100 Bottles of Beer – the Tale of the Black Pearl and Jamaica Mon!

Aye Mateys, we are about to embark on a perilous journey to the Caribbean in search of the infamous Black Pearl, that ghostly ship pirated by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow his self!

No, no, wait; wrong story, wrong pearl. How about if I at least promise a little Jamaican vacation? Irie, Mon!

Lookout! Here come a couple of very unusual stouts. They would have fit well in part 27 with the other unusual, non-standard ingredients. The first of which contains probably the most unusual ingredient I have ever used, oysters. Now many will contend that an oyster stout does not actually contain oysters but is merely a stout that goes well with oysters, which I believe all stouts do. But I have found many references, recipes, and commercial brews which would prove otherwise. I found this particular recipe on byo.com which is the web site for Brew Your Own home brewer’s magazine and just had to try it. I increased the oysters and changed the hops to what I had on hand.

Black Pearl Oyster Stout

9 lbs British 2-row pale malt

½ lb flaked oats

1 lb British roasted barley

½ lb British chocolate malt

¼ lb British black patent malt

16 fl oz fresh frozen oysters thawed and drained

1 tsp Irish Moss

1 ½ oz Home Grown Brewers Gold whole cone hops (60 min)

½ oz Home Grown Brewers Gold whole cone hops (20 min)

¼ oz Home Grown Perle whole cone hops (20 min)

4 tsp Burton Water Salts

UCCS 1084 Irish ale yeast

Priming: ½ cup corn sugar & ½ cup DME

Heat 4 gallons cold water treated with water salts to 166F. Mash in and stabilize temperature at 152F. Cover and let mash for 60 minutes. Lauter and sparge with 170F water and collect 7 gallons of wort. This took quite awhile due to stuck mash caused by the flaked oats. I would suggest adding some rice hulls to facilitate filtration.

Bring to boil and boil for 60 minutes before starting hop additions. Add hops at times indicated for additional 60 minute boil. Add Irish Moss and oysters in final 15 minutes of boil. Total boil time 120 minutes.

Remove the hop bags and oysters and cool wort before pouring into fermenter with yeast. OG was 1.050

Although original recipe advised against eating the oysters, I had to try them. They were not particularly good but not terrible as warned.

The primary fermentation went very quickly and the beer was racked to a secondary after 4 days. The gravity at this point was 1.016 for about 4.5% ABV.

Primed and bottled after 8 days in secondary. FG was 1.015 for 4.6% ABV. It had a nice roasted flavor with a hint of saltiness in the finish. No obvious oyster flavor or aroma. I believe it was a bit over-hopped for the style and this was masking the oyster, briny, salty flavor it is meant to have.

Over time the hops fell off a bit and the saltiness became more apparent. It also developed a slight oyster aroma when first opened on the last few bottles. Overall, this was an excellent brew from start to finish. If I were to make it again I would increase the base malt for a bit higher gravity and decrease the hops a bit.

Now, it is time for the Jamaican vacation I promised. I think I may have created a new style of beer with this one; Jamaican Stout. This brew came about when I ran across a kilo of cinnamon infused Coconut Palm sugar. This sugar is from Bali and is actually made from the sap of a coconut palm tree and is very sweet.

I thought long and hard about how to use this sugar in a brew. I knew it should be something tropical due to its unique origin; maybe something Caribbean with fruit juices and Caribbean Scotch Bonnet or habanero pepper. Then I hit on it, jerk spices, plus all of the above. Thus was born, Jamaican Stout. I believe Bali is actually in the South Pacific, but you get the idea. A few of you out there have been anxiously awaiting this recipe ever since I slipped you a sample bottle, well, here it is.

Jamaican Stout

8 lb 2-row Pale malt

1 lb 120L Crystal malt

½ lb Chocolate malt

½ lb Black Patent malt

1 lb Cinnamon Coconut Palm Sugar

16 oz Organic pineapple juice with pulp (end of boil)

8 oz Organic coconut juice with pulp (end of boil)

16 oz Organic pineapple juice with pulp (secondary)

8 oz Organic coconut juice with pulp (secondary)

2 oz Homegrown Brewers Gold hops (60 min)

¾ oz Homegrown Brewers Gold hops (15 min)

1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 min)

1 Tb Jamaican Jerk spices (5 min)

1 Habanero pepper (secondary)

UCCS 1338 European Ale yeast

Priming: Carb Drops

I actually made two batches of this, one after the other with minor differences. They were both excellent but I believe the second batch was a little better. Whichever recipe, the process is identical with the exception of the priming method.

