What We're Brewing: Maeve's Mint Chocolate Stout

It's cold and rainy and I find myself craving a winter warmer of a beer. Something to drink beside my nonexistent roaring fire. I've never turned down an After Eight in my life and so have decided to craft a thick, rich, creamy mint chocolate stout.

The four main ingredients in beer are malted barley, hops, yeast and water. For a beer style like stout, the main ingredient that we play around with is the barley. Barley can be roasted until it's pitch black, can be left a natural pale, or can be prepared in such a way that it brings through flavours like dates, caramel and toffee. For this beer, I'll stick with mostly pale malt (all beers have a base of pale malt) but I'll add in a hefty dose of a type of malt called pale chocolate.  There's a more common malt called chocolate malt, but my research and experience suggests that it counterintuitively imparts more of a roasty/coffee flavour, whereas pale chocolate malt will actually give me that yummy rich chocolate flavour.

We really want to let the malt shine, so for hops, I'm going to use some traditional English hops early in the boil. That means they'll add some much-needed bitterness to counteract the sweetness of the malt but they won't add much flavour. Similarly, yeast can do amazing things for flavour, but I'm going to stick with a "clean" strain that won't add much by way of fruity or clovey flavours. Last but not least, I'm going to play around with the minerals in my water to help bring out the maltiness and make sure the bitterness doesn't get too overwhelming.

That covers the four main ingredients in beer, but I'm not going to stop there. This is a mint chocolate stout, after all! Having done extensive research, I'm going to use a high quality mint extract with no added oils (they can ruin the head on the finished beer). I'll add it in dropwise just before bottling, tasting regularly, to make sure I don't overdo it. I'm also going to add cacao nibs after yeast is finished working - this real chocolate will augment the chocolatey flavours from the malt. The cacao won't flavour the beer as quickly as the mint extract so I'll leave them in the beer for a few days, again testing regularly to make sure it doesn't get too pungent.

I'll be back next newsletter to update you on how the brew went and how the beer tastes! As always, get in touch if you want to discuss how we can brew a custom beer for you.

- Maeve