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……
I have this beer on tap in my kegerator now and everyday that I walk into the garage it whispers to me……”Bishop, come closer and grab a frozen mug! Pour a pint and enjoy it!” It takes all of my willpower to resist…..not that I have a lot of willpower when it comes to very good beer……Yes, I am patting myself on the back. So, on or around February 8th or so….It really isn’t a memory problem, it is about me not adding the proper notes to my brew sheet!
I did make a note that original specific gravity was 1.061, alas no date. Yeast was pitched on 1/22/23, WLP001 California Ale yeast. Pat myself on the back for that. I will now have to trust my memory on the next important part, final specific gravity, my memory has it at 1.012, which calculates out to about 6.4% ABV……several tastings of multiple pints seems to confirm the ABV….LOL. My previous blog post pegs the transfer to the secondary fermenter on January 29, 2023……So kegging was around February 7-8. First photo of a pint+ sized was February 11th……so…… relatively close on my time line….I will add those notes to the brew sheet and ask for your support and not calling me a liar.
Tasting, although my good buddy John does stoke (wasn’t sure if I wanted to use the word stroke here so I opted for stoke so as to not hear some of your giggles) my ego once in awhile, he pronounced this beer in the top 3 or so of my beers brewed…..he has liked a lot of my previous beers so I will accept his compliment. It was slightly over carbonated, but after relocating my CO2 bottle outside of the kegerator the low pressure gauge seems to respond better and hold the set pressures better. It now pours with a beautiful head!!!!!!
Now on to bigger and better things……a very big beer that nearly overwhelmed the capacity of my Grainfather System. I is rated at 20 pounds of grain and I managed 20.5 pounds……so, it was a struggle. It is a Russian Imperial Stout with dark toasted oak spirals soaked in good bourbon. The beer is in the secondary now, this will allow the spirals to sit for 8 weeks and impart magical flavors and mellowness to the beer and then bottle it in 22 ounce bombers. I am not kegging this beer. It looks like it will be between 10% and 11% ABV. The story on this beer soon!!!!!!!
Brewed this beer January 22nd 2023, after a fairly long break from brewing….The Avery Clone IPA was the last beer I brewed and kegged. If you read my last post you know that it disappeared too quickly. I have brewed a Mosaic SMaSH IPA several times in the past and decided to go with Simcoe hops for this SMaSH…..I love the aroma and the flavors come through very nicely….
A little about Simcoe Hops from Yakima Valley Hops web site;
“At 12%-14% Alpha Acid, Simcoe® has great bittering qualities, but also packs a complex aroma of stone fruit, pine, and citrus zest. It truly is a dual purpose hop that is capable of standing on its own in single-hopped beers in a wide range of styles.”
When I pulled the sample to determine the original gravity, 1.064 to be exact, I dipped my nose in for a whiff and by golly Yakima was right! Secondly the flavor was very, very pleasant a little sweet but to be expected as unfermented wort should be sweet. As the sugars in the wort are devoured by the “yeasties” the sweetness disappears and the magic of conversion to beer happens. I have very high hopes for this beer.
Brew day did not go as smooth as I would have liked…..I have a 110 Volt Grainfather G30 system. Overall I love it but……brew day was pretty damned cold for Houston and the wind was stiff. I brew outside because my wife does not like the smell of boiling wort in the house, I think it is rather pleasant but….I make some sacrifices to maintain harmony in the house. The mash went very smooth, the equipment held the 165 degree F mash temp perfectly. The system’s pump worked perfectly for the Vorlauf process. During Vorlauf and sparging I ran the set temperature up to 212 degrees F. One drawback of the 110 Volt system is the slower heating rates as compared to the 220 Volt systems.
