The Irish Stout and How to Brew It

Irish Stout

Overview

The Irish, or dry, stout is a black beer that is known for its roasty flavors. Don’t let the dark color scare you, a good Irish stout is a medium-bodied, nicely balanced, easy-drinking beer. The 2021 guidelines for this style of beer are below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.036 – 1.044
  • Final Gravity: 1.007 – 1.011
  • Alcohol by Volume: 3.8% – 5.0%
  • Bitterness: 25-45 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 25-40

Irish Stout Ingredients

Malt

The Irish stout is known for its roasty flavor and dry, coffee-like finish. Some examples venture into the very dry range, while others go with a slightly sweet finish. As usual, we will stick right in the middle. The base to this beer is simple, with a British Pale Ale, such as Maris Otter, and flaked barley. The Maris Otter will add plenty of fermentable sugars with its high extract and will impart a rich malty flavor. Flaked barley is very common in Irish stouts, and increases the attenuation limit, aids in head retention, and adds to the body. For specialty grains, the staple in most Irish stouts is roasted barley. Roasted barley adds the deep, dark color that is characteristic of this style, along with the roasty, coffee flavor. You can also add chocolate and pale chocolate malts, but keep them at a minimum.

Hops

For the Irish stout, use a British hop such as Fuggle or East Kent Goldings to add floral, earthy tones. You want a medium bitterness, but be careful not to add too many bittering hops. The roasted malts will add bitterness of their own, so you don’t want it to come off as harsh. I would keep it around 26 – 30 IBUs for your first batch, and make adjustments if needed in later iterations.

Yeast

For the Irish stout:

  • Irish Ale Yeast – WLP004 (White Labs)
  • British Ale Yeast – WLP005 (White Labs)
  • Irish Ale -1084 (Wyeast)
  • British Ale – 1098 (Wyeast)

Water

Last but not least, the water. For all beers I brew, I use a reverse osmosis filtration system and build up my water profile from scratch. The roasted malts have an acidifying effect on the mash, so you will want to consider adding a pH buffer to keep the mash pH from dropping too low. You can do this with baking soda and/or pickling lime. I aimed for a mash pH of 5.4. My water profile looked like this:

  • Calcium: 50 ppm
  • Sodium: 30 ppm
  • Sulfates: 85 ppm
  • Chloride: 40 ppm

Irish Stout Recipe

The following is a 5-gallon batch of an Irish stout. The numbers for this beer are included below.

  • Original Gravity: 1.046
  • Final Gravity: 1.007 – 1.011
  • Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%
  • Bitterness: 30 IBU
  • Color (SRM): 29.4

Grain Bill

  • Maris Otter – 6 lbs (64.5%)
  • Flaked Barley – 2 lbs (21.5%)
  • Roasted Barley – 14.4 oz (9.7%)
  • Pale Chocolate Malt – 3.2 oz (2.2%)
  • Chocolate Malt – 3.2 oz (2.2%)

The Maris Otter and flaked barley build up that rich malty base with plenty of fermentable sugars. I keep the roasted barley at, or just below, 10%. Any more than that can add a smoky, burnt flavor that we don’t necessarily want. I also add a small amount of chocolate and pale chocolate to increase complexity and add a slight chocolate flavor.

Hops

  • 1 oz Fuggle at 60 minutes (16.2 IBUs)
  • 1 oz East Kent Goldings at 30 minutes (13.8 IBUs)

Yeast

Irish Ale Yeast – WLP004

Mash

Add your salts and pH buffer if needed, and fill your mash tun to the required volume and temperature for your mash to drop to 152 degrees Fahrenheit. For me, it was 163 degrees Fahrenheit at 2.9 gallons. After 60 minutes, raise your mash temperature to 168 degrees for mash out. After mashing out, begin to sparge until you reach a pre-boil gravity of around 1.040. For me, it was 5 gallons.

Boil

Boil the wort for 90 minutes. Add the hops in at 60 minutes and 30 minutes. At 10 minutes, I added yeast nutrients and at 5 minutes I added whirlfloc tablets as my clarifying agent. Once the boil is complete, whirlpool the wort for 10 minutes and then let it wind down for 10 minutes.

Fermentation

Knock the wort out in your heat exchanger so that the pitching temperature is 64 degrees and then measure the gravity/pitch the yeast. My initial gravity was 1.046. Keep the fermentation on the cooler side and ferment at 64 degrees. At warmer temperatures, more fruity esters will be produced. Keeping fermentation between 64 and 66 degrees, especially the first few days, will promote a clean, crisp finish. Once you are within 5 specific gravity points from your target FG, let the temperature free rise up to 72 degrees. After 48 hours, cold crash to 33 degrees and hold for another 48 hours. Once your cold crash is complete, transfer it to the brite tank and carbonate it to 2.4 vols. After 3 days in the brite tank, keg it and enjoy!

If you decide to try this recipe, or another Irish stout recipe, feel free to send us a comment and let us know how it went! And if you want to see more recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter below to be notified when a new post is released. Cheers!

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