I think I Will Call it an “Imperial Stout”

From the Beer Advocate website; https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/style/157/

“American Double / Imperial Stout

The American Double Stout gets some of it inspiration from the Russian Imperial Stout. Many of these are barrel aged, mostly in bourbon / whiskey barrels, while some are infused with coffee or chocolate. Alcohol ranges vary, but tend to be quite big, and bigger than traditional Russian Imperial Stouts. Most tend to have cleaner alcohol flavors, higher hop levels, and more residual sweetness. Very full-bodied with rich roasted flavors far surpassing normal stouts.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 7.0-12.0%”   [ ? ]

My desire was for a beer at the 11-12% ABV range and mine comes in at a respectable 8.66% ABV. I used charred oak spirals that had been soaked in cheap bourbon. They sat in the secondary for almost 4 weeks. I bottled it today(Feb 21) and I am pleasantly surprised. The bourbon flavor is not overwhelming, my previous attempts took nearly 6 months before the heat of the bourbon flavor mellowed. A little bit of a coffee flavor is present as well in the sample I pulled for the gravity measurement.
Transferring the dark and yummy mixture into the priming tank.
Priming tank slowly filling. Sorry about the focus….the color is what is important…..yes very nice!
I bottled up 23 “Bombers” (22 ounce bottles) and 5 in 12 ounce bottles. The 12 ounce bottles will be sampled periodically to see how the beer is mellowing and aging. I will wait………maybe wait……..kinda sorta for 30 days to see how it goes! If I break down and pop a top early, I will admit my weakness and report out on the taste test!
B for Bombers of B for beer or B for Bishop or……… Can you spot my mistake?
I have reviewed my brewing process and definitely messed up the sparging. I made notes on the brewing worksheet and will see if I can do better next time…..
This all grain batch sure made the chickens at one of my apiary locations happy. I bagged up all the spent grain into individual 1 gallon zip lock bags. Every few days I pull one of the bags out and let it defrost. When i spread it out in the chicken coop they attack the pile of grains as if they were starving! Not sure the grains influence the flavor of the eggs, but “free” feed is a good thing……not really free but nothing goes to waste!
A lot of grain in this batch; 12 lbs. of pale 2 row malt, 12.2 ounces Caramel/Crystal malt 120L, 8.9 ounces Black patent malt, 8.9 ounces Chocolate malt, 8.9 ounces of Roasted barley, 8.9 ounces of Flaked rye and 8.9 ounce of flaked wheat.
Hops; 1.35 ounces Chinook @ 60, .81 ounces Chinook @ 30. .54 ounces Cascade @ 15 and another .54 ounces @ 5. Added 1/2 Irish Moss and 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient @ 10.
Used Safale US-05 and the fermentation took off in a hurry.
OG 1.078 FG 1.012  = ABV of ~ 8.66%
Now the wait…….28 more days……..first taste test………If I can wait that long????????
Drink Responsibly and Drink Local

Russian Imperial Stout- Not as Planned

This is a beer I make every couple of years and typically bottle in 22 ounce bombers. It usually comes in near 11% ABV, and is aged on toasted bourbon soaked white oak. It is what I call a “one and done” beer. Shared on special occasions with several friends. This batch…..well, it will be a little short on the ABV!

I will follow through on the aging process but my OG, original gravity was lower than expected. I had planned on something in the 1.090 range and wound up at 1.078. I just transferred the beer into my secondary fermenter and will add the oak shortly. I will say that the sample pulled for the gravity is tasty so, all is not lost. It now calculates out around 7.5% ABV.

Siphoning out of the primary fermentation bucket into the glass carboy for a little aging. Dark and yummy looking and yes, the sample was purty darned good!

Next up is a SMaSH IPA. Marris Otter malt and Mosaic hops. I will keep all y’all posted from my Kingwood, TX home brewery.

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Celebrating with Ashleigh

Yesterday my daughter Ashleigh turned 31! Well, I did the grilling for the event and, as most of the guests, we enjoyed some good beers. My Honey Blonde Ale homebrew was well received in addition to other craft beer offerings. 

For this special night I broke out a bottle of an Imperial Stout from Marble Brewery in Albuquerque,  New Mexico. What a great beer to help Ashleigh celebrate her 31st! Love you Ashleigh! Black as night, great head and very warming. 

