Archive for the ‘Imperial Stout’ Category

Black Squirrel Braggot

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Braggot, Imperial Stout

Black Squirrel Braggot
2.50 lbs Maris Otter
0.90 lbs Brown Malt
0.60 lbs Caramel 120L
0.50 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.50 lbs Wheat Malt (for head retention)
0.45 lbs Roasted Barley
0.45 lbs Victory Malt
0.30 lbs Black (Patent) Malt
1.00 oz Centennial 10.0% (90 min)
0.40 oz Williamette 4.8% (30 min)
0.40 oz Williamette 4.8% (15 min)
0.75 oz Williamette 4.8% (Dry Hop 14 Days) after Honey Fermentation
*5lbs Raw Buckwheat Honey
Safale US-05 (2 Packets: 1 in Primary, 1 in Secondary when Honey added) – Pitched @68ºF
1 tsp Wyeast Beer Yeast Nutrient

*Honey will be added to secondary fermenter with just enough pre-sterilized water to dissolve it (I’ve read this can be 5-6 ounces per pound of honey).  I’m shooting for an OG around 1.110 so, depending on how much wort I’m left with after boiling/primary trub loss, I might either add less than 5lbs of honey or dilute with just a little bit of water. The buckwheat honey should give this braggot a nice caramel/molasses taste to it that should complement the flavor profile of an imperial stout well.  I don’t want to ruin any possible aroma or flavor from the honey by adding it to the boil, at flameout, or having some of it fermented off in the primary, hence why I’m going to add it to the secondary.

Target OG (just grains) = 1.055 (assuming 75% efficiency)
OG (just grains) = 1.055 (3.15 gallons collected – 79.5% efficiency)
FG (just grains) = 1.022
OG (with honey) = 1.068
OG Total (honey + malt) = 1.101
FG (after honey) = ?
IBU = 86.3
ABV = ?
SRM = >59.4 (buckwheat honey is darker and I don’t have a color value for it)

Mash @152ºF for 90 mins with 1.25qts/lb.  Mash out with 4.34 qts of water.  Sparge with 2.42 gallons.  Aging this bad boy at least half a year.

01/31/11 – Mashed in @153ºF.  After 90 minutes the temperature had dropped to 145ºF.  Apparently when you only mash in 1.25qts/lb and it’s 22ºF out (a little warmer in the garage), the temp of your mash tun won’t hold as well as it does during the summer.  It was probably in conversion range for at least one hour.  I’m just hoping that too much conversion didn’t take place and I’ll end up with way too low of a final gravity for an imperial stout.  Luckily, since this is a braggot, half or more of the fermentables are coming from the honey I’ll be adding later, so the higher attenuated ale half probably won’t have as big of an effect on the final product as if it were a straight up imperial stout.  I placed the fermenter in my room as the Belgian I have in secondary in the basement is at 58ºF, thus, way to cold to primary down there.

02/07/11 – Let me just say, buckwheat honey smells like a god damned farm.  It reeks of hay/animals.  It is not typically used as a main base for anything.  It is supposed to be a wonderful addition to darker, roasty ales and is supposed to lend a wonderful caramel, molasses character to the final product.  The barnyard smell kind of disappeared once it was mixed with the Imperial Stout portion of the braggot, and I’m assuming some of this will disappear as it ferments off and ages a little bit and melds with the malt character of the beer.

Racked to secondary today onto 5 lbs of honey.  Honey was prepared by boiling one quart of water and letting it cool to room temp.  I rehydrated one packet of US-05 in this water.  I then proceeded to mix the honey into the water.  This was slow going at first, but mixed well in end.  Poured honey/water/yeast mixture into secondary and racked on top of it.  My total FG came out just a little lower than I initially thought, but this is because I have more volume than I initially thought.  With honey it’s still at 1.101, which means I’ll still have a nice strong Imperial Stout/Braggot.

The base Stout tasted amazingly like coffee.  Flavors were intense and strong, but that’s because half of the sugar base was missing as the honey wasn’t added yet.  It was almost grainy, a little espresso like, pleasantly roasty, and slightly acidic due to the amount of roast malts vs pale malt.  I’m assuming the acidity will drop as the honey ferments and turn this into a wonderful brew.

