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 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.
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.