All About Stout: the beers of Brewing TV #55

Dry Irish Stout

What can I say about this? It’s classic, it’s on the nitro, and it’s an NB kit:

Target OG 1.042
5 gallons, all grain

6 lbs Maris Otter
2 lbs flaked barley
1 lb roasted barley

152 F for 60 minutes
170 F for 10 minutes

1.5 oz Cluster (or equivalent … I had some Chinook pellets lying around) @ 60”

Chill, O2, and pitch Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale from a 1500 mL stir-plated starter. Primary at 65F. Inhale the offgas from the airlock (you know you want to): sharply coffeeish and grainy-sweet.

Rack to secondary after 12 days, crash cool and keg after 7 days (FG 1.012).

Packaging and such:
It should be mentioned here that the keg to which the beer was racked was fitted with a diffusion stone attached to the gas-in dip tube inside the keg with a couple feet of 1/4″ ID bev tubing. The dry stout was force-carbonated to a low level with CO2, then after a few days of cold conditioning, hooked up to what in my house is known as The Nitro, which lets us do this:

edit 2/13: The Nitro. Since BTV #55 posted, I’ve had some requests for more info on carbonating and serving. I’ll provide the disclaimer that this is just how I do it and isn’t meant to be gospel … in a nutshell: CO2 to about 1.8 psi (beer at 35F, regulator set to 8 psi), then vent, replace the CO2 hookup with beer gas and dispense at 35 psi through a stout faucet.

Extract version:

But of course.

Sraid Dhasain Single Stout

Or, a Dublin porter circa 1880, and named (in Gaelic) for the most awesome thoroughfare in Dublin city: Dawson Street.

Before we begin – cite your source, give a disclaimer! The grist formulation, hopping rate, and other historical data were gleaned from Mr. Ron Pattinson via his blog Shut Up About Barclay Perkins; the choice of specific malts, hops, and yeast, plus the mash, boil, and fermentation schedules for this re-interpretation of an old beer are mine.

“Single Stout” is what Guinness used to call their basic porter, elided from “single stout porter.” “Stout”  in those days – like “mild” – being not a beer style in its own right, but an adjective; in this case denoting a stronger and burlier iteration. Therefore stout porter would be bigger, presumably in both gravity and hopping, than plain old “porter.” And eventually “Single Stout” itself was elided into just “stout,” which became a style and ceased being an adjective.

But if you sneak a peak at the constituents of the grist in the recipe below, you’ll see this isn’t really dry Irish stout as we understand it today. What’s different? Amber and black malt are in, unmalted flaked and roasted barley are out (brewing with unmalted grains was illegal at this point in UK brewing history – England gained revenue from its Malt Tax, so brewers weren’t permitted to use adjuncts; flaked and roast barley didn’t find their way into Irish ales until later). Higher OG. Quite a hop rate, if not significantly more bitterness.

“So it’s basically a robust porter brewed in Ireland back when Queen Victoria was breeding Volpinos.” Yeah, but … shut up. My reading of Mr. Pattinson is that what made Irish porters uniquely Irish was the eager and early adoption of highly-roasted black malt by the brewers; the omission of brown malt (English porter brewers were still in love with comparatively pale-colored and toasty-but-not-burnt-flavored brown malt); and the persistence of Irish brewers in blending new and aged beers (which English porter brewers had more or less given up on at this point in the 19th century in favor of “entire”, but which Guinness still practices today). Alas, I have no suitable aged beers in my cellar with which to blend this batch, so I’ll just have to find a way to choke it down unblended …

So then: 85% pale malt, 10% amber malt, and 5% black malt, target OG of 1.060, single infusion mash in the mid 150s F for body. A single big bittering charge of low-alpha hops to fiftysomething IBUs, fermentation with Wyeast’s Irish Ale strain … let’s get jiggy.

Sraid Dhasain Single Stout Porter
OG 1.060
5 gallons, all grain

9 lbs Warminster Maris Otter
1 lbs Amber malt
10 oz Black patent malt

154 F for 75 minutes
168 F for 10 minutes

4.5 oz East Kent Goldings (whole) 3% aa @ 60”

Chill, O2, and pitch Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale from a 2000 mL stir-plated starter. Primary at 65F. Inhale the offgas from the airlock (you know you want to): warm and toasty, with a strong roast component and a surprising level of herbal hop.

