Culinary Pen
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Licorice Stout

Written By Culinary Pen on Friday, May 11, 2012 | 5:12:00 AM

I love the taste of black licorice.  It's become something of an acquired taste over my life, but now I think it's one of my favorites.  When I was in college I bought my mom a wedge of blue Stilton from the local cheese shop for her birthday one year.  I'd never had a blue cheese as strong and pungent, and decried that it "tastes like old people."  My mother thought this was a funny, albeit odd, description, but it didn't stop her from relishing the cheese.  "One day," she told me, "you'll crave things like this."
 That's how licorice is for me.  I don't remember ever disliking black jellybeans as a kid, but they certainly weren't my favorite.  Then I began to pick them all out, saving them to eat last, as I knew their strong, distinct flavor would mask the taste of any other color.  Now I don't even bother with jelly beans, looking for strong, black licorice whenever I can. Today, I love any and all licorice I can get my hands on.  From hard Dutch black licorice that takes forever to eat (due to a high level of gum arabic) to the Scandinavian varieties dusted with ammonium chloride salt (which immediately opens your sinuses, dating back to when licorice candy was used by apothecaries for treating colds).

So this licorice stout was a natural progression for me.  I brewed a basic stout, but used a good amount of roasted wheat for head retention and roasted rye for the interesting, full flavor it lends.  In the last five minutes I added a few splintered sticks of licorice root, then left them in the primary fermenting bucket to continue to infuse.

When it finishes fermenting, it should be at a modest 6%~ ABV, so it should be ready to bottle in just a few weeks.  In hopes of making a stout other people will enjoy drinking, I didn't go overboard on the licorice root, but I'm still hoping to get some of that sweet, beguiling flavor in each sip.

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