I have made 4 or 5 Russian Imperial Stouts since I first began brewing in 1991. I have always used charred dark oak spirals that had been soaked in bourbon and added to the secondary fermenter for up to 3 months. Every batch has produced very drinkable and enjoyable stouts. The last batch was one that I ignored for several years, the last 22 ounce bombers were 6 years old when consumed at the beginning of 2023. the beer seemed to continue maturing to the “not bitter end”! The complexity of flavors never ceases to amaze me. The last bottle was shared with a handful of folks at DECA Beer Company, the head brewer Cody was loving the slight molasses aroma, obviously from the use of brown sugar to prime the beers.
Beer lesson……priming homebrewed beers that that are bottles. I batch prime my beers when I bottle rather than add sugar to each bottle….a lot less messy. If it is not and Imperial Stout, I use corn sugar to prime. How much sugar? Well that depends on the style and and amount of carbonation desired. There charts galore out on the web to help new brewers figure out how much sugar, and yes, you can use many different fermentable sugars. How do I batch prime. I will take two cups of water….microwave it until it is plenty hot, add in the measured amount of sugar and stir to dissolve. I then cover sugar water and let it cool before pouring it into the bottling bucket. As the beer siphons out of my fermenter into the bottling bucket it mixes uniformly and well….the residual yeast in the beer eats up the sugar, adding negligible alcohol but primarily creates the CO2 required for the beer.
Many beers once primed and bottled can be ready to drink 14-21 days later. My Imperial Stouts take a lot more time, not necessarily to ferment, but to properly age and mature. Months and months down the road and continues to mature actually for years.
I would love to pick up a 5 gallon bourbon barrel for my home use. They can be found…..pricey maybe, but I think I will bite the bullet and attempt to really, really, barrel age my next batch. I would like to think that the depth and complexity of the beers will be amazing to say the least. I found this great guide that will help me out in that endeavor as well as give y’all a look at how it is done….lots of good info in the article and resources too. Enjoy……
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