aftertaste
  • Isekadoya Beer Brown Ale – Bitter and caramel and a little hoppy.. good!
  • Nogne 0 IPA – I tried this at Ushi Tora and didn’t like it. Last night was better than Ushi Tora – nicely bitter – but it still has the taste I don’t like.
  • Iwatekura Oyster Stout – Fizzy black creamy stout but not heavy. Very much like my Chocolate-elss Coffee Stout Experiment without the coffee taste.
  • Nide Cream Ale – A pils but not a pils. I’m not a huge fan of Nide (made by Baird). It’s a bit non-descript – but then I think that’s the point: It’s made to be sold to Japanese. Astoundingly many people go to Popeye and order Asahi Super Dry – I mean, Jesus! That’s completely missing the point of Popeye.
  • More Isekadoya Beer Pale Ale – the last beers of happy hour. Between 5-8pm you get free food with every beer marked with a crown on the menu – all the beers above qualified.
  • Speakeasy Prohibition Ale – as expected from the Big Daddy IPA, I really didn’t like this. It has the taste I don’t like.
  • Stone Levitation Ale – again, it has the taste I don’t like. This is definitely either a hop thing or a method thing – I must track this down. It was really hard to finish Levitation and Prohibition.
  • Onidensetsu Red Ale – a free pint for becoming a Popeye member. Rather non-descript red ale, very little hops. What’s funny is that in Korea, I used to hunt out a beer called Red Rock – which is like a weaker version of this red ale – because it has some taste, unlike Cass or OB or Hite. This isn’t a bad beer – like Nide isn’t a bad beer – it just doesn’t cut the mustard when stacked up against the other competition here.
  • Ozenoyukidoke IPA on hand pump, on hand pump with cascade, on hand pump with amarillo, and CO2
Just some of the taps at Popeye

Just some of the taps at Popeye

On the menu at the bottom of the Hops Heart section, it seems to imply that you can add extra cascade or amarillo to any beer – but I don’t know whether that’s true or whether the Japanese is misleading. After drinking all that, it wasn’t advisable for me to do any further exploration. I left Popeye 10,000 yen poorer but feeling priceless happiness.

Darn it! Just noticed that on side B they have a whole range of dark Hakusekikan beers, including the brown ale. I have to go back to Popeye soon!


Today I tasted Beer twelve (Chocolate-less Coffee Stout Experiment) before bottling and Beer seven (Green Scottish West Coast Flasher IPA) which was bottled a few days ago.

Coffee tasted great a few days ago – but now the coffee taste has disappeared and the taste remaining is… I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know whether it’s because the sugar has now turned to alcohol and the remaining coffee is competing with the hops, or whether it’s an infection. I added more coffee before bottling (same amount as I added initially) and we’ll see how it turns out – if it is infected I’ll find out when I crack open the bottles. For Coffee I used a water container rather than a fermentation bucket and there wasn’t a proper airlock (I left the cap slightly unscrewed) so that may be the problem.

Flasher is just over-powered by Simcoe, and for me it isn’t bitter enough. It’s better than All Centennial but it follows the same pattern – too little bitterness, overpowered too much by one hop, and a little sweet. People say that a strong IPA takes a good month to condition so maybe it’ll get better (but none of my other beers have significantly changed after bottling so probably now). For the moment the perfect IPA eludes me. However I am learning something: I need stronger bittering, and to be careful with strong hops in the flavouring. 

Flasher was mostly Zeus and Simcoe. I have a suspicion that between all the hops from the monster hop order, the Zeus is quite old and the Simcoe quite new. I think Simcoe ended up overpowering everything, especially in the dry-hopping, and I don’t think Zeus gave the bittering its AA% promised.

Today I made a new beer with some friends (I’ll write about the beer tomorrow). It was supposed to end at 1.064. Boil gravity seemed significantly higher than expected but I ended up with around 1.053. I’ve no idea what went wrong.

Then before pitching I discovered that the cherry beer has made the bucket stink of cherries.

This new beer will certainly be interesting.