I decided that I’m going to rack one gallon of the final product onto .2 ounces of French oak chips and let that sit for 1-4 weeks based on taste.  Over on, Yooper recommended 1 oz of oak chips per 5 gallons and to check it starting at 1 week and so on.  She said it was best to wait until it’s just right in taste, and then let it get a little bit more intense and over the edge.  Since the beer will be aging long, the oak flavor will mellow with it and hopefully be at your preferred level come drinking time.  I’m tempted to rack another gallon onto vanilla bean, but I’ll make a final decision on that in the future depending on how much I end up with in secondary/tertiary fermenter (whatever you want to call it).

03/03/11 – Just a little barnyard still there, but all the goat is gone.  Finished very low at 1.016…and who’s to say it won’t drop a couple more points over the next month or two.  Aroma is all buckwheat honey (though this hasn’t been dry hopped yet).  Honey gives this a nice mouthfeel.  Nice strong molasses taste against a nice burnt, roasty background.  Alcohol is warming but not solventy at all.  Slight sweetness accompanies the whole thing.

03/27/11 – Transferred to two secondaries (2.75 gallon and 1 gallon).  Dry hopped each .2 oz in the 1 gallon and .6oz in the 3 gallon.  I added my heavily oaked Bourbon that I started over a month ago to the 1 gallon secondary (did not add chips).

04/10/11 – 1 gallon tasted awesome with oaked bourbon.  I decided to blend this back in with the rest of the beer.  To this I added bourbon that had oak chips soaking in it from way back in like September or something (from my cider that I never used it for).  I then added these oak chips plus the oak chips from the 1 gallon of bourbon.  The bourbon gives it a sweeter flavor even though I did not add much.  When it’s “oaky” enough, I’m going to rack it into another container with some champagne yeast a few days before bottling and then bottle it up.  Flavor is really coming into it’s own.

04/13/11 – Racked it to another container.  Oak was coming through strong as it had sat soaking in the bourbon for a long time.  The oak adds some nice complexity and pleasant astringency to counter the roasted malts and honey.  Hopefully gonna bottle this up this weekend and let it sit for a long time.

04/20/11 – Bottled @2 volumes CO2.


Rootin’ Tootin’ Rasputin (Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout Clone)
13.0lbs Pale Malt (2 Row)
1.50lbs Brown Malt
0.75lbs Caramel 120L
0.63lbs Chocolate Malt
0.63lbs Roasted Barley
0.50lbs Victory Malt
0.38lbs Black (Patent) Malt
1.50 oz Cluster 6.9% (105 min)
1.00 oz Centennial 6.0% (105 min)
1.00 oz Norther Brewer 9.8% (30 min)
1.50 oz Liberty 3.5% (30 min)
1 tsp Irish Moss (10 min)
1.00 oz Liberty 3.5% (Dry Hop 2 weeks)
Wyeast 1272 – American Ale II
Red Star Champagne Yeast (Bottling)
120 min boil
Mash at 152ºC
14 Days Primary (might be longer because of “possible” stuck fermentation)
28 Days Secondary
Bottle Aging 120 Days (55-60ºF)

Target OG = 1.091
Target FG = 1.022
OG = 1.093
FG = 1.026
IBU = 88.2
ABV = 8.8%

05/23/10 – I spent a whopping 9.5 hours brewing this monster of a beer on the hottest day of the year so far.  It was a big undertaking for my second all grain batch, but had much success in brewing.  I got 76% efficiency on this batch compared to my last batch of a measly 65% efficiency.  Seeing how much of a beast of a beer this was, I’m very happy with the 76%.  It could have been just a little higher if I had a bigger pot, but after hitting 8.5 gallons pre-boil and taking a gravity reading, I decided to not push my pot’s limits.  (Plus I had to spend an extra 1.5-2 hours boiling the excess off before my already long 2 hour boil).

But, seeing this was my second all grain experience, I am still learning a couple things.  One, I will now always bring my strike water to 5-10ºF higher than beersmith tells me.  I say this because I was short of my mash temp by 5 degrees and had to add a gallon of boiling water to compensate which threw off my other measurements.  I add my grain after adding my strike water to my mash tun.  It is always easier to cool down 5ºF or so by stirring or adding an ice cube or two than it is to heat up water again real quick to hit your mash temp.