Rack to secondary after 12 days, crash cool and keg after 7 days (FG 1.016), carbonate to a low level (I did about 1 vol. of CO2), condition for about a week and then get on it. There you go.

Partial mash version:
Amber malt requires a mash, so my fellow stovetop extract brewers (and I still do stovetop extract batches) can grab a big mesh bag and a strainer and also get jiggy:

5 gallons, partial boil*

2.5 lbs Warminster Maris Otter
1 lbs Amber malt
10 oz Black patent malt

154 F for 75 minutes
168 F for 10 minutes

6 lbs Northern Brewer Gold malt syrup
6 oz Goldings (whole) 3%aa @ 60”

* – if you do a full-volume boil, scale the hop addition back to 4.5 oz as for the all-grain version


Further reading and watching: – Episode 55 includes the brew day and tasting notes

Getting Carbonation Right with Kegs

Carbonating your beer, cider, or soda in kegs can be simple, easy, and quick. There are a few things to know in advance, and a few different methods. This guide will go over them for you. Most carbonation in kegs is done using pressurized CO2 from a gas cylinder, a process called force carbonation. The fastest results can be achieved when the beer in the keg is at a cold temperature. This will let the CO2 diffuse into the beer more efficiently and at a faster rate.

The most accurate and easiest method for force carbonating is often referred to as the “set it and forget it method.” On page 2 of this document, select your refrigerator temperature and your desired carbonation rate, set your CO2 regulator to that pressure, and wait 5-10 days for the beer to carbonate.

A more accelerated method of force carbonation involves putting 30-40 PSI of CO2 into your chilled keg of beer, and shaking or rocking the keg to diffuse the gas at a faster rate. Depending on how cold your beer is, and how much you agitate the beer, you can have your beer carbonated in anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days. Once it is carbonated, dial your CO2 regulator down to serving pressure, and vent excess CO2 out of your keg. It is advised that you wait an hour or two for the beer to settle down before serving.

Another way to carbonate in kegs is with priming sugar, or any other fermentable sugar. For a 5 gallon batch, just go by the same amount of sugar that you would for a bottle conditioned batch, typically 5 ounces for priming sugar. This will take 2-3 weeks for carbonation.

For more information, read our Kegging Overview or watch this short video:

Balancing Draft Systems

Proper balancing of a draft system is key to excellent presentation and serving of your homemade and commercially produced beverages. The most common side effects of an unbalanced draft system are overly foamy pours or slow pours. Err on the side of too much restriction, as a slow pour is better than a foamy one. Proper balance is determined by the pressure your beer is at, and the resistance (in units of pounds of resistance per foot) on the system. Resistance is provided by a couple of variables; we will talk about the most prevalent, tubing and elevation change. We’ll assume a keg pressure of 12 PSI, you may want to change that based on your desired carbonation rate.

Most home draft systems use 3/16” ID vinyl beverage tubing, which has a restriction of 3 pounds per foot. To achieve balance with your beer at 12 PSI, use 4 feet of 3/16” tubing (4 feet x 3 PSI per foot = 12 pounds of total restriction). For beer at 15 PSI, you would use 5 feet of 3/16” tubing.

¼” tubing has a much lower restriction than 3/16”, at .85 pounds of restriction per foot. For beer at 12 PSI, it would take 14 feet of tubing to get the same amount of restriction that you would for 4 feet of 3/16.

Gravity has an important impact, the above examples do not take into account the affect of elevation change with your beer. One foot of upwards elevation change imparts a half pound of restriction. Going downwards decreases your restriction by .5 pound per foot. If your draft system goes up 6 feet before serving, and you had your keg at 12 PSI, you would need 10.5 feet of ¼” tubing. If you were going down 6 feet, you’d need 5 feet of 3/16” ID tubing.

A little bit of multiplication can save you a lot of trouble when all you want is a perfect pint from your taps. For further information, please visit

Choosing the Correct Keg Parts

When working with used kegs, there are a number of different types of posts, valves, and disconnects available. It is important to select compatible hardware to ensure your kegs hold pressure.