Final failure: After rereading the instructions on my hydrometer I discovered it is calibrated to 20degrees and not 15. Then after testing with water, I discovered that actually it gives the correct reading at 25. I’ve gone from not really adjusting for temperature (usually measuring at 25), to adjusting to 15. Now I discover that was wrong! Doh!

We all have days like this. Everything will be better tomorrow, won’t it?!!

…this man needs a plan!

Last night I bottled Beer seven (Green Scottish West Coast Flasher IPA) and Beer nine (Mini IPA), leaving Beer twelve (Chocolate-less Coffee Stout Experiment) because the gravity was a little above where it should be – as it has only been in for 6 days I thought I’d give it some breathing space. As I said yesterday, Flasher hit its FG exactly; I didn’t measure the FG of Mini IPA because there’s so little of it.

I now have three free buckets. It’s a joy to see them – all waiting to be filled with lovely beer! Today I’ll receive a delivery from Advance Brewing which includes:

6kg of American 2-row
4kg of German Weyermann Wheat malt
1kg of German Weyermann Munich
1.5kg of German Weyermann Pilsner
1kg of UK Chocolate
0.6kg each of C40 and C15
0.3kg each of C150, Flaked Rye, Flaked Oat, Flaked barley
200g Saaz pellets (I’ll need more Saaz than I currently have if I’m to make pilsners over the summer)

I didn’t have exact recipes in mind when ordering these – I did the order before leaving for the airport when I was in Korea because I knew I needed o-rings, and decided to add some grain to bring it over the free delivery limit. As it turned out Advance Brewing screwed up the delivery date and didn’t have all the o-rings in stock, so I may as well have just waited till I came back.

In retrospect – now that I have researched recipes – it would have been good if I’d ordered some C60, C75, and extra flaked rye, etc. Still, at least I have grain to get creative with!

This is what I’m thinking of:

1. A 3 US Gallon version of the Lagunitas IPA clone mentioned in this podcast from Jamil. The 6 US Gallon recipe given in the podcast has an OG of 1.060 and IBU of 46.8 according to Jamil. When I plug it into online calculators, I get the same OG but an IBU of 37 – I’ve tried different calculators and get the same result, so Jamil must be using different utilisation values for the hops.

I feel 1.060 is going to be a bit light for an IPA and I want something stronger so the version I’m working on is a 3 US Gallon recipe with an OG of 1.076 and an IBU of 40 (from the same calculators that gave 37). I’m keeping this as a 3 gallon version because (a) it is experimental, and (b) it made it easier to work out the hops (The original recipe is based on a boil size around the same at the batch size. I can’t do a 6G boil so I would need a 3G boil with 6G batch, which would have meant scaling up the hops because of the higher gravity 3G boil – too risky.)

2. Two 3 US Gallon white ales. Both will have wheat and pale malt. One will have flaked rye added to the mash; the other will use orange peel, coriander, and nutmeg. Both will use a Belgian yeast. I only have one pack of the yeast, hence splitting the batch – 3G also is better matched to the small amount of rye I have. Will be fun to compare these – Rye vs Spice.

3. A porter, and all grain bitter, and a pilsner. I’ve not even thought of recipes yet – whether or not the porter and bitter are possible depends on the weather. The porter will most likely include the oats and/or barley.

The weather is getting hotter in Japan so I want to start these as soon as I can, while my hallway is still around 24-26. The Lagunitas IPA will be first since I’ve almost finished the recipe.

It’s exactly two months since I bought the “homebrew kit” in Tokyu Hands and started homebrewing. Since that time I’ve:

What I’ve not achieved yet is making an IPA that I’m happy with. But I’m working on it. By the end of tonight I’ll have all 4 of my buckets free again, and by 9pm tomorrow I’ll have received a large batch of assorted grain (two row, wheat, chocolate, etc etc) to fill them up again with. It’s time to start planning more beer!

Last night I bottled Beer five (Brewferm Kriek racked onto cherries) and kegged Beer eight (All Fuggles Bitter). It wasn’t entirely a smooth event – the tap for the Kriek kept getting clogged up with cherries and the tap for the Bitter kept getting clogged up with hop leafs. I need to get better at “clearing” my beer – I need ensure the leaf hops are not transferred into the primary, and I need to remember to put in that Irish Moss (not that Irish Moss will help transferring, just that I always forget it).

