I've finally got around to brewing a stout and I'm rather pleased with it. The town where I'm from, Grays, was previously a brewing town. The Seabrooke family owned a brewery locally until around 1929 when Charringtons bought it. Around about the same time, the brewery was shut down and 180 people lost their jobs.
One of the Seabrooke's range was a stout. I have not done a massive amount of investigation into it, but I consulted Ron Pattinson who seems to be in the possession of all brewing records that exist. He was able to provide me with the original gravity of the Seabrooke Stout, from the Truman Gravity book (It is 1047.5 - this is a measure of the sugar content of the wort before it is fermented). Unfortunately, the recipe has been lost and only administrative records for the brewery exist. The nearest thing one can do to recreate this stout is to obtain this gravity. I'm not in a position to do that yet - one for a future day.
It should be noted that the water in Grays is hard and perfect for stout.
The stout that I'm drinking as I type is based on the Dry Stout recipe in Hughes. In my brewing method, I have started adding yeast nutrient to the boil to improve the fermentation and I tape the fermenter lids down tightly along with greasing all the seals. This seems to give a better fermentation and lets the air lock do what it is supposed to.
As with most beer, the pale malt makes up most of the grain bill together with some flaked barley, roasted barley and chocolate malt. The last two give the brew its black appearance.
The stout took a couple of days to ferment and barrelled up nicely with some heading liquid added. The liquid is supposed to aid with head retention in the glass. The brew was due to be ready next week, but we could not resist...
It's a very nice stout and not too dissimilar from a commercial Irish stout that you may have tried. I have already brewed a second version of this and I've upped the chocolate malt which I suspect will make it slightly rougher.
This one needs to be finished soon because the gasser on top of the barrel has decided to leak and I've had to replace it. There has been a bit of exposure to the air. The plastic pressure barrels I use are beginning to annoy me. Anyway, another brew done and I'm very pleased with it.