Beer of the Week: Castle Danger's dark chocolate stout
This week's beer of the week is Dark Chocolate Stout from Castle Danger Brewery. It's a mid-body stout complemented by milk and dark chocolate flavors and additives. There is a milky mouthfeel and complexion to the stout, and the dark chocolate complements and enhances a bitter finish while the predominant flavor profile is in the roasted malts. The beer is a take on the brewery's George Hunter Stout and this is their first time with these particular additives, having previously married the stout with Jack Daniel barrels and, separately, with cinnamon, vanilla, and raspberry.
Because of the additives the beer can be a varied experience. Out of a "mini growler" pour, the first pint came out dark brown/almost black with an opaque complexion, but the second and final pouring was much cloudier, with sediment remaining in the bottom. This pour was a deep dark brown, akin to the strongest chocolate milk. Unsurprisingly, the chocolate profile was stronger here but still never overpowered the dominant malt.
As with all Castle Danger beers, this brew was made in extremely limited supply and is available only from the brewery at present (which is currently on its last keg). Hot Dish caught up with brewer Clint MacFarlane to hear more about its origins.
It is always interesting trying new ingredients to use with a base recipe, even more so when the base is a big roasty stout. A big benefit of being a small brewery is trying new things without having to commit to thousands of dollars in ingredients and not have it turn out right. George Hunter Stout is almost an imperial stout (8% ABV) but doesn't quite make it there stylistically. To me this stout can be classified as an Imperial American Stout, if there is such a thing. The challenge in adding cocoa nibs and lactose into this beer was to get these added ingredients to show up and not let the beer get too bitter or overly sweet.
The first batch we brewed (there were only two) was the same as the original recipe with the added cocoa and lactose. On the ensuing batch we cut way back on the roasted malts, added nearly double the amount of lactose and nibs. While this made a dent in the original recipe we were a little underwhelmed. Thinking this beer was a total loss we then blended the two together and put the kegs into the cooler and let them sit for three weeks. The next time we tasted the beer was at the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival and it had changed pretty dramatically. Overall we are very happy with the way this beer turned out even after spending about 2 months to produce 180 gallons. If we do decide to brew this one again we will have a better understanding of how to pull it off and what to expect. This is the challenge that brewing brings day to day and is what makes it so fun and rewarding.
Castle Danger is in the midst of building a new facility in Two Harbors and aims for a June opening. In the meantime, growlers can be purchased at their Castle Danger location on Fridays and Saturdays.