Black and Tan - Part 1 - Black - February 2015

Two-gallon batch. All-grain. The recipe came from the Brooklyn Brew Shop book titled Beer Making Book. This was part one of two beer batches. This first batch was called "Black." We'll brew the "Tan" batch next. Both will ferment and bottle separately. And then on drinking day, the two will be carefully combined. But the beers can also be consumed separately. This was our first batch for 2015. We last brewed in mid-December. Too long between batches.


We brewed this beer on Mon, Feb 16, 2015, President's Day.

The ABV is suppose to be 4.2%. This will be the lowest ABV that we've brewed.


Recipe called for a 60-minute mash, but Deb decided that we needed to use a 75-minute mash.


The Challenger hops were added at the start of the boil. Fuggle hops were added after 40 minutes of boiling and after 50 minutes of boiling.


Since we brewed in the evening, and the outdoor temp was in the single digits, and we had at least eight inches of snow cover, along with large piles of snow in the backyard, we decided to chill the beer outside.

I set the pot on the bare concrete for a while, and I also set the pot in the snow, but it took a surprisingly long time to cool the wort temp into the 70s. 40 minutes!


On Tue morning, Feb 17, no activity existed. Our house temp was in the low 60s. We've had multiple below-zero temp mornings. It's cold and dry.

I moved the fermenter into an upstairs room, and I then closed the door to keep the heat contained in the room.

In the early evening of Feb 17, a few bubbles of activity existed on the surface.

On Wed morning, Feb 18, I noticed a fair amount of fermentation activity as a layer of bubbles existed across the surface.

Since this is a low alcohol beer fermenting in a cool house, that might limit activity.

Deb added the entire yeast packet on brew day.

About Black & Tan

According to the book, the flaked barley is suppose to help "approximate the super-smooth taste that Guinness gets from carbonating with nitrogen instead of carbon dioxide."

Also from the book:

The "Black" is a super-dry Irish stout that has a creamy consistency.

The "Tan" is an ESB (extra-special bitter), a moderately hopped beer with a malty profile.

When made correctly, the stout, which is lighter in alcohol and density, floats on top of the ESB.

Pouring the stout over the tan is a delicate operation; go slow and steady.

A special Black & Tan spoon that fits over a pint glass will help to slow the pour to a drip, giving you more control.

If you don't have one, take an expendable metal spoon and bend back the stem to approximate the shape.


We bottled 19.5 bottles on Fri, Apr 3, 2015. At this rate, we might have a black-and-tan combo ready for next St. Patrick's Day.

We used six tablespoons of maple syrup as the bottling sugar.

Despite the nearly six weeks or so of fermentation occurring entirely within the primary fermenter, the wort tasted good. I was surprised at how well it tasted for such a low ABV. It tasted thin, of course, but it had fine flavor.

This could be a decent little beer on its own. It might be a good option for people who don't like stouts with an ABV over 8.0%.


On Mon, Apr 13, 2015, we split a bottle that was only a little over half full because it was the last bottle that we filled. It had been in the frig since bottling day, Apr 3.

The beer tasted okay. Very low carbonation at the moment. The flavor is stout-like, but it feels thin, naturally, because of the low ABV.

This might be a good training wheels stout for a craft beer newbie.

We test our homebrews with one of our neighbors who drinks mainly the Bud Light type of beers. This would be one I'd like for him to try.

#chocolate - #English - #2gal - #ale - #stout - #oatmeal