Those of you following this blog are probably ready to chastise me on my timing.
Yes, I know that this post was promised 3 weeks ago. The truth is I wanted to insure I captured the true essence of this subject matter, as it has been one of my more enjoyable forays into home brewing.
Also, after having actually drafted a version of this initial blog, it became apparent it needed to be broken into smaller segments. Therefore, in the interest of expediency, I am breaking the original into 4 bite sized posts.
This overview will set the stage of what is to come, followed by 3 more weekly post, breaking down the subject matter into beer brewing, taste testing, and finally a few stout recipes.
To start, I’ve always had a singular thought on what beer was or should be. Blame it on growing up in America with frequent jaunts to Italy – where to my detriment, neither of my cross-continental experiences in beer consumption went any farther than the average American or Italian lager.
I had tried the standards, Bud, Schlitz, even a pilfered Colt 45 Malt Liquor, and a handful of others, thereby thinking I was a beer connoisseur when I drank my first Birra Moretti or Heineken in Italy; coincidently Heineken International now owns Moretti, under the brand name Birra Castello S.p.A. I guess that is why I couldn’t really ever tell the difference between the two.
It was not until I was actually drinking age, that I really tasted some remarkable beers, and found that I preferred a hoppier, or bitter dark beers, such as porters and stouts.
Through the years, I have been attracted to microbrew beers, and will take a porter or stout over an ale or lager. When not available, my preferred standby had always been Guinness both in the US and when I was traveling to the U.K.
While in Europe, I noticed that there was a marked difference in the flavors of Guinness, of what I experienced at my local US Pub. The European versions contained less alcohol than the 5-6% alcohol by volume (ABV), that we drink here. The dry stout or Irish stouts have a hoppier character and are less malty.
Having only recently experienced home brewers working their craft, I have truly developed an appreciation for the art of melding flavors of hops, wheat, barley, and various flavors to come up with a palatable beverage that did not make you want to gag.
My decision to make a Guinness-Style stout was based on 2 criteria, 1st there was an Irish Extract that would be the basis of my initial entry into brewing my 1st solo attempt at homebrewing, which translates into a lesser chance of making a grave error, if I followed the procedures correctly.
2nd having been a judge at the March 2010 Bluebonnet Homebrewers Brew–Off competitions, I tasted varieties of Imperial Stouts, that were more in line with what I wanted to create. I also sampled a number of incredibly great ales, ciders, non-alcoholic root and ginger beers, and everything in between.
In naming the stout I was creating, I knew I wanted show reverence to my Italian heritage, while simultaneously, creating a pun, and stroke the narcissistic side of my ego. The irony here is that until recently with the advent of the Italian Microbreweries, beers like Birra Morretti, Peroni, and Castello were the most well known Italian beers, albeit, fairly abysmal.
How better to accomplish these two endeavors than name the post “da Marco’s Stout di Santo Giacome Cancello”.
For those not fluent in Italian, “da Marco’s Stout di Santo Giacome Cancello” translates loosely to “Mark’s stout from Saint James Gate”. The title allows me to pay homage to my family in Italy, while stroking my ego and describing the origin of this stout.
Saint James Gate is in Dublin, Ireland where Guinness has been brewed since 1763. In the late 1700’s this style of beer was crafted for the local masses. Beer was taxed based on the ingredients. Roasted barley, which is not malted, was originally added to the stout because unmalted grains were not taxed. The roasted barley is what gives this stout the dark roast coffee dryness.
For many years, a portion of aged Guinness was blended with freshly brewed product to produce a sharp lactic flavor. This sharp flavor was what porter drinkers expected back then. The thick creamy head of Guinness is the result of beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured.
A few weeks back, my good friend and beer brewing mentor Charlie Gottenkieny; an award winning Master Brewer, was in town. Charlie offered to tutor me on my solo attempt at making a Guinness-style stout. Everything that is being described in next week’s post can be viewed in its entirety by clicking on Charlie’s Homebrewing 101 – An Introduction to Making Your Own Beer guide.
The version of Guinness-style stout that I wanted to create was more in line with the Guinness sold in Europe. Opting for more authenticity in flavor than style, I decided to sour 18 ounces of the wort for about 2 weeks, to be added to the brew pot, after pasteurizing. To achieve the true Guinness-style stout, I would have needed to purchase a G-mix tank, consisting of a CO2 and nitrogen apparatus, to get the creamy head Guinness is noted for. I decided on economy versus style in this case.
Following next week’s post, I will provide a review of the beer in a taste test, and a few Stout Beer Cooking Recipes, that will surely provide some interesting discussions.
Groov’n and Salivations