Iron Brewer Challenge – African Queen Stout

So its been a while since I’ve brewed – and to be honest – its been a while since I’ve enjoyed a pint of beer. Between travel, two rounds of some pretty nasty bugs, and a crazy work schedule life hasn’t been friendly to my brewing hobby.

So its damned well time I brew a beer! Even better, todays beer is another “brewing challenge” set by my homebrew club, the London Homebrewers Guild. This will be the fourth such brew I’ve participated in – the previous ones being a SMaSH challenge, the now infamous grocery store challenge, and and advent brew/beer exchange. This time we’re doing an Iron Brewer challenge – like the Iron Chef TV show. Basically, you draw two ingredients out of a hat, and you must incorporate those into your brew.

Our list if ingredients was imaginative – but limited to things you’d find (or would find similar flavours), in beer: Grand Marnier, Cloves, Strawberries, Mint, Amaretto, Chocolate, Blueberry, Lemon, Lime, Honey, Vanilla, Baileys, and Oranges. Some of my fellow brewers received somewhat difficult combinations – strawberry & clove for example. I lucked out – Grand Mariner & Amaretto.

Based on those ingredients I started building a recipe, using cocktails as a basis for mixing my flavours. I originally started with a plan to mimic a B52 – grand marnier, amaretto and lactose (to mimic Irish cream) in a mildly hopped caramel-malt forward beer. But a few mixing the liquors into a commercial pale ale revealed that this would not be a good idea. I then began thinking about dark beers, with their intense roasted flavour. These can be quite similar to coffee & chocolate in their flavour profile, and coffee and chocolate often go well with grand marnier and amaretto. A bit of research found a hot coffee drink – an African Queen – comprised of coffee, grand marnier, amaretto and a bit of whipped cream – AKA the original mix of liquors and lactose I was planning on. I can assure you that extensive testing of this beverage has convinced me that it should work well as a beer – so I planned out a roasty milk-stout (that got converted into a more dry-ish stout due to a shopping error) based on this wonderful coffee beverage.

Not wanting to make too much of this – in case it isn’t as good as my porter + liquor tests suggested it would be – I planned a 5L batch, using brew-in-a-bag to prepare the beer. I also forgot to order lactose, so instead I’m doing a high-body mash (69C) to provide some sweetness to counter the bitter liquors I am adding. Lastly, I am adding the liquors at flame-out, to drive off their alcohol while retaining their flavours & aromatics. If I find their character too mild, I can “dry booze” with a little more before bottling.

Recipe & brew-day notes below the fold…


African Queen Stout
Dry Stout
Type: All GrainBatch Size (fermenter): 5.00 l
Boil Size: 7.09 lAsst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 minEquipment: 5L BIAB
0.89 kgCanadian 2 Row Pale Malt (2.0 SRM)Grain173.6 %
0.17 kgBlack (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)Grain214.0 %
50 gBlackprinz Malt (500.0 SRM)Grain34.1 %
50 gCaramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)Grain44.1 %
50 gChocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)Grain54.1 %
2.50 gColumbus/Tomahawk/Zeus (CTZ) [15.50 %] – Boil 60.0 minHop622.3 IBUs
7.00 gWillamette [5.50 %] – Boil 30.0 minHop717.0 IBUs
2 shotsAmaretto (Boil 0.0 mins)Spice8
2 shotsCuracao (Boil 0.0 mins)Spice9
1.0 pkgSan Diego Super Yeast (White Labs #WLP090)Yeast10
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SGMeasured Original Gravity: 1.059 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SGEstimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.1 %
Bitterness: 39.3 IBUsEst Color: 60.5 SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: BIAB, Full BodyTotal Grain Weight: 1.21 kg
Sparge Water: 0.00 lGrain Temperature: 22.2 C
Sparge Temperature: 75.6 CTun Temperature: 22.2 C
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUEMash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
NameDescriptionStep TempStep Time
SaccharificationAdd 7.83 l of water at 73.2 C68.9 C60 min
Mash OutHeat to 75.6 C75.6 C10 min
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: BottleVolumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 29.41 gCarbonation Used: Bottle with 29.41 g Corn Sugar
Created with BeerSmith

Brew-Day Notes:

  1. I forgot when setting up beersmith that a BIAB setup generally has no thermal mass, so I overshot my mash temp by nearly 4C. I then over-cooled, but managed to maintain the right temp for the remainder of the 60min mash.
  2. My efficiency was off the hook – instead of the expected 72% I got 87%! Prior to boil, the gravity was 1.043 instead of the predicted 1.036.  Woohoo, more booze!  To counter I upped the CTZ hops by 0.5g to balance out the sweetness.
  3. I made the mistake of trying to help out SWIMBO organize the basement during the boil; the resulting boil-over cost me at least 1L (20%) of the batch.

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