When we initially approached D.I.Y. BrewHouse’s proprietor JonPaul “JP” Tolan at his Elgin location about making The State Stout, he was pretty clear about the amount of time that the milk chocolate stout would take.
So, bearing that in mind, Tolan said last week that it would take two weeks for the beer to sit and absorb the flavor from the organic cacao (cocoa) nibs included in the Brewer’s Best assembled kit.
Now, after that wait, the brew is ready to be bottled and kegged.
First, Tolan removed the container from the climate-controlled area, and we broke the two-week seal. Again, we were met with the aroma of a rich stout beer. Sampling it to further ensure its progress, it was like drinking a flat chocolate milk stout.
“There’s no carbonation – that’s what we’re about to do now,” Tolan said as we sipped. “But you should be picking up the roast and some chocolate flavors. You should be able to pick all of that up when you taste it. It’s bitter, but you get the chocolate on the back end.”
Sure enough, everything he said rang true. The cacao nibs had not dissolved into the brew, but instead had settled at the bottom of the container and seemingly expanded to provide the chocolate flavoring.
Now, it’s time to move on to carbonating the beer. Carbonating beer calls for CO2, which can be added a number of ways. When bottling, it’s easiest to add carbonation pills, which are essentially pure sugar. For the keg, Tolan said we’ll use a CO2 tank to quicken the process. You can use carbonation pills in a keg as well, but it would take longer to carbonize.
Using a siphon and a siphon hose, we filled six bottles of beer and a 5-gallon keg with our stout. As we dropped a carbon pill in each bottle, the reaction was less than fizzy.
“If it does that, that means there’s too much oil in it and sulphates,” Tolan said of the lack of immediate bubbles. “You may see a little foam, but you’re not going for that effect. As soon as they start to dissolve, the yeast is going to start eating the sugar … That’s what makes the carbonation. So you want to cap it rather quickly.”
So we capped The State Stout six-pack to let the carbonated pills “condition” the beer … for the next two months. Tolan said it would take that long before the beer reaches its maximum flavor in the bottles. As for the keg, the carbonation used to seal it will ensure the stout is ready for its official taste test next week.
“It’s going to be nice,” Tolan said.
This is the third in a series of making a D.I.Y. brew.
WHERE: 10509 Two Notch Road, Elgin
INFO: (803) 466-6026