Chocolate Milk Stout- 3 (or 4) Ways

I’m now working part-time at St. Louis Wine & Beermaking. They are pushing me to brew beers I’ve never brewed, to push my brewing envelope. I was all prepped to brew a stout. I’ll tweak the recipe to brew a milk stout using lactose sugars. I’ve been enjoying 4 Hands Chocolate Milk Stout, so I may take some of the milk stout and add chocolate. I had the crazy idea years ago to do a chocolate banana stout. Maybe I take 5 gallons and rack them over bananas and see what comes out. Another option is a mocha stout with milk sugars, chocolate and coffee. Since these additional flavors can be added at secondary fermentation, I can make that call after I brew.

This will be my first 15 gallon batch on my own. The recipe is actually for 17 gallons, so I’ve got some room to lose beer through racking and still end up with 15 gallons on the other end.

Grain Bill-

  • 24# Maris Otter
  • 3# US chocolate malt
  • 3# wheat malt
  • 3# 80L Crystal malt
  • 2.5# flaked barley
  • 1.9# roasted barley

Hop Bill-

  • 4 oz EKG 6.6% 60′
  • 1 oz Fuggles 5.1% 30′
  • 1 oz Fuggles 5.1% 10′

Yeast- Wyeast Irish Ale from last year.

Calculated Stats-

  • OG = 1.060
  • FG = 1.016
  • ABV = 5.7%
  • IBU = 28

Brew Schedule-

  • Strike 12 gallons of liquor at 170F (ambient temp 30’s)
  • Mash in @ 155F hold 2 hours
  • Mash out @ 169F w/ 6-7 gallons
  • Sparge with 7 gallons
  • Boil down to 17 gallons

Brew Day Notes-

November 20, 2014- Sunny, light winds, temps in the 30’s.

  • Began heating water and grinding grains at 8 AM
  • Strike water at 168 F @ 9 AM
  • 9:20- Completely mashed in with 12 gallons of liquor. Mash temp 152F. Added grains and liquor in doses, continually adding hotter water and still couldn’t get temp up to 155F.
  • 9:50- Added about 3 gallons of 190 F water to mash to bring temp up to 158 F.
  • 10:50- Bumped mash with 1 gallon 190 F water. Mash temp 158F.
  • 11:00- Attempted mash out. Added 2-3 gallons of 190 F water. Mash temp 160 F.
  • 11:10- Began recirculation.
  • 11:20- Began lauter.
  • 11:30- Began sparge with 7 gallons.
  • 11:50- Added 3 more gallons of sparge water. The water level dipped way below the grain bed. I only used 1 sparge bucket, which was a mistake. Couldn’t get the sparge water in fast enough. Slowed the outgoing lauter a bit. Mildly concerned that I won’t end up with enough wort to boil.
  • 12:20 PM- Lauter complete. Collected 22 gallons in kettle.
  • 1:00- Ran out of propane just as kettle was coming to a boil. Quick trip to Lowe’s.
  • 1:15- Strong boil. With 22 gallons, I will boil off some excess before hopping.
  • 1:45- Pulled sample for hyrdometer reading. After cooling gravity checked 1.050 on my hydrometer, which tends to read a few points low.
  • 2:25- 20 gallons. Added 4 ounces of EKG.
  • 2:55- Added 1 ounce Fuggles.
  • 3:10- Added cooling coil.
  • 3:15- Added 1 ounce Fuggles.
  • 3:20- Added 3 pounds lactose.
  • 3:25- End Boil. Sadly, I broke my hydrometer while prepping for the coldbreak, so there will no official gravity reading. Based on the earlier reading, as well as the calculated gravity, I expect the starting gravity to be on target at 1.060.

A long day of brewing on my own. Emma helped me rack the beer into primary. Ended up with 17 gallons as expected. Emma commented that it smelled really good, which is a good sign. I thought it smelled great myself, very chocolatey and there’s no cocoa in it yet.


I racked the 17 gallons from the primary 10 days after brew day, when I returned from the Knoxville Thanksgiving trip. Gravity was way too high at 1.030, but I’m noting that the temps dropped into the 50’s since we had lowered the thermostat upstairs. I racked the beer into (2) 5 gallon carboys, (1) 7 gallon, and (1) 1/2 gallon. All of them got a proportional shot of the chocolate tincture. One of the five gallons got all of the coffee tincture, which may have been too much, but we’ll see. The 1/2 gallon jug got three frozen bananas in it first for the Banana Chocolate Milk Stout experiment. Naturally, the sugars kicked off another fermentation, which spouted out the top for a couple of days. I racked this into a clean 1/2 gallon jug after a week and then moved all the carboys upstairs to warm up in order to bring the gravity down. Additionally, I try to give them an occasional shake to keep things active.  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks from brew day and the airlocks are still quietly bubbling.

I bought some blueberry schnapps to add to one of the 5 gallon carboys. I spoke with Kerri, Dave, and Gary at St. Louis Wine and Beermaking, and Kerri suggested that I use a fruit syrup used in daiquiris to flavor the stout. I found these daiquiris syrups at the liquor store but also found schnapps and flavored vodkas. The vodkas added a lot of alcohol and I wondered how strong the blueberry would be. I wanted a strong flavor and a low alcohol. I would have likely chosen a syrup, but they didn’t have blueberry, which was what I was really looking for (I would have also considered peanut butter). After much deliberation, I went with the blueberry schnapps. The alcohol level is around 15% abv, and it’s designed to be used as a mixer in other drinks.

Stuck Fermentation-

December 16- Four weeks from brew day

I racked all three carboys and the 1/2 gallon jug of banana stout today and they are all still at 1.028, too sweet, too syrupy, not finished. The flavors aren’t bad with the mocha stout being the best at this point and the banana experiment nearly undrinkable. I’ll let them rest and consider pitching more, maybe different yeast.

