Three years ago, for our Unafraid of the Dark III beer series, we brewed a deliciously indulgent beer called Salted Caramel Milk Stout. It was one of our favorite beers that we made that year. So, when we came to thinking about which beers to brew this year for Unafraid of the Dark VI, it was a no-brainer to bring the Salted Caramel back.
Typically, it’s pretty easy for us to make the same beer taste the same way batch to batch. In this case, there was a slight wrinkle – we needed to scale the original recipe up from our old 3-barrel system to our current 15-barrel system. We tweaked the grain bill just a touch, and added the same adjuncts as before – lactose (an un-fermentable sugar that keeps some residual sweetness in the beer, and is also the key ingredient in making a beer a milk stout), sea salt from Maine, and caramel. The result? Caramel Macchiato! 🙂 Not exactly what we were shooting for, but the results are, we think, just as pleasurable! The biggest differences in this batch are 1- the malt we used this year has much more of a prominent coffee flavor and aroma, and 2- the caramel in this batch is more of a burnt caramel.
So what can you expect when you try this beer for the first time? A slight caramel aroma with roasty undertones, a smooth, salty start that turns into big coffee and burnt caramel notes, and a slightly sweet finish. Starbucks watch out – this, to us, is the ultimate caramel macchiato!
How did we make the beer? Well, first, we started with our core milk stout recipe– this is a base recipe we have used in the past for beers like Red Rover Coffee Milk Stout. As mentioned above, a milk stout is made using lactose (which would be good to tell your vegan friends or lactose-intolerent friends before pouring them a pint!). We added the Maine Sea Salt to the kettle along with the burnt caramel that Co-Founder / Head Brewer Annette made here in our kitchen.
Here are our team’s tasting notes:
– Appearance: This beer in black in color with a good sized, burnt caramel-colored head.
– Aroma: When the beer is served cold right from the tap, you’ll get a light, caramel sweet aroma with roasty undertones. As the beer warms up, the caramel comes out a lot more.
– Taste & Mouthfeel: Take a sip and you should first get some salty sweetness that then turns into big coffee notes with a lingering burnt caramel roastiness. Although this is a milk stout, which tends to run sweet, this beer is just sweet enough. As far as body goes, it is on the lighter side for a stout, but it would be more accurately classified as medium-bodied beer.
– Pairing: First pairing thoughts that come to mind are all desserts — chocolate cake, coffee cake, s’mores. Pop a scoop of ice cream in the glass, as it would also make a lovely beer float! For more savory options, we are going to pair this beer with one of our favorites cheeses here at the brewery – Timberdoodle, which is soft, creamy taleggio-style cheese from VT. In addition, we also tried this beer with the pretzel on the menu here- delicious!
– Serving glass: At the brewery, we will be serving this beer in a pub glass, although it would be just as nice served in a tulip glass. NOTE- As we recommended with the Oh Snap! Ginger Molasses Porter, let this beer warm up a bit before drinking it. As it warms, the caramel becomes more prominent in both flavor and aroma.
– Stats: ABV is 5.3% and IBU is 31.
Caramel Macchiato will be available starting Wednesday, March 22nd.