Ian F. Commins "Freedom" Stout
Last year my brother and I made a stout for a Saint Patrick's Day party. It was so successful, we decided to do it again.
We considered brewing a different stout kit but decided, in the end, to brew the same one we did last time just to see how the two would compare (based, of course, on our fuzzy memory of last year's beer).
We pretty much nailed everything during the actual brewing process. Because it is February in Minnesota I decided to do everything in the kitchen (rather than setting up the keggle out on the deck). I bought a 5 gal brew kettle so we could do an actual partial boil (which is basically what we did last year, too, only we used a borrowed kettle).
After we were finished, I attached an adhesive thermometer strip to the side of the carboy so I could monitor its temperature. My thinking, of late, is that a lot of the problems I'd been having stem from improper fermentation temperatures. Now I'll have a better idea of what's going on inside those carboys. Finally, we wrapped the carboy in an insulated blanket and put it in my office (which is heated to around 68°F.
[Thursday, February 5] By Sunday night it had start bubbling. Monday morning it was bubbling like nobody's business. Monday night I removed the insulated blanket from the carboy to check on its temperature: 77°F! That's too hot! The yeast we used has an optimum temperature range of 62°F - 72°F). And I thought we were going to have trouble keeping it warm. Geez. I left the blanket off and, by Tuesday morning, the temperature had dropped to a far more reasonable 70°F. Fat lot of good a thermometer does if I don't look at it. I hope I haven't damaged the flavor too much by letting the yeast work outside of its ideal range for the first all-important day of fermentation. Fortunately, stouts are very forgiving.