Golden Stout Beer Brewing

by Brad Smith on December 8, 2020 · 0 comments

Though not a recognized beer style, Golden Stout has been popularized by many craft breweries as a bit of a novelty beer. This week we take a look at how to brew one.

What is a Golden Stout?

A golden stout is technically a beer that tastes like a rich dark stout, but without the color. Most have a blonde or perhaps amber color. It is certainly a novelty or niche beer, but interesting from a brewer’s perspective because the beer is brewed without the dark roasted grains we associate with traditional stouts.

The illusion is pulled off by brewing the beer using traditional stout ingredients, but without the dark roast malts. Often flaked oats or barley are used to add a rich body to the beer. To get the “roast” flavors, coffee beans and cacao nibs (chocolate) are used.

While there is no defined style for Golden Stouts, most attempt to approximate the flavor of a traditional English or American Stout. This would place it in roughly the 5-7% ABV range with a starting gravity between 1.050 and 1.075. Depending on the overall goal, bitterness could be as low as 25 IBUs up to perhaps 60-70 IBUs for a bitter American example. To maintain the illusion, color should be in either the Blonde (3-7 SRM) or perhaps into the Amber (7-11 SRM) range.

Designing a Golden Stout Recipe

Most Golden Stout recipes start with a 75-85% base of Pale Malt, though I’ve also seen some use Pilsner malt for up to half of that portion to lighten the color even more. I prefer Maris Otter as it provides a good malty base. To this, we typically add 15% either flaked barley or flaked oats to provide the deep rich body needed for a stout.

I’ve also seen some recipes use Munich malt or light (10-20 L) Caramel malt to provide additional sweetness to the base. This can be important for sweeter stout styles.

For hops, you would use a traditional English hops like East Kent Goldings (or your other English favorite) for an English style and hop to a level where you get roughly a balanced bitterness ratio – perhaps around 0.5-0.6. For the American variant you can choose your favorite American bittering hop and bump the hops up a bit to perhaps a bitterness ratio of 0.6-0.8.

To brew the beer, use a “full body” mash schedule by bumping the mash temperature up to the 154-156 F (68 C) range. Ferment using either an English or American ale yeast and let it ferment to completion. Dry hopping may be appropriate for the American style.

The final step, of course, is to add the critical coffee/chocolate flavoring without significantly changing the color of the beer. This is done by steeping a combination of coffee beans, cacao nibs, and sometimes also vanilla in the secondary. Achieving the right balance can be a difficult process and I’ve had several brewers say they went overboard on the coffee flavor.

The direct approach is to add the coffee beans, cacao nibs and either vanilla extract or vanilla beans directly to the fermenter and leave them there for up to 7 days. The problem with this is if you have the balance of ingredients off slightly you will end up with an unbalanced beer that does not taste like a stout.

An alternate approach is to steep the coffee beans and cacao nibs separately in something like diluted vodka for a week or two first, and then use the vodka along with vanilla extract to achieve the right balance. You do this by drawing off a known volume of beer and then adding carefully measured volumes of the various extracts until you achieve the flavor balance you are looking for. Once you know the volumes needed, scale them up to the full batch size proportionally and add them.

This approach will get you the right flavor balance up front. I would start with a pound (455 g) of coffee beans (medium roast) in just enough vodka to cover the beans, 6 oz (170 g) of cacao nibs in separate vodka and perhaps 1-2 tsp of vanilla extract for a 5 gallon (19 l) batch. Steep the beans and nibs for at least 7-14 days, though you can go much longer. Those are rough numbers but should provide you with enough flavor extract to achieve the right balance using the method above.

For reference, here are some Golden Stout recipes from the site. I hope you enjoyed this week’s article from the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Please subscribe for regular weekly delivery, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send this article to a friend.

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