Secondly, I pitched my yeast without a starter.  This is a big no no for such a high gravity beer.  It is something that I realized, but failed to comprehend the effects of not using a starter on a high gravity beer.  I have not seen blow-off tube activity after 24 hours, but a nice krausen has formed since I left for work this morning.  I read it can take 3-4 days for airlock activity to happen on such a high gravity beer.  I’m not worried about rogue organisms moving in because of the lack of using a starter.  I’m concerned about getting a stuck fermentation from having a smaller population of yeast that might get pooped out halfway through fermentation.

So, after doing some reading last night, I read that racking your beer onto a fresh yeast cake is almost a foolproof way of jump starting a stuck fermentation.  I know I don’t have a stuck fermentation yet, but in preperation for such an event, I have ordered ingredients to make a Malt Cider on Memorial Day using Safale S-05 Yeast.  I’m going to primary it for 2 weeks, so if my Rasputin gets stuck, then I’m going to rack on top of it and let the Safale do its job.  The best part of this is that, whatever happens, I’m going to end up with about 25 bottles of really tasty slightly malted, slightly hopped hard cider.

Ok, that’s enough updating for now.  Here’s a couple pictures of my Rasputin Clone in my sexy new carboy and a shot of the beginning krausen.

06/06/10 – Took a gravity reading today at 1.030.  I’m going to check it again in a week when I bottle my Graff and rack it onto the yeast cake if it’s not in the 1.020 range and give it another week after that.  It has an excellent flavor (and it hasn’t even been dry hopped yet), very rich, very coffee like, bitterness is just perfect.  It has a slight residual sweetness because there are still some unfermented sugars present but an overall great taste.

06/11/10 – Still 1.030.  I bottled my Graff tonight and racked it on top of the Graff yeast cake.  I was hearing a little air leaking from the carboy cap so I’m guessing fermentation may have started again.  I’ll check it in a week and hopefully transfer it to secondary then.

06/20/10 – Gravity dropped 4 points to 1.026.  I went ahead and transferred to a secondary today as I don’t think I can muscle the gravity any lower (at an 8.8% ABV right now).  Going to secondary 2 weeks and then dry hop for 2 weeks after that for a total of 4 weeks in the secondary.

07/04/10 – Dry hopped with 1 oz of Liberty at 3.5%AA

07/16/10 – Bottled tonight and ended up with 46 bottles.  Intense coffee aroma.  Amazing coffee, intense roasted malt tastes.  It’s black as night and is so amazing at bottling (2 months after making it) that I can’t wait to see what it will be like in mid-November when it’s “done” aging.  I may have to sneak into this one a little earlier.

08/01/10 – Ok so I’m not supposed to open this until November or so, but after tasting my 3 week old Barleywine I couldn’t wait and opened one.  It’s not carbonated enough yet but that will fix itself in time.  First of all it is black as night.  When held up to the light and tilted in the glass it exhibits black/ruby hues (if that’s at all possible).  It smells of honey and coffee.  It has a sweet malty backbone that almost has a nutlike character to it.  Tastes of roasted malts, coffee, and burnt toast mingle together on the palate.  Even at only being 9 weeks old since I’ve brewed this one, the hops character is not overwhelming in the least.  It is bitter in the way a good cup of Starbucks is bitter (if that’s you’re thing).  The 8.8% alcohol by volume does not overwhelm and is hidden upon initial taste.  After swallowing it leaves a nice warming sensation down the esophagus, similar to the effect you get after drinking a nice scotch, but it’s not overbearing in any way.  I picture myself drinking one of these after the first snow has fallen to warm me up (sounds cheesy but that’s what pops in my head).

09/19/10 – I moved this upstairs for 8 days to let it carb a little and it made a total difference.  I poured myself a glass and it had the perfect carbonation.  It’s almost a little too sweet but has excellent coffee/burnt/roasted tones to it.  Next time I will ferment at a higher temp to ensure the yeast keep operating until it is completely finished.  It is currently still aging in my basement where it will be until it is all gone.  Here’s a much better pic of it in my new stout mug.