Using Milk Sugar
This is my first experiment using milk sugar in a brew – to ultimately create a milk stout. Milk sugar can be either added at bottling or during the boil process. I elected for the latter, but may consider doing the latter in the future. (Edit: I’ll definitely be adding milk sugar at bottling going forward. This will leave more room in the primary fermenter for the wort.)
This is not a small amount of milk sugar being used. Putting the lactose – and a bunch of add-ins into the kettle – has a few not-so-great consequences. Firstly, as mentioned the volume of the wort increases. The fermenter is only so large. So, I ended up with a bunch of wort that never made it into the fermenter, still in the pot that I boiled the wort in. This is simply wasteful.
The second issue is getting the add-ins into the fermenter. Physically large add-ins (like coconut flakes) jam up the funnel – making the process of moving stuff from the brewing pot to the fermenter lengthy and difficult. This also increases opportunities for contamination – with the wort exposed to open air, as it slowly pushes its way down the funnel into the fermenter.
Ruh-roh! The final gravity came up short of target. The beer also tasted a little bland. I’m not sure what happened here.
My only solution is to re-pitch some yeast. I put the beer back into the fermenter that my oatmeal stout came out of – and added some additional fresh yeast as well. The wort/beer will be attacked by yeast on both sides. Hopefully this gets me close to final fermentation.
But it didn’t. I simply had a high final gravity. The temperature at which I mashed at could have had an impact. Unfortunately, I didn’t take super good notes on that. So, I’m assuming complete fermentation on all fermentable sugars.
Bottling Day 2.0
Oh my! Has time gone by! After a few months of sitting in the secondary, I decided to bottle. Because, why not? One possible reason why not is that the yeast died. The fermenter was exposed to temperatures in the mid 80s for multiple days.
For whatever reason, I decided I would try to bottle this beer. First, I racked a small sample out of the fermenter to see if the beer was still any good. And it wasn’t terrible. There was still some coconut bits in the secondary – which perhaps imparted more coconut flavor to the beer than when I had initially tried it. However, the flavor was almost fake. Flavor aside, I still needed to figure out a way to carbonate it.
So, in addition to adding the usual priming sugar to the “bottling bucket” (I use a glass fermenter as a bottling bucket), and the coconut extract (1 tbsp), I added some additional yeast as well. So, now I should have carbonation in the beer. And this totally worked. The beer came carbonated out of the bottle!
Sampling the Final Product
I just barely had five 12 ounces bottles that I got from the primary fermenter, or 60 ounces of beer. To this I added 1 tablespoon of coconut extract. The coconut flavor was there, but just barely. Next time, I’ll be doubling the amount of coconut extract – assuming I ever attempt this recipe again. Also, I think that the cocoa powder gave the beer a weird mouthfeel. This is probably why everyone uses cacao nibs.
I think I have some take-aways from this brew:
1.) Add milk sugar at bottling, alongside the priming sugar
2.) Use a strainer when dealing lots of large add-ins OR mince the add-ins into finer bits. For example, using a Cuisinart on the coconut flakes before going into the wort.
3.) Use at least 2 tbsp of coconut extract per 60 ounces of beer
4.) Use cacao nibs and not cocoa powder to add chocolate flavor
5.) adding yeast at bottling will definitely work to carbonate older beer