Cursing the Darkness


Last update 2020-05-15

Story of this Beer

“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” — Benjamin Franklin

I started reading a blog, Shut Up about Barclay Perkins. Ron Pattinson is a historian with a special passion for Scottish beers. In addition to his travel stories and his not inconsiderable research into the evolution of recipes and the brewing industry, he posts recipes for many of the beers he finds.

I had been dithering about what to make as my final beer for 2016. First I thought I might attempt my mild recipe again since it didn’t quite turn out. Then I thought I might get a jump on next year’s recipes by making my non-caffeinated porter ahead of my original schedule. Then I saw a post by Pattinson about a beer called DBS.

His historical posts are filled with all kinds of odd beer or style names as was common to a certain vintage of British beers–AK, XX, XA, etc. Turns out DBS may have stood for double brown stout, part of yet a bit apart from the tradition of Scottish sweet stouts. I loved the idea of adding another Scottish ale into my brewing schedule. I retired my oatmeal stout to make room for new recipes. I traditionally ended my year of brewing with that stout so it felt sort of symmetric to try a new stout recipe at this same point in the year.

I don’t expect this to be an especially dark beer given the lack of black malt but I like the Franklin quote regardless. I often think about how we make excuses for our selves in the colder months to push back the longer nights with lights, candles or otherwise. The quote has seasonal, rational and aesthetic resonance for me that just seems to fit this beer.

Recipe and Log

  • Pattinson’s post, including the recipe, for the William Younger DBS is here. I brewed this beer 2016-12-17, as a solo brew day due to the proximity to the holiday. I enjoy solo brew days to better focus on recipe and craft. I was unsure about the caramel mentioned in the recipe. I ended up using some black treacle. I think the beer turned out quite well. It had a strong roast flavor early on that was almost smoky. That thankfully mellowed fairly quickly though left a noticeable roast note in the finished beer. The sweetness was not cloying but noitceable. The Bramling Cross brought a wonderful fruitiness that filled in the middle of the palate between the roast and the lactose.
  • I brewed this beer again in 2017 to the exact same recipe.
  • I brewed this beer again in 2018 to the exact same recipe.
  • For the 2019 batch, I ran out of Bramling Cross in pellet form and did not have enough time to find more. I substituted Belma in the kettle and dry hop. I was still able to use Bramling Cross in my hop jacket. I think the Belma was a good substitution, adding a subtly different fruitiness from the Bramling Cross. I may stick with this substitution permanently as Belma is much easier to source.


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