There are two basic types of soda kegs: pin lock and ball lock kegs. Pin lock kegs are identifiable by the nubs or “pins” that stick out perpendicular to the posts. Northern Brewer only carries ball lock kegs, so that’s what this guide will discuss.

Once you have identified that you have ball lock kegs, the next thing you may want to identify is the type of posts you have on the keg. The posts are the round stainless steel fittings on top of the keg, on either side of the lid hatch, that accept disconnects. They screw on to the kegs, and they have a small, spring loaded poppet valve in the center which keeps the keg pressurized when not in use. Aside from o-rings, posts and post poppets are the most common items that need to be replaced.

All keg posts are designated for either gas or liquid. They can be distinguished by a horizontal notch around the base of the gas post – liquid posts do not have this notch. Type A posts have a very short, flat base which is either hex shaped or star shaped. Type B posts have a taller base which is also sometimes slimmer, requiring a ⅞” socket. If your posts fit this type of socket, you have type B posts. Type C posts are fairly rare; they have a large hex shaped base and include a plastic spacer inside the post, underneath the poppet. A quick internet search should help you determine the exact post type, if needed. The poppet valves on posts may need to be replaced if they are leaking or sticking.

All ball lock kegs accept universal ball lock disconnects. Gas disconnects can only be used on gas posts, and the same goes for liquid. To attach the disconnect, pull up on the collar at the bottom of the disconnect, snap it on the keg post by pushing down and twisting, and then release the collar to ensure it’s attached. When selecting your disconnects you can either choose ones with barbed fittings or threaded mfl fittings for keg tubing. MFL disconnects require an additional barbed swivel nut in order to be attached to tubing, but this makes it easier to disconnect and reattach tubing for cleaning. Barbed disconnects function just as well, but they require a little more elbow grease.

O-rings are the most common item on a keg that will need to be replaced. Old age can cause them to leak, or they may need to be replaced if they have absorbed odors from soda, wine, smoked beers, etc. The Used-Keg Seal Kit has all of the o-rings required for a ball lock soda keg. It is a good idea to purchase one of these with each keg, or at least to have some around when replacements are needed.

A Fresh Take On Soda

I’m sure many of you homebrewers out there have considered making soda at one time or another. It only makes sense: those who homebrew often make a lot of things for themselves. Soda should be no different.

You’ve seen the soda extracts that many shops (including NB) sell, which I myself partake in from time to time. They make good, quality sodas and the majority of the work is done for you.

Making soda is easy and usually involves two approaches, either natural or forced carbonation. Natural carbonation involves letting yeast begin to ferment the sugars available in the soda in a closed container (glass or PET bottle). The amount of CO2 produced from the yeast carbonates the soda before any real alcohol is produced. Forced carbonation most commonly involves a homebrew kegging system. No yeast needed, just dissolve sugar in water,  mix in your soda extract, and carbonate.

The following soda recipe and directions I mentioned utilize a homebrew kegging system for forced carbonation. This recipe can be made with natural carbonation using yeast, but for sake of ease I prefer the forced carbonation method. This inspiration for this recipe was given to me from NB employee Ilya Soroka.

What’s different here is what you consider a soda: is it something sickly sweet, loaded with high high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and too much caffeine;  or can it be a healthy, delicious, and refreshing beverage?

Check out this recipe for a new, fresh take on soda.

Orange/ Carrot/Ginger Soda (3 gallons)


  • 2 Gallons Orange Juice (from oranges or from concentrate)
  • 5 lbs. Carrots (tops removed)
  • 1 branch* of Ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 Gallon Water
  • Juicer
  • Funnel (sanitized)
  • 3 or 5 gallon soda keg (also sanitized)


  1. Place the  sanitized funnel in the open keg hatch and position it under your juicer.
  2. Juice the oranges, carrots and ginger (I typically find juicing the ginger knobs with the carrots or oranges easier than alone).
  3. Top the keg off with water to desired level of consistency and sweetness.
  4. Attach the keg lid and purge head space with CO2.
  5. Carbonate with CO2 to 3 – 4 volumes.
  6. Keep refrigerated at all times to maintain freshness.

No sugar added, all natural and delicious.

The possibilities are endless: pick your favorite fruits (and/or veggies), juice them, and carbonate. Not to mention, those who just like carbonated water can make their own “club soda.”

