Making beer is as much an exercise in patience as it is a lesson in brewing. Like wine or whiskey, it needs time to mature to reach the height of its flavor profile.
When we last left the making of “The State Stout” at D.I.Y. BrewHouse in Elgin with proprietor JonPaul “JP” Tolan, we had just sprinkled yeast on top of our “wort” before securing a lid on it and letting it ferment in a dark, cool, temperature-stable area – more specifically, an air-conditioned room that Tolan created in the back of his shop with the thermostat set at an optimum temperature for crafting beer.
Now, a week later, we revisit our creation to check on its progress.
Upon breaking the seal, the aroma of a really rich stout beer greets you. You can smell the roasted barley, a little bit of chocolate and even a few notes of hops.
“It’s off to a nice start,” said Tolan.
Now it’s time to transfer it from one container to another – a half-gallon of “mud” has settled at the bottom of our brew. As it was being siphoned, Tolan pointed out that “mud” forms when yeast, sediments from the grains, sediments from the extracts, proteins, vitamins and minerals settle out of the wort.
“If you like making stouts, you can harvest this yeast,” said Tolan. “If I had another stout made right now, I could just pour it on top of this, and it’ll start fermenting in about two hours.”
While the beer was being siphoned, we added organic cacao (cocoa) nibs that were included in the Brewer’s Best assembled kit. And that was it!
At least for this week. Or maybe for the next two weeks.
“With this chocolate flavor, if we really want it to come out, we need to let it sit for another two weeks,” said Tolan. “This is what a lot of people don’t understand until they start brewing or making wine … We’re dealing with a living organism. And typically the longer you let something like this sit, the more flavors really profile.
“It looks good, smells good, tastes good … in the end, it should taste almost like a chocolate milkshake.”
If we follow his updated timetable of two more weeks of letting the beer sit, we should the be ready to move onto the third phase: bottling and kegging.
“Starting off, you need to pay attention to times and temperatures and stick to the recipe,” said Tolan. “After a year or so, depending on how much you brew, if you wanted to add different flavors, then that’s when you can start experimenting.
“But whenever you experiment with something, you’re not going to know what it’s like for a month down the road. Maybe even two months. That’s where the negative side (of brewing) comes in.”
Whatever the case, as it stands “The State Stout” is coming along nicely. Semi-cheers to that!
This is the second in a series of making a D.I.Y. Brew.
WHERE: 10509 Two Notch Road, Elgin
INFO: (803) 466-6026