We finished the evening sipping on my homemade Limoncello. I think that was a bit over the top for both of us! Very sweet, lemony and a hint of “Everclear” used for the base. It warms all the way down! 

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Lengthwise Brewing Company

Today is a Homebrew and Brisket Day.

Started off with 12 pound brisket, untrimmed and with a big dose of Lengthwise “Mighty Fine” Home Brewed Seasoned Salt. Great on chicken too- I should have written that adventure up a month or so ago! The Beer Butt Chicken was superb.

Back to the brisket. I am using a garbage bin rescued, gas fired smoker. After trouble shooting the system I found it only needed a new regulator. 24 bucks, a small shipping fee and I was in business.

I started off with my latest batch, the “Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale” . Pretty darned good but could use another couple of weeks to mellow out. My “Yes Dear” critic gave a sideways thumb. Yes dear, I will let it mellow!

An hour or so later after adding a big handful of Mesquite chips, I poured the Lengthwise inspired homebrewed “Golden Wheat Red IPA”. It is near perfect!

Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale - note the slight pink tint to the head. It is good and should nature well.

Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale – note the slight pink tint to the head. It is good and should nature well. Brisket Seasoning posing alongside.


The “Yes Dear Raspberry Wheat Ale posing with the Mighty Fine bottle. Not a bad looking couple?

The Golden Wheat  Red IPA posing with the Lengthwise seasoning.

The Golden Wheat Red IPA posing with the Lengthwise seasoning.

My Golden Wheat Red was whining about not being in the picture so I poured one and drank it! I still have a few hours to finish the brisket. I hope the Russian Imperial Stout doesn’t get into the act! At 10-11% ABV I might lose my sense of smoking focus.

My Russian Imperial Stout aged on charred oak that had been soaked in bourbon.

My Russian Imperial Stout aged on charred oak that had been soaked in bourbon. Is it my eyes or is this seriously out of focus?

The debate is on, should I or should I behave. The Stouts are in 22 ounce or 20 ounce flip tops. Here is a 22 ounce bomber positioned near the smoker just begging for release!


I decided to behave…. Maybe????

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

A Bedtime Elixir

It was a busy day. I had a few things to take care of with my beehive, some invoicing of clients to submit and general “Harry Homeowner” stuff that never goes away. I am at the end of the evening and doing the right thing …..  Watching “Dancing With The Stars” with my bride…. it’s a small price to pay!

So, I  kicked back and enjoyed a partial bottle of my Russian Imperial Stout…..it is  getting better every time I crack one open. Nice tan head, a bit of lace on the sides of the glass and the bourbon notes from the whiskey soaked oak that had sat in the secondary fermenter for three months are mellowing nicely. A hint of coffee, vanilla and a nice warmth as it slides down….Can’t wait to see how it ages … a couple of years from now I will sip on the final few bottles. This is a “one and done” type of beer… a nice finish to the evening and some sweet dreams. Brewed at the end of May this year and we will enjoy it even more in December/January – if it ever cools off!

Mmmmmmm - smooth, dark and oh, so warm.

Mmmmmmm – smooth, dark and oh so warm.


Drink Local and Drink Responsibly




Blue Moon Clone and Other Tidbits

I returned from Williston, North Dakota yesterday and racked my wife’s Blue Moon Clone over into the secondary. It was a couple days later than I wanted but, based on the gravity ready and the taste of the sample pulled for the reading…..it will be a good beer. The gravity had dropped to 1.008 – very nice and it would have been more meaningful if I had remembered to get the original gravity. Beer Smith brewing software estimated the original gravity to be 1.053 and final to be 1.018. I am well below the estimated final gravity so I suspect my original gravity may have been on the low side of the estimate. In a few days, as it settles and clears a little more,  off it will go into the minikegs and bottles.


I just read through the top 50 commercial craft beers in the US as voted by the members of the American Homebrewer Association. By my count I have had 23 of the top 50. I apologize for not having tried hard enough to score higher. My newest “favorite IPA” was tied for 49th, Odell’s IPA. I believe as the distribution for Odell’s widens it will move up. If you can run down a sixer….and you like IPAs’, buy it and enjoy.

