A Small Batch Brewed Coffee Stout
Made In Collaboration With Climpson & Sons
I tend to be drawn to well-made items that are often hand crafted and frequently have regional differences to what already exists. I also enjoy a good beer or three which is why in recent years I have grown into somebody that resembles my dad and have started appreciating ‘real ales’.
Coffee is another soft spot of mine, I enjoy a nice black coffee preferably fresh and strong. But then again if you’re offering to make me a coffee, I’ll take it how you make it after all beggars cannot be choosers. Then again if you happened to make me a coffee when I woke up, I’d think of you as my savior and then (for a little while at least) question how you got into my house.
Which in a round about way neatly scissors conversation back into talking about how we started brewing Ale. More specially ‘WineNot’ Ale started as an experiment into small batch brewing, in not wanting to become serious and declare it as a business. Teaming up with friend and beer aficionado Nick McKevitt, trialing ideas and hopefully making some half decent beer in the process. Sharing the basics principles of what we learnt with the intent of potentially inspiring others or at least halting costly mistakes before they happen, saving you from explaining the total mess created in an otherwise spotless kitchen.
After the first few batches of WineNot, a Belgian Saison and Gingerbread wheat beer for those asking. Whilst being wrapped up through the winter months in London, we came upon the notion that brewing beer is akin to preparing a morning coffee (not really as it turns out, only in the final drinking perhaps). Coming to the idea of producing a coffee porter or stout, made at home using fresh and locally roasted coffee beans from Climpsons & Sons on Broadway Market in London. Across the park which is opposite our brewing depot, Climpsons have The Arch, where they store and roast the fresh beans before sending out the fresh coffee to businesses across London. It is actually very impressive to see the operation up close with the processes being carried out. Seeing the care for craft being translated into big business is actually quite inspiring.
At this moment it is worth stating that I view brewing in the same light as letterpress, or indeed how I might view the science of alcoholic baking. I now understand why people talk about the ‘craft’ in beer and that brewing a half decent pint is down to decent ingredients, timing, and a lot of attentive energy. Indeed it seemingly is ALL about process and thus fairly easy to cock’up if you have the capacity to find distractions like myself. Fortunately Nick is very good at these things and remains attentive through the full extent of the brewing process, whereas I simply distract myself with naming the beer before we brew it, you know the fun stuff.
Here’s the 'WineNot' rough guide to small batch brewing:
The first step is to heat up the hot liquor (brewing water) to 78 degrees in the boil pan (a large pot).
Next we measure out the hot liquor for the mash. The amount water we use for the mash is determined by the amount of malt we are using. In this case it was about 4.8 kg, which equates to about 12L of water. This hot liquor is now transferred to the mash tun (an insulated container).
Keeping an on the water temperature, we mix our grains. We want to achieve a mash temperature of about 66 degrees.
Doughing in the gains. Slowly pouring it in and mixing with the hot water to soak the malts. We do it slowly and use a large spoon to mix in the grain to prevent any doughballs (big clumps of dry malt) from forming. After mixing in the grains we let them rest in for an hour. During this time the heat will convert the starches in the malts into sugar which will be extracted by the water.
Our sweet, malty liquid is now called wort (pronounced wert). We drain our wort from our mash tun and place into our kettle or boil pan. Next we perform what is known as a sparge, followed by a vorlauf. The sparge is the process of adding more hot liquor to our malts to flush out and extract the remaining sugar. The vorlauf is the process of clarifying the wort by recirculating our wort through the grains. By draining it out of the bottom of the mash tun, and slowly pouring back into the top of the mash tun several times, the grain bed in the bottom acts like a filter and removes the haze and proteins in the wort.
Next we transfer the remaining wort into our kettle, or boil pan, crank the heat up and wait for it to boil. Because of our small gas stovetop, this step take almost an hour!
We hit the boys (and girls) up at Climpson and Sons
for some fresh coffee.
Back To Brewing Beer
A nice big bag of good old British Goldings hops. Hops are used in beer for a few good reasons. Firstly, they have strong anti-bacterial properties which helps to preserve our beer. Second, they add bitterness to the beer, which counteracts the sweetness we get from the malt. Third, they add plenty of flavour! Once our wort reaches boiling point, we add in our bittering hops. They go in right at the start of the boil, which will last an hour. This gives us plenty of time of extract all the Alpha acids (the substance which causes the bitterness) from our Goldings hops.
Because we’re making a coffee stout, we add some coffee. Using cold water, we do a cold brew so we extract plenty of coffee goodness, but without extracting so much of the bitterness that occurs when you do a hot extract. We then filter the cold brew through a cafetiere, and add it right to the wort at the end of the boil.
After the boil we need to cool our wort down. We use a copper wort chiller, a large spiral shaped device, which is placed in the boil pan and hooked up to a tap. We run the cold water through the chiller, which slowly drops the temperature. We need to cool our wort down straight away so we can add our yeast. The sooner we add our yeast, the less likely it is that other micro-organism will contaminate and spoil our beer!
The water coming out the end of the wort chiller is rather warm, having passed through our boiling wort, so we use it to wash our mash tun. Cleaning the equipment is very important, but by far the most dull part of brewing.
Draining our cool wort from the boil pan into our fermenter! The sieve helps to filter out any pieces of hop debris that have snuck through the filter. Once in here, we can add our yeast, and fermentation will begin. And thus our wort will be become beer!
The yeast will consume all of the sugars in the wort, and produce CO2 and ethanol as a by-product. This airlock on the fermentation vessel allows the CO2 to escape, without letting anything in.
Now we have to wait about a week for primary fermentation to end. Once this is done, our beer is full of alcohol, but isn't quite ready to be drunk. It need some more time to mature, but during this process we can add some more cold brew coffee to enhance those coffee flavours!
Now we just have to play the rather agonizing waiting game. In the mean time, grab a brew (a cold one or a hot one!), and stay tuned for Part II.
McLoughlin and McKevitt