Essex Dry Stout [Recipe/Brew Day]

My hose thawed out enough to provide a trickle of water, so I took this as a sign that I needed to brew a new beer. I have not made a dry stout before and I recently picked up a vial of Essex Ale from White Labs, so this was my clearly my next batch.

essex dry stout 2

Aside from the slow hose water and cold, the brew day was uneventful. I hit my numbers and had everything sitting in my fermentation chamber and cleaned up in 6 hours or so. My OG is 1.043 fermentation really took off between 12-24 hours after pitching. I build up a nice sized starter (3L) and packaged about 1L in 4 jars for future beers (thinking of an English IPA or ESB). I decanted the rest and pitched it into both carboys. One note of interest, this will be the first beer that I have used ClarityFerm on.


  • I plan to blend cold steeped espresso with half of this batch

Possible Issues

  • Threw campdem into the boil instead of the strike water. It probably was too late for the chlorine
  • Color is a bit too brown currently, most likely by the large amount of sediment being kicked up by the fermentation

I fixed the brown color by doubling my roasted grains and adding it to the fermenter. That recipe is now reflected above


Brew Day – Sour Saison Partigyle


I’ve pushed off updating this post for too long (11 days). Don’t get me wrong, the brew day was amazing. There were about 40 of us with a dozen different beers going at once. We drank good home brew, we shared great stories, we bs’d…it was fun. I even received amazing feedback from some brewers who are opening their own brewery (such as “what is stopping you from going pro?” – best compliment by far). What put a damper on things was not giving myself enough time. All the effort I put into the process may be wasted when I rushed the final product due to a family dinner.

Note: Unfortunately, as I have a new phone, all of my notes are lost. I am trying to recreate the numbers from memory, they are close, but are not precise.

To start, I was impressed that I was able to fit 12+ gallons of water and 38lbs of grain in my 70qt mashtun with a little room to spare.  I probably could have fit 3 more pounds in there. The mash went well, my adjustments were a little off (pH around 5.3), but I was not too concerned. First runnings poured off into the kettle and the boil started. I had my pre-boil gravity numbers, but they are now lost in the clouds (or THE “cloud” [or “butt” if you use the “cloud to butt” extension in chrome], but I digress). As this was boiling, I batch sparged and collected my second and third runnings. This I started in my second kettle and got to boiling as well. It was here that I noticed I was running out of time. Due to this, I opted for a 60 minute boil instead of the 90 that I typically do with pilsner malt. I recently heard that the 90 minute is overkill these days with DMS, so I figure I’d chance it. Everything was chilled down to 80F, final gravity readings were taken, and the wort racked into three carboys. I was blown away that the 5 gallons of saison, instead of ringing in at 1.092 as expected, was around 1.104. Very nice extraction on the first runnings. Because of this though, my 11G came in around 1.035 (please note these are estimated from my memory. I remember being blown away breaking 1.1).

Due to having to run out to dinner, the three carboys sat in the cab of my truck at 80F overnight (it was a good dinner). I brought them in the house the next day (it was 3am when we got in, I was beat) and set them by my A/C register. Unfortunately one of the aurlocks popped off and I noticed some krausen looking buildup on top of the wort, almost as if they spontaneously started wild fermenting. I lowered them to the 60s and pitched, allowing them to free-rise back up to 72F. All three one day later showed signs of fermenting and activity.

Fast forward to a week later. I took a sample from the belgian table beers and I taste what may be a slight acetobactor infection, but I can’t tell. It may be off flavors from mid-fermentation. I’m going to let them ride another week or two and re-sample. My goal is to let the saison go for 6 months to a year in my basement untouched.


  • 34.5lbs Pilsner
  • 3.75lbs Munich
  • Saaz at 60m
  • Saaz at 10m
  • Yeasts: Sour Yeast Blend from an old cake mixed with 3711 (5G), WLP 055 Belgian Ale, WY3787 Belgian Trappist

Brew Day – Pumpkin Ale Part Duex


Last year a friend and I got together to brew a pumpkin ale. Both of our batches got infected. Wasn’t bad tasting as an accidental sour, but wasn’t what we were looking for. This year we are giving it another shot.

The brew day started off like every other. It then became a bit of a mess. Haul the equipment up from the basement, fill the HLT, heat the water, transfer to the mash tun, and then the comedy of errors started. Just as the mash tun was warming up (coolers steal about 10 degrees F), my dog decides to pee on our grain bag. Not the end of the world, my friend transferred the grain to a bucket plus it’s going to be boiled anyway

The sparge, boil, and transfer to carboys went flawlessly, and we hit our numbers. Even clean up was going fine, until I saw the unopened bag of brown sugar. I’m guessing beersmith didn’t calculate the pumpkin correctly, or the extra pound and a half we threw in bumped the numbers enough, but I’m shocked we hit 1.065 without it. It will be added when the krausen starts to fall.

Finally I set the beer in the fermentation chamber, plugged it in, and set it to 17F (pitch low, ferment at 19F). Ran some errands and came back…beer is at 50F and my sanitizer for the blow off is frozen. I look and see that I plugged the freezer directly into the power strip instead of the STC-1000.

Since I couldn’t pitch, I cleaned up my workspace down there while the reptile ropes heated my chamber. A few hours later, it was where I needed. I decanter my started, aerated, pitched, and few hours later the beer is bubbling along with a nice krausen.

Not the smoothest brew day, but not a disaster. I’d mark it in the win column (at least until we try the beer).

Edit 8/18 I check the beer this AM…I plugged freezer into the wrong STC outlet…luckily it only hit 21C, but now the freezer is on….

My recipe:

**Fermentables** (Mash at 156)

* 20lbs – 2-row
* .5lb Crystal 30
* 1lb Crystal 80
* 2lb 8oz Victory Malt
* 4.5lbs of canned pumpkin
* Ton of Rice Hulls
* 1.5lb Brown Sugar (end of boil)


* 1oz Nugget – 60m


* American Ale – Wyeast 1056

* pumpkin pie spice at kegging

They had no C30, so I did 1/4lb 20 and 1/4lb 40.

Edit 8/18 I checked the beer this AM…I plugged freezer into the wrong STC outlet…luckily it only hit 21C, but now the freezer is on.

Mistake Count:

1. Dog peed on grain bag
2. Forgot sugar addition
3. Chilled wort to 50F
4. Let temp rise to 70F

Edit 9/14: Gravity checked in at 1.008. It has an interesting mouthfeel, like there is something I can’t place. I am attributing that to the pumpkin. I think some light spice will tie it together. Finished at 7.4%