Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tasting Notes: Barrel Aged Philly Breakfast Stout

A quick over night soak with more Dad's Hat
between the Quad and Stout.
Its been quite a while (nearly 8 months) since my friends Dave, Bill, and I brewed the Philly Breakfast Stout, the first beer to go into our Dad's Hat Rye Whiskey barrel (of which now there are two a group of us are working with.) Although we had planned for this beer to be something we could age for a while it turns out its just not really necessary. We brewed this beer on a "system" cobbled together with some of mine and Bill's equipment using 2x 10 gallon mash tuns in order to fit all of the grain in this batch which resulted in some modest (crappy) efficiency and a beer that was about 2-3% abv lower than we had planned. 

In spite of that the beer is delicious, and we are all very happy with how it came out, but we learned a few things throughout the process that we have already begun applying in subsequent barrel projects that are in the works now. On each barrel fill since, as documented here, we have four brewers brew 5 gallons at their leisure and come together for barrel fill day. This has some logistical issues as well but each brewer knows their system and can hit numbers more efficiently. So far it has worked well and with ~20 gallons of finished beer we blend a portion of each for a barrel aged version and some for a non barrel aged version.   

When I posted about the brewday back in December Chris from lewybrewing.com commented that we would have our hands full. At the time I didn't think it would be too difficult but these group barrels take a fair amount of planning. The most difficult issue is getting a group of people together on one single night/day to empty/fill barrels, damn real life and resonsabilities. Its really a lot of fun, but you need to be organized and keep the beers going in and out of the barrels. We try to have the next beer fermented out and ready to go by the time we removed the previous beer from the barrel so that it never sits empty more than about an hour at a time, mine was empty for a few nights between the Stout and Quad as seen in the photo above. Soon these barrels will be new Solera Projects and will require much less work over longer periods of time, until then, we have lots of barrel aged big beers piling up for the fall/winter...

Don't mind the dog hair on the rim of the glass,
I drank it anyway. 
Philly Breakfast Stout

Appearance: The beer is pitch black, as it should be, with a thin quarter inch tan head, leaving significant lacing on the glass. Subtle carbonation, the appearance is right to style.

Aroma: Big whiffs of chocolate, vanilla, and some coffee in the background all playing very well together. Not a ton of whiskey aromas coming off this thing but I definitely get the oaky notes for sure.

Taste: Silky smooth body, maybe just a tad bit thin, coffee roast, milk chocolate like, and very smooth across the tongue. There is an upfront biting bitterness on the front of the tongue and sides of the mouth probably from the coffee and roasted malts that really helps to balance it all out. It goes down very easily for a barrel aged beer, maybe too easily?

Final Thoughts: This beer is incredibly balanced no one note dominates as you drink it you get a wave of flavors as the Beer crosses your tongue and then the finish your left with a lot of chocolate. It is a tad bit thin on the body and there isn't enough whiskey in the nose, but the oak is balanced really well with the coffee and chocolate this beer is dangerously drinkable. Dont get me wrong, you know this is a whiskey aged beer, but I was kind of hoping that would smack you in the face. 

Maybe this is better though, its a borderline session barrel aged stout if that makes any sense at all. It goes down very easily, unlike much bigger beers like KBS and Bourbon County Brand Stout (abv obviously comes into play when comparing PBS with those two.) We plan to brew this beer again next year, maybe some tweaks to keep things interesting, maybe we will start the next barrel with batch #2 of this.

I need to find somewhere else I can take a snazzy photo, this window is played.


  1. The window shot is becoming your trademark...I always admire homebrewers and their creative homebrew shots.

    As for the beer, you said it is a little thin, have you thought about adding flaked oats or something in the mash from 170-205 degrees to give it that little bump?

    1. The window shot is always the best lighting in my house, i need to find a new photo to spice it up a bit.

      I'm assuming you meant in the boil and not mash, awesome idea. I've noticed you do that a lot in Brett beers to, we plan to brew this again in the fall when we get another barrel I think we will take your advice and see if it makes it a little chewier. I'm nitpicking bc the beer is pretty great as is, but there is always room for improvement.

    2. Yes the boil, sorry about that. I've been playing with that a lot over the last couple of years. It gives a really nice over all mouthfeel to the beers.