Well, it’s that time of the year. Guinness branding day… I mean St-Patrick’s day. Which I am OK with since Guinness is an unoffensive stout. And thanks to marketing when you think of St-Patrick’s day you think of drinking a Guinness, which is also OK because you can’t make it green. Guinness is also great to cook with. I have a great Guinness BBQ sauce that works with anything you throw it at. Stouts also work very well with chocolate, although I would never recommend you cook with a bottle of Dieu du Ciel’s Aphrodisiaque, I wouldn’t mind you throwing in a couple of Guinness into a recipe.
That being said, here’s a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
1 (12-ounce) bottle Guinness Stout
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Scharffen Berger Cocoa)
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet Guinness mixture.
4. Butter 24 muffin tins and divide the batter among the muffin tins.
5. Bake 25 minutes, until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out of the tins.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
1 stick salted butter – room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon Clear Vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar, 10x)
4 tablespoons very cold milk
Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the clear vanilla extract and combine well. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold milk… one tablespoon at a time, combining very well after each addition (mixer on medium-high to high speed) until you reach the desired consistency.
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Now that I have spent most of yesterday researching and thinking about maple syrup, it’s time to formulate a recipe. I won’t lie to you, I’m not an expert in brewing beer or crafting recipes yet. I am still an extract brewer. I just know what I like and what I want to try and make. With that, I will go online and look for a recipe to base my experiment on. Then I will tweak and add to it as I see fit to create the beer I want.
In this case I had the idea of a Maple Cream Ale. So I looked at how-to’s and recipes for cream ale. The essentials to a typical cream ale are using corn adjuncts and the type of yeast (and the temperature it ferments at). Normally you would use a lager yeast at higher temperatures at around 20°C but some strains of ale yeast fermented at around the same temperature will work.
How will a cream ale work with maple syrup anyway? Most of the cream ales I’ve tried were mild in flavour, light in colour and a bit bitter. I want the creamy mouth feel but this beer won’t taste like a traditional cream ale. It needs to be a bit sweet and because of the maple it will be a lot darker. So I searched the homebrewtalk forums for a hybrid cream ale recipe and I found an extract Caramel Cream Ale recipe. Reading the comments for the recipe, it sounded like this is a sweet beer, which is perfect to compliment the maple flavours. But a bit of tweaking will be needed.
When maple is boiled and fermented, the yeast will eat the sugars in the syrup leaving a dry wood flavour. It is distinctly maple but without the instinctive sweet taste. The Caramel/Crystal malt and a hint of vanilla will add back a bit of the sweetness expected with maple syrup. Adding lactose, which is an unfermentable sugar, will also add sweetness and a nice smooth body to the beer. I just need to make sure that the beer ends up balanced. The last thing I want is a sweet candy beer. I will probably add more hops and dial back the vanilla and lactose. And of course, add maple syrup.
There are a lot of recipe applications out there. I use BrewTarger simply because it is free. It works well in organizing ingredients and calculating expected values. It will also print out a nice recipe and brew day sheet. There are other applications out there like BeerTools but I do not have any experience with them.
Now I use BrewTarget to add my ingredients, tweak it a bit and then I’ll make sure my local home brew store carries what I need. My tentative recipe looks something like this:
Maple Cream Ale
3lbs Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
3lbs Light Wheat Dry Malt Extract
1lbs Crystal Malt (steeped at 150°F – 165°F)
25g Cascade Pellets (60 minutes)
25g Saaz (20 minutes)
25g Tettnanger (10 minutes)
4oz (liquid oz) Lactose (15 minutes)
1tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)
? Vanilla Extract
? Maple Syrup
As you can see I am not sure when to add the maple and how much I will need. I will have to keep thinking about those amounts and will probably only decide on brew day.
The recipe also calls for 1 cup lactose, vanilla and dry malt extract at priming. I will decide that when I taste the beer at that time and judge if it needs more sweetness/vanilla flavour. Also, I will just use dextrose for priming. It is easier to prime with and from what I understand there is no difference in taste. DME is a bit more unpredictable when priming.
Next step is looking at my equipment and buying the ingredients.