Jamaican Stout II

8 ½ lb 2-row Pale malt

10 oz 120L Crystal malt

1 lb 9 oz 60L Crystal malt

9 oz Chocolate malt

5 oz Black Patent malt

1 lb 2 oz Cinnamon Coconut Palm Sugar

16 oz Organic pineapple juice with pulp (end of boil)

16 oz Organic coconut juice with pulp (end of boil)

16 oz Organic pineapple juice with pulp (secondary)

16 oz Organic coconut juice with pulp (secondary)

2 oz Homegrown Brewers Gold hops (60 min)

1 ¼ oz Homegrown Brewers Gold hops (15 min)

1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 min)

1 Tb + 1 tsp Jamaican Jerk spices (5 min)

1 Habanero pepper (secondary)

UCCS 1338 European Ale yeast

Priming: 8 oz peeled sugar cane & ¾ cup Demerara sugar

I used an identical process for both batches.

Heat 3 gallons cold water to 170F strike temperature and mash in. Target temperature was 156F and I nailed it right on both times. Cover and let mash for 60 minutes. Raise temp to 170F mash out and lauter and sparge with 170F sparge water. Collect 7 gallons of wort.

Bring to boil and boil for 30 minutes before beginning hop additions at times indicated. Add the Palm Sugar and Whirlfloc in the final 15 minutes of the 90 minute boil and add the jerk spices in the final 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add pineapple and coconut juices. Cool and pour into fermenter with yeast. OG of the first batch was 1.056 and the second was 1.066.

The primary fermentation lasted one week for both batches before racking to secondary. Make the second juice addition at this time along with the habanero, quartered and seeded. Intermediate gravities were 1.018 and 1.025. The addition of the juices had no significant effect on the gravity.

Both batches were bottled after nine days in the secondary. This is where the processes differ. With the exception of eight 22 oz bombers, the entire first batch was primed using carb drops. These are candy drops which look very much like lemon drop candies and contain the precise amount of fermentable sugars to carbonate one bottle of most any beer using one drop for a 12 oz bottle and two drops for a 22 oz bomber. This produced a very consistent, perfect level of carbonation for each bottle. The remaining eight bottles I experimented with using raw sugar cane to condition the bottles. I was hoping for a bit of rum flavor from the cane. I peeled and quartered six inch pieces of the raw cane and placed in the bottles, approximately ½ to ¾ oz cane in each bottle. This produced under-carbonated bottles which before long developed into over-carbonated gushers and produced no rum flavor. I suspect the over-carbonation came from wild yeasts or bacteria in the cane. The FG was 1.016 for 5.2% ABV.

For the second batch I was still intrigued with the idea of using raw sugar cane but needed to come up with a different method. I cut an 8 oz piece of peeled sugar cane into narrow strips 4″ to 6″ long. Boil these in one liter water for 30 minutes, remove the cane and continue boiling until reduced to thick syrup, letting it caramelize a bit being careful not to let it burn. This produced about one tablespoon of thick brown syrup which hardened quickly. To this add ½ liter water and ¾ cup Demerara sugar, boil until fully dissolved, cool and add to beer in bottling bucket. FG was 1.020 for 6.1% ABV.

Both of these beers were excellent. They had the roasted quality of a stout with a nice fruitiness which tasted like neither pineapple nor coconut but would have been different without one or the other. The jerk spice produced a tantalizing aroma and, along with the habanero, a subtle but undeniable burn at the back of the palate. I believe the second batch was marginally better due to the increased body from the higher gravity and, of course, the ABV didn’t hurt either. The carbonation level was a bit higher as well, no gushers, but still no rum character from the cane. I may experiment with this method again using higher percentages of the cane syrup.

These were both remarkably complex beers which were loved by all who tried them. I pitched the possibility to Mike Bristol of making the Jamaican as a summer stout to replace the perennial winter favorite, Winter Warlock Oatmeal Stout. He thought that was a fun idea but just did not have the capacity right now, maybe later.

OK, that makes 99 brews; we have one remaining on our journey. You know number 100 just has to be an epic brew, right? I promise not to disappoint. I will be back with you soon with Brew #100. Until then, Keep on Brewin’…

To be continued…

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