I will be experimenting with some strawberry-watermelon soda this summer – I’ll keep you updated!

* This is what a “branch” of ginger looks like, way bigger than a “knob:”


Problem: Meads tend to take a long time to age and are too high gravity to quaff as a refreshment. Solution: Mini-Hefe-Hydro-Melo-Mel. Read more

How to Make a Bicycle Pump Keg Dispensor

What I’m about to detail is sacrilege to many homebrewers, so let me preface this with some disclaimers.

  1. This will definitely oxidize your beer and make it go stale in a hurry.
  2. I probably didn’t think this one up myself.
  3. Bike pump air may not be “sanitary.”
  4. I am an incredibly cheap person. That refers to how much I like to spend, not how much I personally cost. If I wasn’t, I’d just go ahead and buy a damn co2 tank.

Now, on to the fun stuff. Have you ever bought a commercial keg for a party and used that tap with the hand pump on it to dispense it? If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume that you have. Well, it is incredibly easy to fabricate something like this for your standard 5 gallon homebrew keg using a bicycle pump and some parts from Northern Brewer. Use a little ingenuity and you can have an entire kegging system with a fairly minor start-up cost. The only condition is that, like getting a commercial keg with a hand-pump tap, you’ll have to finish your keg in a day or so, before it goes stale and flat.

What you’ll need:

  • k028: A used 5 gallon ball-lock keg.
  • kx15: Used keg seal kit. Let’s keep it clean, y’all.
  • kx05: Foam-free tubing kit ball-lock version.
  • 4 feet of k025: 1/4″ beverage tubing. For the gas side of things.
  • k012: 1/4″ barb gas ball-lock disconnect.
  • 2 of K124: Worm gear clamps. You can tighten them with a screwdriver.
  • A used bicycle tube with a Schraeder valve. This is the standard American bicycle tube. Bike shops will give you used flat tubes if you ask. All you want is the valve, so it doesn’t matter if the rubber is busted open.
  • A bike pump.

To make the gas line, cut out the valve from the tube and then trim the rubber off of it. The 1/4″ tubing should fit nicely over it and you can then clamp it down using the worm-gear clamp. Attach and clamp the other end of the tubing to the barb on the gas disconnect. Then simply hook a bike pump up to the valve to dispense the beer.

With this equipment you can dispense your beer, but what about carbonating? Trust me, you don’t want to try to carbonate your beer with a bike pump, but you can easily carbonate the beer the old fashioned way using priming sugar. And finally, don’t forget to chill your beer down before serving so that it can absorb the appropriate amount of c02. Here in Minnesota we can often leave it on the back porch for a few hours at freezing temps or put it into a bucket with some snow and water.

Warning: Keg stands not recommended for 5 gallon corny kegs, as they are not large enough to support the average homebrewer.

The toy you’ll inevitably need

Three reasons to own a handheld CO2 keg charger:

1. You often host parties, late in the evening on weekends. Your guests are so taken with your beer they’re bringing their own steins. When your cylinder goes empty at midnight, you won’t be lamenting your local homebrew store’s hours!

2. You like your homebrew & your personal space, so you’ve chosen to live between major cities where both a LBHS and cylinder filling stores are distant. A CO2 cartridge injection is the easiest way to maintain a steady pour, and several charges over a single day can provide a more than humble level of carbonation.

3. You’re a backpacker or recreationalist who often finds oneself miles from anything. Where anything heavier than a 3 gallon keg can’t go, the handheld CO2 charger thrives!

Be the Envy of Your Peer Group

I do not miss the old days of bottling. In fact I loathe them.

Dishpan hands, interminable dirty bottles, sticky floors, wasted beer, inexact carbonation… and O! the time. The time spent on a weekend afternoon, a slave to the kitchen, hunched over a linoleum floor paying homage with dribbled beer sacrifices to the bottling gods.

In the end you have to ask yourself what your free time is worth. With a kegging system, in the time it takes to wash, sanitize, transfer and package 50 odd bottles of beer, you could wash and sanitize your keg, fill it, carbonate it, make dinner, go outside for a run, brew another batch of beer, cure world hunger, blow your own glass bottles… well, you get the idea. Read more