Dave at St. Louis Wine & Beer suggested I add Nottingham Ale yeast, which is a dry yeast with a clean, neutral profile. I told him the temps in the basement dropped when we went to Knoxville, likely below 60 F, and he thinks the yeast got sluggish, fell to the bottom and never had a chance to really wake up. He suggested the Nottingham yeast or perhaps a new yeast, CBC, which stands for Cask and Bottle Conditioning. Both yeasts can be used as a “rescue” yeast to save a beer that’s stuck in fermentation.

I added a packet of dry Nottingham yeast to each carboy and they all went off like volcanoes. I’ve never seen such an immediate reaction and had to carry one carboy immediately to the bathroom as it was foaming over. They quickly settled into a steady bubble and I moved them all downstairs, back to the 63 F temps of the basement.

January 6, 2015

Checked the gravity yesterday. Still stuck at 1.028. I added CBC-1 yeast from Lallemand for one last attempt to fix it.

Kegging- January 8, 2015

After a couple days the slow bubble came to a stop. I checked gravity and it still appeared to be at about 1.028. I’m kinda tired of dealing with it, so I kegged it up. While kegging I poured a full pint sample from the carboy. It was flat and warm, but to be honest, it wasn’t awful, better than I anticipated.

  • 1 keg of chocolate milk stout
  • 1 keg of mocha stout
  • 1 keg of blueberry chocolate milk stout

I added a bottle (750 ml) of blueberry schnapps to flavor the blueberry stout. It’s probably too much, but I’m done with it.

I still have three half gallon growlers with stout in them. The kegs were full and didn’t need topping off. Not sure what to do with that. It may just get pitched. Or maybe I drink it flat.

Cacao Nib Tincture-

A lot of different thoughts about how to add the cacao nibs, but I chose to make a tincture and then add it at secondary because it seemed the most foolproof as well as the best way to get the most chocolate flavor. The tincture recipe came from the Maltose Falcons.

Vanilla is an important component of chocolate flavor and helps convey “sweetness” without actually being sweet and cloying. It takes a few days longer, but it’s worth it.

For 6 ounces

  • 6 oz Vodka
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
  • 3 oz Cacao Nibs (roasted is better)
  1. Mix the vodka and vanilla bean (and parts) in a tight sealing jar like a jelly jar or mason jar. Shake every day, several times, for 7 days.
  2. Add the nibs for another 4 days, continue to shake
  3. Strain the nibs and vanilla out of the dark extract. Discard
  4. Place the extract in the freezer overnight.
  5. In the morning, carefully scrape out the fat cap of cocoa butter and discard. Remove any floaty bits and then store the extract on the shelf for approximately a year.

I made a triple batch-

  • 18 oz Vodka
  • 3 Vanilla Beans
  • 12 oz of Cacao Nibs (I got these at the brew store; I don’t think they were roasted but it didn’t say on the package; they were sold in 4 ounce packages, so I bought a little extra for extra chocolatey)

I split and scraped the vanilla beans and put it in the vodka in a 1/2 gallon jug, too big really for 18 oz, and gave it a shake several times a day for a week. I then added 12 oz cacao nibs and did the same for 4 days. To strain off the flotsam, I put a funnel in a mason jar and lined it with a coffee filter, but the coffee filer proved to be too restrictive and made it difficult for the tincture to get through. I replaced the coffee filter with a piece of muslin, which worked better. The cacao nibs seemed to have soaked up some of the vodka, so the tincture was lacking in volume. I poured a shot of fresh vodka into the jug with some remaining nibs and gave it a swirl and then poured the chocolatey goodness over the bed of nibs in the funnel, twice. This added some volume and seemed to lauter the nibs as i would the grains. Then into the freezer it went.

Coffee Tincture-

I’m not sure coffee can be called a tincture; I think it’s just coffee, but I wanted a cold press recipe to use for this process. Again, there seems to be a bunch of ways to add coffee to the beer, but this made the most sense to me. It was the first cold coffee recipe that popped up on google.

  • 4 1/2 ounces coarsely ground coffee (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2 pints cold water
  1. Place the coffee grounds in a 2-quart pitcher, add the water, and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let steep at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard coffee filter and fit it over a medium bowl. Working in batches, slowly pour the coffee into the filter until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer (the coffee will pass through in a slow stream; don’t force it through); stop when you reach the solids at the bottom of the pitcher (don’t pour them in). Discard the grounds and the contents of the strainer.
  3. Wash and dry the pitcher. Transfer the strained coffee into the pitcher. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 5 days.

I bought a half pound of Kaldi’s whole bean Espresso 700, their “signature espresso blend.” It supposedly is in the middle-of-the-road in terms of darkness and shouldn’t be bitter. I ground two full batches in the grinder, which was a little over a cup and a half of grounds. I added the cold water to a 1/2 gallon jug, added the coffee, shook it and set it in the basement overnight.

In Retrospect-

April 19, 2015- I’ve now tapped the last of the chocolate milk stouts, the mocha stout. Of the three, it was the best. The plain chocolate milk stout was also good. I was not happy with the blueberry stout, no blueberry flavor or aroma, just a added sweetness to an already sweet beer.

David, at St. Louis Wine & Beer Making, “fixed” a flat keg of this beer by showing me to roll it back and forth on it’s side. I was able to fix the mocha stout this way, and it is 10X better well carbonated.

Overall, it hasn’t been worth all the extra fuss. I miss my simple dry stout. This mocha stout certainly has merits that could be pursued in the future, but this doesn’t need to be a staple beer that I brew every year. David suggested adding oatmeal to the grain bill when I complained it lacked body; he said a little oatmeal would give it the chewyness I was looking for.

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