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  • Writer's pictureFaffy

Brew #5 - Our "Black" is Beautiful Stout!

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

Our first ever stout recipe brewed to support the fight against the injustices Black people face all around the world!

Story behind the name:

This is our first ever homebrewed stout and we named it Black is Beautiful!

Why? Black is Beautiful is a collaborative brewing project that I saw on instagram encouraging the Craft beer industry to do more to help in the fight against racism.

What is this movement? This was a collaboration set up by Weathered Soul Brewing Co based in San Antonio, Texas. After the killing of George Floyd there was a massive outcry of outrage not just in the US but all across the world so people asked what can be done in all industries. In academia where I work there was a call for universities and institutes to do more, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis we asked the government to protect Black people and in the world of craft beer the same questions were being asked. So what you put a Black square on instagram, What else are you doing? Queue this collaborative campaign. Everyone brews the same beer, put your twist on it, sell it and give 100% of proceeds to charities and organisations that support police brutality reform and legal defences for those who have been wronged. You can find out all about the initiative here!

What is the beer? A 10% Imperial stout

What we have done? I wanted to join in but felt that we were way too new to brewing to give an Imperial Stout a good go. I just knew it would end badly but when I saw the campaign advertised we were actually already a few days into brewing our first ever plain stout. So, we decided we would rename our beer to match the campaign and donate what we could to a UK charity fighting for social justice. We decided on the StopWatch which is a UK charity that campaigns against the disproportionate use for stop and search, the increasing use of exceptional stop and search and the weakening of accountability mechanisms. They use legal and policy analysis, media coverage and commentary, political advocacy, litigation, submissions to national and international organisations and community organising to combat stop and search.

What I ask from you?

  1. Buy from breweries selling their version of the Black is Beautiful beer or have a go at brewing the Black is Beautiful brew using the homebrew recipe here.

  2. We ask any of our friends that try our stout or anyone that reads this post to donate to their charity of choice. If possible, choose a smaller regular donation over a one-off larger donation, as it helps charities plan for the future!

  3. If are unable to part with cash, work on educating yourself on the issues and what you can do to support Black Lives Matter. Remember it is not enough to non-racist, you need to be actively anti-racist!

There are 5 UK Breweries getting involved in the initiative. Expect to see these brews available from July onwards:

If you want to do more to support Black people in UK Craft beer industry, check out the following people:

  • Jaege Wise, Head Brewer at Wild Card Brewery

  • Eko brewery (Black owned UK Brewery)

  • Alexandra Sewell (Founder of Black Malt Bottle Share Club)

  • Notice how short this list is - we can do better than this! Let me know if you know anyone else.

Brewing our first stout!

Stouts are one of my favourite styles of beer! I am a huge fan of dark beers and I was excited to finally have a go at making our own. I keep reading about water chemistry and the fact that we live in London means we have the perfect water conditions to brew this beer. This might be the first time anyone has ever complimented London's hard water.

Our recipe was based on the A Very Good Stout recipe from the Brew Better Beer book by Emma Christensen.

Method: BIAB

Batch size: 7.5 litres

Estimated OG: 1.066

Estimated FG: 1.021

Estimated ABV: 5.9%

Estimated IBU (Tinseth): 27


1.8 kg Maris Otter Crisp (Extra Pale)

226 g Flaked Barley

142 g Chocolate Malt

142 g Roasted Barley

Hops: 60 min hop boil

  • 16 g Fuggles pellets, at 60 mins (4.7% AA)

  • 16 g Fuggles pellets, at 0 mins (4.7% AA)


WLP013 (White labs) - 1 package


1/2 tsp Irish Moss at 20 mins left of the hop boil


Mash between 64.5°C and 67°C, mash out to 76°C. 60 min hop boil.

Add 1/2 tsp Irish Moss in the last 20 mins of the hop boil.

Brew day - 30/05/20

Brew day beer was a dark Belgium beer, one of my faves. Leffe Brune is sweet and tasty, perfect accompaniment to brewing a stout.

The grain bill of this stout was more complicated than any of our previous brews and consisted of maris otter, chocolate malt, flaked barley and roasted barley.

We mashed the grains for 1 hour at 66°C in 7.58 litres of water, maintaining the temperature in the oven. Then proceeded to heat the grains to 76°C for a mash out step.

We then sparged with 7.58 litres of water.

The sparged wort was added to the first runnings wort and brought to a rolling boil. It was a very vigorous boil and there was a substantial amount of spillover.

We next added the hops. We had 2 hop additions. The first at 60 mins and the other at flameout (0 mins). The flameout addition was left for 15 mins with the heat off.

We tried to cool the wort in the bath tub to try to speed up the process. But it still took around 3 hours. However, we later found out that our thermometer had some issues so it might have cooled down a lot faster.

Once the wort had cooled to around 23°C we added it to the fermentor, this time through a mesh bag to get rid of any residue gunk and then pitched the yeast.

We ended up with 10 litres of wort rather than the estimated 7.5 litres from the recipe, which let us know that our boil off rate is low. As a result we did not lose as much water as was expected in the boil. Also because the wort was not as concentrated we ended up with a much lower OG of 1.054 rather than the estimated 1.066.

After some online searching I learnt that you can adjust the OG if you miss it by adding light dry malt extract. So we will buy some just in case this happens again in the future because 14 points off the OG might affect the flavour. This is probably going to be an issue for a stout that should have a fair amount of residual sugar.

We left the beer to ferment in the fermentation vessel for 14 days.

Bottling day - 13/06/20

I had a sip on bottling day and I am not sure I am a fan of this brew. There was an odd end taste that was less than desirable but I am hopeful that it will improve after carbonation.

We carbonated the beer with dextrose sugar. We first diluted 60 g of dextrose sugar in 180 ml of hot water, before adding it to the bottling bucket and slowly transferring the beer to the same bucket. The sugary beer was then transferred into bottles. We upgraded our kit by getting an autosiphon! I can't believe it took us so long to invest in an autosiphon. It is so much easier to work with and is a real gamechanger!

We ended up with 18 x 500 ml bottles of our stout.

Beer Day! - 27/06/20

Our first ever stout is complete! This one did get much better during bottle conditioning which was good because I was worried on bottling day. The stout had a distinctly dark appearance that was completely opaque. It was fairly well carbonated at first but there was little to no head retention. It smelt like Guinness which was promising but flavour wise there was only a mild sweetness with a predominant chocolate flavour but the beer had a very thin and light bodied for a stout. Overall I felt that it had the beginnings of a successful stout but it fell quite short. It needed more sweetness, more chocolate flavour and a much thicker body. I really want to give brewing a stout another go because we did not do it justice here. The lack of residual sweetness was part of the issue. I look forward to trying again. I also really want to have a go at brewing the official Black is beautiful beer in the future!

Tasting notes:

Colour: Dark almost black

Clarity: Can't see through at all

Taste: Mild sweetness and chocolate notes

Smell: Smells like Guinness

Carbonation: Medium carbonation, poor head retention

Alcohol level: 4.7%

Perceived alcohol level: Not too alcoholic

Desirable: Nah

Would I pay money for it?: No

Rating: 3/5

Have you ever brewed a stout? Any tips?

Check out our other homebrewed beers:


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