I use my propane burner to heat the sparge water, 170 degrees F was the recommended tempearture. I was patient and sparged at a rate to rinse as much sugar out of the grain bed as was expected. As I was sparging the temperature was coming up very slowly…….too slowly. I pulled out my electric paint stripping gun and plugged it into a separate circuit in order to not to blow a fuse. It helped, I ran it on high setting on the lower sides of the pot….and slowly the pot came up to a good rolling boil. Added 0.5 ounces of Simcoe for 60 minutes. Next addition of Simcoe was 1.0 ounce at the 15 minute remaining mark and 1.5 ounces at the 5 minute remaining mark. Added ½ of a whirlfloc tablet at that same time in order to help precipitate haze-causing proteins and beta glucans resulting in a clearer wort.
Then a set back and change of process now that the beer had boiled for the required 60 minutes. I attached my counter flow chiller and attempted to pump hot wort through the coils and back into the pot to sanitize the coil. The pump had worked perfectly when I ran it to Vorlauf but for some reason the pump would not move any fluid…..I was at a standstill …… I disconnected the fittings to see if there was clog and I could not see a problem. Started and stopped the pump multiple times……no dice. I could hear it sounding like it was running but no output……I need to get the wort cooled and into my fermenting bucket.
Plan B now. The wort is at a specific gravity of 1.064 X 8.345 pounds of water per gallon X 6 gallons equals about 53.27 pound of liquid plus the weight of the pot. I had to now lift this hot and awkward mess up onto platform of some sort in order to make plan B work……siphon the wort into my fermenting bucket. I did utter some strong words, tested my 71 year old back and pain tolerance to hot surfaces, but did manage to gain the necessary height to allow the siphon to work. I pumped very hot wort through the siphon hose and equipment and back into the wort to sanitize it all……then successfully filled the fermenting bucket.
Got it all situated and placed in a 66-68 degree location to best allow the yeast to do it’s work. Took a couple of Tylenol as a preventative for potential back pain and waited overnight to add the yeast. I usually like to cool the wort much more quickly and add the yeast once it is all down below 80 degrees F. Yeast was added this morning and by this evening there was good indication of bubbles and active fermentation. Now, one of my challenges is being patient to allow nature to do its work.
Next step will be transferring to a secondary fermenter and adding 1.5 ounces of Simcoe hops for dry hopping. After 7 days I will cold crash it to 34-35 degrees and transfer to a keg. Then carbonate, be patient again and then enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Lesson learned and a discovery. The wort was at boiling temperature when I turned the pump on and with a little research the pump suction creates a lowered pressure and likely vapor locked the pump. Lesson learned ….be patient……turn the heat off, wait a bit then turn on the pump. During cleanup there was a bit of brew trash in the discharge check valve but probably not enough to stop flow. Note to self……understand my sometimes lack of patience and chill old man!!!!!!
SMaSH – a beer brewed with a single malt and a single hop……in this case Golden Promise Malt and Simcoe hops…..Yum
I apologize a bit to a beekeeping acquaintance of mine here in Texas as he has named his business “At it Again Apiaries”…….so, I just appropriated a portion of the name. That said, it has both been too long since I last brewed and also too long since I last posted. Up date, I have an Avery IPA clone sitting in the secondary, dry hopped and I started the cold crash yesterday before kegging tomorrow. The gravity targets from the recipe were hit dead on. It was 1.056 for the starting gravity and 1.012 for the ending gravity…….sample tasted wonderful.
Sadly my local beer supply store closed a few months ago and I have resorted to online ordering. The online experience has been hit or miss. I have tried Austin Homebrew Supply and Northern Brewer. The excuses revolve around labor shortages and supply chain issues……I am more concerned about having room in my kegerator for two more beers so, I am learning to be more patient. Tomorrow I should be carbonating the Avery clone but the next beer, or should I say planned beer is a SMaSH with Golden Promise grain and Simcoe hops…….dangit…..may not get it started until sometime next week. That is if the remaining ingredients show up.
I hate to say it but part of the delay is my fault. The grain bill calls for 12 pounds of Golden Promise, in the drop down box I apparently did not click hard enough on 12 and they order went out as 1 pound. I did have a second chance to review my order at checkout, but guess what, senior moment, and I did not correct my mistake. So I have compounded the delivery issues……nuff said and you can stop giggling any time you want!
