That'll keep away the rif raf...
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Cool! I just voted for Asheville. Thanks for the heads up!
Just curious, since I've never heard of Asheville as a beer center....why did you vote for them?
2. ....I would rather not use white sugar in my brewing, as I hear it leaves a bitter/cidery taste to the beer...
This is a myth promulgated by the paranoid OCD's of the brewing world. You would have to ad a huge amount, like 50% of the fermentables for this to happen, if then. Don't fear the foam, don't fear the cane sugar.
The dry malt would work as well but won't ferment 100% and will leave you with a higher finished gravity. Stick to the recipe.
I agree its a myth, but I also would disagree to use sugar in a stout for the most part. You'll get better results subbing out some light DME. You might sub out a little of the DME (maybe 5% of total fermentables) to assure proper attenuation.
Use Mister Malty calculator for starter size, light DME, 1/8 tsp of nutrient, foil on the top, stirplate vortex about 1.5 in wide and 1in deep, good yeast movement. On stirplate for 24hrs, then into frig over night, pulled out and decanted a few hours before pitching.