Monthly Archives: May 2010

Inclined To Brew : Slice of Heaven Cherry Stout

I just brewed up a batch of my favorite homebrew, the cherry stout.  Like most of my more recent brews, this is about half malt extract and half grains. It’s  nice to be able to grind my own grain at home but it can sometimes be difficult to get the right size of crushed grains. 

The Grain Grinder

Ground Grains

Roasting Some Grains at Home


The body of any stout is based on a lot of roasted barley.  This adds some roasted flavor to the beer as well as increasing the head retention.  This can be easily done at home on a baking sheet.  I typically set my oven to about 250F.  Keeping the temperature at 250F or slightly lower avoids burning but gives that beautiful roasted effect.  Typically about an hour at this temperature gives the grain that nice roasted character.  One of the nice side effects of roasting some grain at home is the amazing smell that fills your house.

Jake and I are in the process of transitioning from extract brewing to all grain brewing.  Over time we have added more actual grains to our recipes.  Instead of fashioning some mash and lauter tuns, it is easier to steep the grains in the brew kettle.  I typically try to keep the temperature between about 160 and 180 for steeping the grain.  The time to steep might range from about 45 to 90 minutes. 

Steeping Grains in the Brew Kettle

The main part of brewing especially an extract based beer is the boil which typically lasts about 70-90 mins.  I add the extract at the very beginning of the boil.  After this is mixed in and boiled down, I add the boiling hops which add the bulk of the bitterness to any beer.  For this batch, I used a small amount of Willamette Hop Pellets (5.1% Alpha Acid) since the stout should only be lightly bittered, if at all.  Since the boil extracts the hop oils, later additions have less time in the kettle and add more to the flavor and aroma of the beer than the actual bitterness.

Towards the End of the Boil

Once the wort is cooled, everything goes into the fermenter and is diluted with water to the final volume.  After pitching the yeast, fermentation typically starts in about 7-18 hours.  I prefer the blowoff tube into a bucket of water as the photo below shows.

Primary Fermentation Complete

 So what about the cherries?  Well, I use a lot of them and they account for about half the cost of this beer.  But when I add them is my secret!

*** Inclined to Brew posts give a broad introduction to many aspects of the homebrewing process.


New Glarus Brewing Co. (New Glarus, WI)

Last Visit :  February 15, 2009
New Glarus is a quaint little village in central Wisconsin.  Most of the buildings in this little village reflect the original Swiss settlers.  A trip around town or a stop into the local bar will reveal a lot of German accents.  It’s a little bit of the central European countryside in the farmland of Wisconsin.  Nestled in this area about 20 miles from Madison, is the New Glarus Brewing Co.  New Glarus may be the best brewery that you’ve never heard of and with good reason.  New Glarus does not distribute outside of Wisconsin.  Anyone that has ever visited Madison or went to UW-Madison can relate some fond memories of drinking Spotted Cow or Fat Squirrel at State Street Brats.

My favorite year-round New Glarus brew is definitely the Stone Soup Abbey Ale which is really everything that an abbey ale should be.  New Glarus seems to be heavily Belgian-influenced.  In this vane, the best fruit beers of any U.S. brewery that I am familiar come from New Glarus.  The Wisconsin Belgian Red, Raspberry Tart, and Apple Ale are all well balanced fruit ales each with a special touch from New Glarus.  Raspberry Tart faithfully represents a blend of a lambic and a Flemish sour ale.  On top of these fantastic year-round beers,  the unplugged series introduces a few experimental beers every year that really explore different styles and new twists. 

The new main brewery site is located outside of town but the original brewery right in the middle of the village is available for tours and tastings.  This is not a live tour but an audio guide will tell you all that you want to know.  This is the most informative tour that I have ever taken.   The audio guide gives a good overview of the brewery’s history and a very complete look at the brewing process including the quality and yeast culturing labs.  There are about four free samples at the end of the tour plus usually a bonus tasting of one of the unplugged brews.  A small brewery and somewhat isolated but overall one of my favorite brewery visits.

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!

Capital Brewery (Middleton, WI)

Brewers of Autumnal Fire and Island Wheat, Capital has a large selection of beer with a distinct German influence.  They tend to specialize in malty and dark selections.  Capital wins for the most beer on a tour.  The tour cost about $5 and comes with a tasting glass.  I’m not sure if it was because we were the last tour of the day, but while on the tour, we each got about four full pints.  Needless to say, this might be the most fun I’ve ever had on a brewery tour.   Additionally, the tap room at the brewery has a fantastic German Rathskeller feel that fits in with the German heritage of Madison.  Take the opportunity to try some of their limited releases which is where Capital really shines.  Autumnal Fire is probably one of my favorite oktoberfest variations.

***Brewery Visits are a biweekly post about our favorite tours and taprooms all over the U.S..  Check back to see where we are going next!