The Avery clone was an all grain kit from Austin Homebrew Supply…..they did a decent job getting the supplies here on a reasonable amount of time. A browse through the products section does highlight notable amounts of “out of stock” tags but over all not too bad. I did resort to going to the “Grainfather” site for parts I needed before brewing the Avery clone. The connections on the inlet to the pump and discharge side of the pump had gone bad. Fortunately the discharge tube leaked badly as I was cleaning and prepping and not during the brewing process, averting a catastrophic event!. It delayed the Avery IPA clone by about a week.
I will promise to update all y’all in a timely matter once in the keg and properly carbonated….and wish I could share some with y’all – you will just have to rely on my words and your imagination. Trust me…
I have been in trouble since the moment I began sharing my wife’s Honey Blonde Ale, close to a year now! Really not hers but, I made it using some of the dark honey we harvested last year. She liked the honey so well that she took 6 pounds of the dark amber sweetness and hid it from the sales batches. I have been given very direct instructions for this batch……I am not allowed to give any of this beer away! I need to have my daughter Lisa share in some of the blame. She took a 6 pack to one of her trail races and addicted a couple of her friends. They were rewarded a couple of times.
This beer is an all grain brew, currently in the primary fermenter and probably ready to rack over to the secondary. The brew process, a 90 minute boil, went very smooth. The starting gravity came out dead on to the expected number. The sample pulled for the gravity test, tasted pretty damned awesome.
Details from the Beersmith Software. Whenever I read to sparge volumes I think – That can’t be right….to much water. At he end of the 90 minute boil it was a nearly perfect 5 gallons.
I will Bottle in another 7 days and should make my wife happy by mid August. Let me take that back, I always make her happy, she will be “happier” when this beer is ready and happiest if I don’t share any……she can make that choice!
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly,
PS: My son Joe sent a text message as I was writing this post from Ranger Creek Brewery and Distillery, San Antonio TX. Another one to add to my list.
I racked the Honey Blonde from the primary to the secondary fermenter this morning. I was a few days tardy but it should not hurt the final product. I hope to bottle over the weekend and sit back and enjoy a cold one on or around October 17/18.
The hydrometer reading indicates that fermentation is complete so I will let the beer clear up in the glass carboy secondary for a few days, chill, then bottle. ABV calculates at 5.64%. Not an all day session beer but very nice. I drank the sample I pulled – can’t let it go to waste!
Color is nice – like a light honey color…. Go figure. Yes, a bit of sweetness in the flavor and a pleasant after taste.
From left to right, my honey in a squeeze bear, a bit of the extra sample I pulled and the hydrometer sample back right. The honey color is definitely evident. The beer should clear up nicely in the next few days….. I will keep all y’all updated.
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly
The girl code named, “Madison the Mad Brewer”, also makes hand crushed, foot stomped wine….trust me, I saw the grape stained fingers in person and photos of her grape stained feet. She is an energetic young lady with what appears to be boundless energy and curiosity. The purpose of my visit with her last week was to provide a mini-lesson on the use of vintage, manual 35mm cameras. Many old cameras from that era required mercury batteries that are now longer available. The replacement batteries and the electronics of the old camera leave many users without a through the lens means to meter accurately. Madison has a hand held meter that she, like me, found the user literature to be less than clear. We decided to make it a learning opportunity.
We loaded up an old Asahi Pentax Spotmatic 35 mm camera, with a dead meter, with Kodak Tri-Xand headed to the back yard. We used the hand held meter to understand measuring incident and reflected light, depth of field, metering for contrast and other thoughts. She is a very curious photographer and a quick student! We also discussed night and star shots that led to a discussion on the “B” bulb setting on the shutter speed dial. She is a quick student and I think I/we will see more creative efforts from her soon.
