Tasting Notes: African Queen

A few weeks ago I brewed an experimental stout for a brewing challenge offered by my brew club. The challenge concept was simple – Iron Brewer; brew a beer using two ingredients drawn from a cap. I was lucky and got amaretto and grand marnier; almond and orange liquors which I worked into a stout.

The vision for the stout was a digestive; much like the liquors going into the beer. As such I wanted something bold, silky smooth and with a robust flavour and a balancing sweetness.  This led to a stout recipe which had a lot of dark malts (60SRM’s worth), was mashed high to provide body, and which had equal amounts of each liquor added twice – at flame-out & at kegging.

I almost got what I wanted – the liquor balance could be better; instead of the 1:1 ratio I would have used 2:1 orange:almond, as the orange is too subtle and the almond bitterness is too strong. I would also increase the amount of total liquor by as much as 2-fold. In addition, I would add the lactose I had meant to add (but forgot to order) – the body is nice, but the silkiness of lactose would be a fantastic addition.

Nitty-gritty below the fold.

Appearance: Pours with a thick, brown, long-lived head.  Beer is inky-black, even when viewed in front of a bright light.

Aroma: Chocolate with a hint of orange. Notable roast character; no hop aroma is present.
Flavour: Strong roast & chocolate notes, almond bitterness is apparent, orange character is present but often hard to find among the other flavours. Hop flavour is present but moderate; hop bitterness is low for the higher level of sweetness but is well balanced by the additional presence of the almond bitterness. Aftertaste starts as a mix of roast and sweetness, fading to sweet and ending with a bit of almond astringency.
Mouthfeel: Thick bodied, typical of robust stouts. Would benefit from additional silky body provided by lactose.
Overall: A great beer, good for sipping after dinner. A slightly better balance of the liquors would benefit this beer, especially the addition of additional orange liquor as the orange character is subtler than I would prefer. A beer worth re-brewing!

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