ABV: 4.0 %
This is likely to be our last Fork Brews release of 2015 – so do join us before the silly season kicks in and starts becoming a marathon/chore!
Fork Brewing’s final new brew for 2015 is a 4.0% Pacific Milk Stout. Its name partly pays homage to Wellington’s most horizon-infiltrating edifice, the Majestic Building: close neighbour of Fork Brewing, and in the shadow of which Fork lies, await, for weary office workers that pour forth from its sliding doors at the end of a long day.
For whatever reason, there’s a common belief that dark beers are for winter months and that tastebuds change with the seasons.
Our brewer doesn’t subscribe to this, and being somewhat unconventional in aspects of his brewing (and having a bit of a soft spot for brewing dark beers) decided to kick tradition to the curb, and that now was the ideal time to pull out a nice stout. But this time with a little twist.
“I like brewing loads of different beer styles, but for some reason, it’s the darker ones – the stouts and the porters – that are my favourite to brew,” says Kelly.
“In terms of hops, I wanted to bring this away slightly from the standard milk stout. Shadow Majestic courts both Kiwi and US hops.
“It’s a nod to our Pacific friends in the USA and the wonderful American-style stouts that are often jammed full of big, resinous and punchy West Coast US hops.
“For whatever reason, there seems to be this thought that dark beers are for the winter months, that our tastebuds change with the seasons, and theres this sudden need to drink something dark.
“I’ve never subscribed to this. In fact, I’ve even seen people drink coffees, chocolate beverages – iced or otherwise – and this strange, dark beverage called Cola in the summer months.”
Shock, horror and gasp.
“I’d enjoyed playing around with lactose when brewing The Jelly AnTipodean for Beervana, and thought a nice milk/sweet stout would be a fun style to put through the big system,” says Kelly.
“My mind’s eye had something with some extremely gentle roastiness, a little raisin and prune character and a lovely candied fruit hop character to round it off.
“I don’t know if there is such a thing as a Pacific Milk Stout. There seems to be very few new ideas in brewing, but it sounded good to me.”
A light malt base was combined with dehusked roasted malt in the form of Weyermann’s Carafa. This gives a lovely deep colour, a light chocolate and coffee character but doesn’t give an overly intense roast bitterness.
It’s also perfect for the Sweet/Milk Stout style. A portion of both flaked barley and rolled oats was added for smoothness and softness on the palate, and Gladfield’s Toffee Malt and Shepherd’s Delight were used to introduce a little malt complexity, both in the form of richness and in that lovely, dark dried fruit character.
Finally, lactose was added to the boil.
“Lactose is a milk sugar that is not fermentable by brewer’s yeast,” says Kelly.
“It only has around the fifth of sweetness of normal sugar (sucrose) but adds a wonderful creamy texture to a beer. I think this is an important characteristic for a lighter alcohol stout to have.”
Nitrogen gas in the beer can also provide this sensation due to the fineness of the bubbles that the gas creates (and the use of a special creamer-style tap), but in lieu of this, the combination of oats, barley, lactose and even some dextrins (longer chain sugars from the toffee malt) all come together to give just a little richness.
The wonderfully oil-rich New Zealand Wai-iti and some New Zealand grown Chinook (originally a US variety) were combined in the kettle to give some big lemon, pine and resinous aromatics.
Finally, the Stout was dry hopped with American Amarillo hops.
“These have wonderful fruit depth,” says Kelly.
“I find hints of wine gums, dried peaches and even those little brightly coloured sherbet lollies you would buy as a kid for a cent each (showing my age!).”
Don’t be swayed by tradition – this is a Stout for any time of year!