Recipe Profile #1: Valkyrie Stout
I've been trying to figure out what to blog about for weeks now. Then it hit me I could do recipe profiles for some of my "standard" beers. Nothing is really standard with me - I can't help tweaking things - but I can tell the story of some the beers I keep coming back to.
The first beer recipe I ever brewed - I started with mead and got tired of waiting - was a Sweet Stout. Specifically, the recipe I found was "Cactus Milk Stout". As I recall, a home brew shop in Tempe, AZ had posted the extract recipe on their site. I think my thought process was simply, "I like stout. I like sweet. Sweet Stout seems perfect." Having made mead, I already had most of the equipment and basic skills I needed. I went down to the LHBS, bought my ingredients, brewed, waited, bottled, waited, and drank. It was a wonderful experience that changed my perception of what beer could be. I have only brewed one other mead and a few ciders since, and I now brew most every week.
I brewed the recipe several more times, making little changes here and there to see what happened. I have hand written brew sheets going way back, but the first electronic version of the recipe I have is #5.1. You can see it here. I called it Freyja because a friend suggested I name my home brewery "Valkyrie". I liked that, and decided to name beers after figures in Norse mythology. So, Freyja.
Soon after than, I moved into all grain - with a Marzen - and adapted Freyja to all grain. You can see it's a little more simplified. I also added cacao nibs - a very good idea - and had pretty much settled on East Kent Goldings by that point, though I continued to play around a bit. I really liked the Whitbread yeast. It helped develop the fullness and richness that is essential in a Sweet Stout.
Not long after, I decided to give the pro brewing thing a go, and decided that Valkyrie wasn't going to cut it for a name. We eventually settled on Thirsty Nomad. I decided that this Sweet Stout recipe should carry the name Valkyrie as a tribute to my roots and to the fine work my wife, Beth, did on the art for the label:
I had settled on using WLP001/Wyeast 1056 (Chico) for most beers since it is consistently a good fermenter and very clean. It lets the malt and hops shine through. I also started playing around with flavors other than cacao, with limited success. I never got the orange-chocolate mix I wanted and eventually abandoned the idea. I decided to try peanut butter-chocolate instead, and have recently met with some limited success.
The latest version of the recipe is greatly simplified, and includes no lactose. I create the body and mouthfeel by controlling mash temperature and adding flaked oats. The peanut butter powder also adds that mouth coating feeling you'd expect from a Sweet Stout, though I've found the flavor is inconsistently distributed in bottles. I'm continuing to play with that, but might just settle on chocolate stout and add the lactose back in. You'll notice I've settled on East Kent Goldings and Wyeast 1056, too.
I expect I'll brew a lot of this beer as it's one of my favorites. I expect it will be in constant rotation once I finally am able to break the shackles of the day job and risk it all on a mad dream. In the meantime, if you know me, you know where to find me, and I likely have some Valkyrie ready to share.