So my wife and I visited Dogfish Head on our honeymoon earlier this year. When we got to the brewpub they had a really off the wall beer on draft called Black and Red, an Imperial Stout with tons of mint in it. It clocked in at about 10.5% and was actually a very deep rep color, not black like a normal stout (hence the name). I felt like the mint was overpowering, my wife liked it quite a bit though.
While doing an inventory I found that I had some misc ingredients that I had no use for in the near future, including 3 lbs of Dark DME, 1/2 lb of chocolate malt and 1/2 lb of debittered black malt. I decided that instead of a full batch this week I would do a 3 gallon batch of something, using those ingredients. Then the thought occurred to me "man, this is the heart of the growing season, I bet there's a ton of mint in the garden that I could use!" Thus the plan was formed; I would try my hand at a mint stout in the style of Black and Red, though tweaked to my taste. Here's what I have so far.
Mint Chocolate Stout
Target OG 1.094
Target FG 1.018
Target IBU 50-70, I've not yet decided
Target ABV 10-11%
Target SRM - none, very dark. I'm not going to try for the deep red color
8oz Chocolate Malt, steeped
8oz Debittered Black Malt, steeped
I'm not opposed to picking up more grains if needed, i also used Dingeman's Cara 8, Dehusked Carafa III, honey malt and cara 45 in my last Imperial Stout. I have some Munich and Special Roast on-hand, though neither of these seem appropriate.
3lbs Dark DME
2lbs Light DME
1lb Molasses (10 mins)
1/2 tsp Irish Moss
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
O2 injection used
pitch 1(?) rehydrated satchet of US-05 (Does anyone have other suggestions?)
As far as hops go, I don't have much on hand for clean bittering hops. The closest I have is 2oz Northern Brewer, I have some other medium to low alpha hops around as well such as Fuggles, First Gold, Bramling Cross, Cluster and some others that are not even close to correct. I was thinking I'd use either the northern Brewer or go pick up some Chinook, Warrior, Magnum or CTZ from my LHBS. I'm hesitant to be too heavy-handed with my hop additions for fear of overwhelming the mint and chocolate flavors I'll be using, so I'm leaning towards the low end of the style range for IBU's, right around 50-60. Any recommendations?
For the chocolate flavor (not present in the Red and Black) I was planning to use some cocoa nibs in secondary, pretty straightforward though I've not used them before. For the mint.... well, I'm not really sure where to go with it. I have tons of fresh mint to use and could dehydrate it if necessary. I've seen 2 other recipes using it. One calls for 6oz dried peppermint in a muslin bag added to 1 gallon of boiling water and removed from the heat, covered and let stand overnight. I assume this method is used primarily for cooling purposes, as it is from an old fashioned brewing book (Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, Stephen Harrod Buhner) and I can't imagine there's a need to steep the mint for 8+ hours to extract it's goodness. It then calls for the remaining water (3 gallons) to be added and brought to 150 F then to add the malt extract, cover, and let cool naturally. This strikes me as a nightmare recipe, It requires a ton of passive prep, has no boil and no hops! It does, however, give me some insight regarding the quantity of mint to use.
The second recipe, from the same book, calls for 1/2 oz dried peppermint and 1 gallon of water. You split the water with the primary brewing ingredients (12 oz rye flower, 1oz wheat flower, 4 oz barley malt) in one half and the mint in the other. The mint is boiled, the other ingredients are brought to 170 F and both are allowed to sit for 90 minutes off the heat before combining them. The whole shebang, solids and all, are pitched into and allowed to ferment, then strained and bottled. In short, another nightmare recipe, though this one has markedly less mint and it is handled much differently. Perhaps boiling extracts more oils from the mint, similarly to the way hops are handled?
If anyone has experience brewing with mint I'd appreciate any advice you have, it's really the big unknown of this recipe. I can calculate my way through everything else, but the mint is mysterious and somewhat intimidating, I've seen what it can do if overused! I'm hoping to have this beer ready to drink my around Xmas, I think 3 months in the bottle should be long enough to be consumed. What's everyone think?