Homebrew DC: Dry Stout Recipe

Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad
Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
courtesy of Bernt Rostad

This is another in a series of articles about homebrewing in the DC area by Carl Weaver of RealHomebrew.com. Want to learn about making your own beer? Keep an eye out for Friday homebrew features.

If you are like me and are a big Guinness fan, you may have toyed with the idea of trying to craft your own black brew. If you have, then good news: stouts are easy! This homebrew recipe is exactly what you are looking for.

Stouts are mostly associated with England and Ireland and are offshoots of Porters. As Porter styles evolved, the thicker and more robust Porters began to be referred to as “Stout Porters.” Eventually, the Stout developed into its own style and gained a devoted following.

In general, Stouts are very dark to black in color and have a roasty flavor. The hop flavor and aroma are minimal, though there are a few style exceptions with a pronounced hop presence such as the Imperial or Russian Stout. Stout styles can range from dry to sweet, relatively low to high alcohol content, vary from light to heavy bodied, and may have a hint of fruity esters.

Stouts, being the spawn of Porters, share many of the same simple techniques and fermenting characteristics. Most Stout styles contain a minimal amount of ingredients, are top-fermented, and have short fermentation periods (10 to 21 days). The largest difference between the Porter and Stout styles is in the characteristics of the dark specialty grains which give the Stout its color and roasty flavor.

The most commercially popular style of Stout is the Dry Stout, or Irish Stout made famous by brewers such as Guinness and Murphy’s. Dry Stouts are light-bodied with low hop presence and low alcohol content (~4% ABV). The black color of the Dry Stout is derived more from the use of specialty grains such as roasted barley, chocolate malt, or black malt rather than the darkness of the base malt.

Try this homebrew recipe for a basic Dry Stout:

  • Base Malt: 6.6 lbs of light or amber malt extract
  • Specialty Grains:
    • 0.5 lbs black malt (cracked)
    • 0.5 lbs 60-L Crystal Malt (cracked)
    • 0.5 lbs roasted barley (cracked)
  • Bittering hops: 2.0 ounces Cascade pellets (60 minutes)
  • Finishing hops: 1.0 ounce Fuggles pellets (10 minutes)
  • Yeast: 1 pkg freeze dried Ale Yeast

Primary Fermentation: 14 days

Steep the specialty grains in two gallons of 155-degree water for about 20 minutes. Strain and pour the tea into the brew kettle, ensuring none of the husks get into the brew pot. Add one gallon of water to the brew kettle and begin to heat. As the brew kettle is heating, add the 6.6 pounds of base malt extract and stir until dissolved. Once the wort is at a boil, add the 2 ounces of Cascade pellets. Stir regularly. After brewing for 50 minutes, add the 1 ounce of Fuggles pellets for the last 10 minutes of the brew. After 60 minutes total brewing time, remove from heat and pour it into your sanitized fermenter and top up to five gallons with cool spring water. Allow the wort to cool. Once it reaches room temperature, prepare the yeast according to the instructions. Pitch the yeast, allow to ferment for 14 days, then bottle or keg, prime, and enjoy!

For a darker color and a little more malty flavor, try adding 4 to 5 ounces of chocolate malt to the specialty grains.

This post first appeared at RealHomebrew.com.

Carl Weaver is a writer and brewer for RealHomebrew.com and has been making beer and wine for more than 20 years. He is also an avid photographer and writer and just finished his first book, about a trip he took to Thailand to live in Buddhist monasteries. He considers himself the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest darned guy in the world. Follow him on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Homebrew DC: Dry Stout Recipe

  1. This one’s a multi-parter, so buckle up. I’m going to start at the end and work back.

    1) Primary time is three weeks. Minimum. You even said in the body of your article that its fermentation time is up to 21 days (which is actually pretty long for a top fermenter). And then, on top of that, you don’t just bottle/keg and enjoy. That’s insanity. At the very least and I’m talking bare minimum to have a carbonated beverage, it should be there for a week. And even then you’re not going to have anything that’s drinkable for at least a month and a half after bottling. What you have suggested is possible MAYBE if you pre-pitched your yeast MAYBE if you cold crashed it.

    2) Top up with spring water? For any stout you want soft water. At the very least you need to mention this. Bottled ‘spring’ water is so varied that you need to be very careful.

    3) It goes without saying, but 1 gallon of wort is the bare minimum for a quality brew. The bigger the brew kettle, the better.

    4) It is extremely misleading to suggest that this brew is going to be anything like Guiness, the most gimmicky of all beers. Unless they have access to Vitamin C (or whatever the hell it is that makes it so tangy) and Nitrogen everything will pale in comparison. People always do this with Dry Stouts. You are not going to brew Guiness.

    5) What in tarnation does this have to with Washington DC? I see nothing about the city in this. While I am both a lover of homebrew and the DC metro area this is nothing but a distraction and pretty much seems like an attempt to drive traffic to this dude’s website. It’s literally copy pasted from there. Yeah there’s a decent beer/homebrew community in this town. You know what’s a good story? Writing about that. Write about relevant things. This is terrible.

  2. Hi Heath. You are right – this is not exactly a Guinness recipe. Normally to get that somewhat sour taste of Guinness, you would start by leaving a couple bottles of Guinness open in a bowl for a couple weeks to sour. I never said this recipe will make Guinness beer. I said it was a basic black stout. That is right on.

    Primary fermentation time will depend on the yeast and temperature. With an ideal setup, what you suggest would work fine. My home is a little warmer than ideal for fermentation, so it is a faster process. You are right – I did not go into the particulars about priming and such. I force-carbonate my beers, which takes about a day. No doubt you don’t approve of this process because the bubbles are bigger than those you get from nitrogen or cask-conditioning. However, it works. And secondary fermentation is nice for clarifying the beer, but often not necessary. Most beers will not suffer from putting them right in the keg or bottle.

    Spring water, city water, whatever. If you have good water, you can get good beer out of it. Ideally something softer is better, but you can use what tastes good. People who are interested can read about water profiles and shape their water to be exactly as it is in other places where their favorite beers are made. Most of us just love making and drinking great beer and recognize that’s what we are making. It won’t be exact but it will be pretty darned good.

    Yeah – I left out the amount of water for the brew kettle. I would never do a one-gallon boil. A big pasta pot is fine to start with. I use a six-gallon pot. It works like a champ.

    The point of this weekly column is to get people thinking about making their own beer, thus empowering them to have a better selection, or at least a different selection, for what they drink. This is not a beginner’s guide nor a place for experts. People who buy an equipment kit and read about the process will understand if I leave out a few details that are covered in their intro manuals.

    If this is terrible, my apologies to you. I will refund your money if you present a receipt. Thanks for reading.