Beer eight had a FG of 1.013-12 at 21 degrees – 1.014-13 adjusted to 15 degrees – which is higher than the predicted 1.009. I possibly should have left it a little longer, but it had been in for 12 days already. Unlike All Goldings Bitter, I’m not going to force carbonate this one – hopefully if there is any fermentation left to do, it will naturally carbonate the beer. I’ll leave it for a few days with some low power CO2 trickling in to help it along – but I’d be happy to drink this beer “flat”.

Tonight I’ll bottle Beer seven (Green Scottish West Coast Flasher IPA) since it will have been dry-hopping for a week. A few days ago it tasted fantastic – so much like citrus that I had to wonder whether I’d thrown peel in there in my sleep. Last night it smelt great but tasted a bit too strong – I hope this doesn’t go the same was as All Centennial IPA. Update: I just tried some again before bottling and it tastes fantastic. FG 1.017-16 at 25, about 1.019 at 15 degrees – exactly on target.

I’ll also bottle Beer twelve (Chocolate-less Coffee Stout Experiment). From the tasting last night, this has really turned out to be a fantastic beer. Depending on the hydrometer reading, I may not add any priming sugar to this – if it still has a little fermenting to do. Again, I’d be happy to drink this close to “flat”.

Final beer to tackle tonight will be Beer nine (Mini IPA). I had some of this last night and it wasn’t how I imagined it would turn out! Again, my quest for an IPA recipe that really makes me should “Man, that’s goooorgeous” is still ongoing.

I have a bunch of pre-crushed grain which I wanted to use up – C60, C75, and black. I wanted to make a porter/stout but most of the recipes I’ve seen include chocolate, which I don’t have. So as an experiment I tried to offset the lack of chocolate with a hint of coffee – decaf, actually – and using some light DME instead of extra-light. It tasted good going into the fermenter – we’ll see how it turns out in a few weeks.

This is a highly experimental brew – not just because of the unusual recipe, but because I’m using a 20L water container I found in Cainz for 600yen. No airlock but by unscrewing the top slightly gas should come out – and the outflowing gas combined with the lid only being slightly unscrewed should prevent anything bad getting in (in the same way that one of my primaries lets co2 escape from the list). Just in case it explodes, I’ve placed it in the bathroom which has wipe down walls. I think I forgot to lock the door though… oops!

As an aside, I noticed a bug in the Tasty Brew calculator – these three sets of values produce widely different IBU’s:

Boil volume: 3.0L, Final volume (batch size) 3.0L
Boil volume: 3.0L, Final volume (batch size) 3.01L
Boil volume: 3.01L, Final volume (batch size) 3.0L

I’ll need to stop using it or work out which is correct.

Chocolate-less Coffee Stout Experiment

Boil volume: 3 US Gallons
Final volume (batch size): 3.01 US Gallons

0.5kg Extra-light DME (Muntons spraymalt)
1.0kg Light DME (Muntons spraymalt)
171g Crystal 75L
73g Crystal 60L
91g Muntons Black 550-600L

Nugget AA14.6%: 60m 5.7g (0.2oz)
Willamette AA5.1: 30m 7.1g (0.25oz), 15m 7.1g (0.25oz)
Choice of hops was roughly based on recipes in How to Brew.

450ml of cold coffee added during cooling (three shots from my double-espresso machine, each allowed to run to 150ml)

Yeast: S-04, approx 2/3 of a packet. I had trouble getting the temp of the wort down (I’m going to need to look at that) and it was late so I had to pitch when it was too warm – seemed to work though.

Predicted OG: 1.052
Predicted FG: 1.013
IBU: 37 (see note about Tasty Brew above).

I steeped the grains at 68 degrees for 30minutes before adding all the DME at once  when starting the boil (I’m going to stop adding half DME at the beginning and half DME near the end of the boil – it makes IBU too hard to calculate.)

I was worried that 68 degrees was too low for steeping – I usually do 70-75 – but actual OG was 1.056-8 at 15 degrees (adjusted from 1.054-6 at 26 degrees) which is better efficiency from steeping than Tasty Brew predicted.