Monday, October 29, 2012

Behind the Beers: Chai Milk Stout

The Chai Milk Stout is our 2nd best selling beer in the winter months.  Something about coming in from the cold, sitting in a warm pub and drinking a stout with tea-like spices in it that is comforting.

This was another recipe that was started by Chris Kennedy.  The Yak & Yeti has a house-made blend of chai spices for our Chai Tea that we sell.  You can get the tea hot or cold, but most prefer it hot.   Chai Tea traditionally is served with a little milk or cream, and so the idea for Chai Milk Stout was born.  There aren’t too many beers that use lactose (milk sugar) as far as ingredients, but the Milk Stout or Sweet Stout (as some call it) does contain lactose.   So, in our opinion, the absolutely best style of beer to put chai spices in is a milk stout.   At the GABF this year we saw a Chai Wheat and Chai Amber beer, but they didn’t compare to the well-matched Chai Milk Stout.

A quick side explanation of Sweet Stout.  What makes it sweet?  Adding more sugar?  Contrary to common sense, the more sugar one adds to the beer, the LESS sweet it will become.  The reason is that yeast loves sugar. It is it’s primary source of food.   The food is converted to mainly CO2 and alcohol.  So add more sugar and it gets consumed and turned into more alcohol, not sweetness.  Lactose (or milk sugar) is special in the fact that normal brewer’s yeast cannot metabolize it.  So instead of turning it into alcohol, it leaves it behind, leaving the beer slightly sweeter than other styles of beer, (example would be its close sibling Dry Stout).

One question that is most asked is how we get the spices into the beer.  The spice blend and the process are one of our trade-secrets, but I can tell you that it isn’t added in the boil, but rather in secondary to retain all the great spice flavors.  The recipe hasn’t changed much but I did add some oats to give the beer a larger foam head, as it was always collapsing before.  We also started getting better efficiency with the mash tun, so I scaled it back so that I wasn’t wasting so much grain.

At the GABF this year we poured this beer and it was probably the most popular of our beers.  People would come up to the booth after hearing recommendations from their friends “Do you still have the Chai Stout?,” they would ask.  Indeed we do.

If you haven’t had a pint for awhile, check it out and maybe you’ll appreciate the beer a little more knowing what’s Behind the Beer.


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