Let’s Talk Beer
In February she promised me one of her brown ales, “Squatch Drool”. As I type, and watch Atlanta kick the crud of of the Houston Texans, I am seeking solace in her offering. As I was about to leave after the camera lesson she remembered the promise and handed me the last bottle from the December 2014 batch. Yes, the girl can brew! You can honestly see it in her eyes! I suppose Squatch drool was modeled after Moose Drool by Big Shy Brewing Company, Missoula Montana. I give her interpretation high marks and it drinks “cleaner” on my palate than Moose Drool.
The eyes of a mad brewer, a fledgling vintner and a Mt. Whitney summiteer! I have heard rumors of fireworks daredevil but can’t confirm!
Squatch Drool….Very, very good Brown Ale!
Brew Date and Beer Description – Ages well!
Nice – pours a good head and a bit of lace….very satisfying. Thanks Madison!
Today is brew day! I made the switch to All-Grain brewing almost two years ago. It takes time! On top of that this recipe calls for a 90 minute boil!
To pass the time I made some labels for my Session IPA. The bulk of that batch went into my 6 Liter mini kegs from Tap-a-Draft. 12 liters kegged and about 16 bottles. Labeling is a good thing because I sometimes discover an orphan in the back of the fridge and have to drink it to find out it’s lineage. Oh Darn!
Session IPA – Ready and waiting on thirsty lads.
Over ninety degrees F in my outdoor brewhaus- proper attire, sandals, shorts and a t-shirt!
Killing two birds with one shirt….. Thanks Hun!
Just I case you are interested;
4 pounds of domestic Pilsner malt
3 pounds of domestic two- row malt
2 pounds of domestic white wheat malt
0.5 pounds of Canadian Honey malt
1 pound of honey from my backyard at flame out
1 ounce of Cluster hops at 20 minutes
1 ounce of Cluster at 5 minutes
1 pouch Wyeast 1056 Amber Ale yeast
5 gallon batch
should come in under 20 IBU.
Near 5% ABV
I will keep y’all posted
Planned 1 week at 65 F then rack to secondary for 2 weeks at 67 F
This is less about the beer but I had to use something to make these awesome and over the top burgers.
Ready for the grill – recipe somewhere below.
Ok, how does Karbach factor into this post? See photo below. The burger started off as a 10 ounce lump of 80/20 ground beef. In order to make a pocket in the lump for stuffing I had to use something. Grilling requires a beer in hand so, I used one of my very favorite beers in a can.
The Hopadillo makes a perfect pocket for stuffing and then can help me with the grilling process!
Now once the pocket has been made I can start to add the yummies. Jimmy Dean pure pork Sage sausage, grilled onions, peppers – yellow and orange, Vermont Ultra sharp grated cheddar, Sweet Baby Rae’s BBQ sauce, mince garlc and the meat seasoned my secret way…… for a fee I will release the ingredients.
My very large skillet simmering away just waiting for proper placement in the pocket.
Karbach small tour glass holding the amazing elixir of life….yes, a worn out cliché but I still love it, ready to be stuffed and then wrapped in bacon.
The possibilities are endless. I had mushrooms and a corn salsa to use but forgot to use both!.
Ok, now the mouth watering work of putting them together and grilling. I used indirect heat and it took about 45-50 minutes for them to cook through..
On the grill and ready for the heat!
I only made 3 this go around and they were inhaled. My son ate one and then a conventional burger, my wife ate hers sans bun. I placed mine on a bun and inhaled it before realizing that I failed to add red onion slices, tomato, lettuce and the corn salsa. Gotta do this again! Maybe I can get another Karbach to help on the next batch, Rodeo Clown or Weekend Warrior….so many wonderful choices. One beer wasn’t enough for the grilling session so – I had one of my beers, the “Yes Dear, Raspberry Wheat Ale” and then a New Belgium Ranger IPA.
Check the video out – this is where I picked up ideas for my version….endless possibilities!
Drink Local and Drink Resopnsibly
PS…..the recent hiatus is due to many excuses that don’t really hold water. I have not disappeared – just wafting about in the cloudy murkiness of excuses.