These same folks ranked brewers as well – of the top 25 I have sampled beers from 14 of them…Still have to work on better form. I think I need a plan for the second half of 2014! I will be in Chicago for a week in August so I expect to sample that market! I will be in the Paso Robles area soon and will visit the number “7” ranked brewery, Firestone Walker. It is home to my “personal” number one ranked beer, their barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout, Parabola!

Included in the article are recipes…clone recipes that are very tempting – One is a clone for an “All Day IPA” from Founders Brewing Company in Michigan…it comes in at an ABV of about 4.7%. The number one ranked beer, “Pliny the Elder” from Russian River in California is also included with a clone recipe. It is a  heavily hopped IPA that comes in at 8.2% ABV and an amazing dosage of wonderful hops! What shall a man do? Maybe both????

I have to get my wife’s beer bottled and out of the fermenting chamber. I can only ferment 2 – 5 gallon batches at a time. If I only had a bigger chest freezer! Hmmmmmmm I wonder if Santa would say that I have been a “good enough” boy this year?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly


Imperial Stout – This was Definitely not a “Quickie”!

My second attempt at brewing an all grain batch was a significantly more time consuming. I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout – “An intensely flavored, big, dark ale. Roasty, fruity, and bittersweet, with a noticeable alcohol presence. Dark fruit flavors meld with roasty, burnt, or almost tar-like sensations. Like a black barleywine with every dimension of flavor coming into play. ” (http://www.bjcp.org/2008styles/style13.php#1f

Hmmmmmm dark as night and an nice tan looking foam!

Hmmmmmm dark as night and an nice tan colored foam!

The total grain bill weighed in at 21 pounds. A massive amount compare to the previous all grain pale ale I last brewed. I had to make another purchase to handle this “big” beer. I am now the proud owner of a triple clad 60 quart Polarware kettle. It is built “Hell for Stout” – FYI – a subtle tongue in cheek play on words. The boil started at nearly 8 gallons and during the 90 minute boil it reduced down to the 5 gallon recipe’s designated target volume.

Dry weight was 21 pounds of grain. Now - muck more than that! At least I didn't waste it...tried a bread recipe - not very good. Fed some to the birds....they didn't like it so the remainder went to the compost heap.

Dry weight was 21 pounds of grain. Now – muck more than that! At least I didn’t waste it…tried a bread recipe – not very good. Fed some to the birds….they didn’t like it, so the remainder went to the compost heap.

The batch came in at an OG of 1.088 a little lower than I was predicting…I spilled a bit pouring into the fermenting bucket( didn’t I Ben?) and had to add about  3/4 gallon of water…probably caused a bit of dilution. Still well within the acceptable range.

All in all the brewing process went well. The beer seemed to be slow kicking off and it took 4 days before I noticed any sign of activity and when I did it was a doozy! You know, intuition is something that shouldn’t be ignored. The brew store suggested using two vials of yeast sine it was such a big beer. I used White Labs WLP 007, Dry English Ale yeast. It took off sometime late on the fourth day…..when I checked on it on the 5th day it was very obvious that fermentation had kicked off….my intuition told me to use a blow-off hose. My intuition was right but I didn’t listen. Now I had a good excuse and reason to clean out the converted freezer.

What a mess! The upside is - the freezer is very clean now!

What a mess! The upside is – the freezer is very clean now!

Cleaned it out and left it for another 6 or so days before I found time to rack it over into the secondary…..Today. The gravity had dropped to 1.026 – good for around 8.5% ABV  – now I need to be very patient – about 6 months worth. I still have a few adds, I have some white oak toasted to a burnt toast look and being soaked in Bourbon at the moment. In another week or so the oak will be added to the secondary for a final touch.

There it is - 1.026 SG - hopefully I will get a little more fermentation and it will drop a little more - 8.47% ABV at the moment.

There it is – 1.026 SG – hopefully I will get a little more fermentation and it will drop a little more – 8.47% ABV at the moment.

Continuing along at about 63-65 deg. F in the converted freezer. The sample pulled for the Specific Gravity check was PDG! How much long before Santa arrives? Yep, that’s what I thought. I will have it bottled and share one with Santa! I have 4 or 5 22 oz. bottles from my last batch brewed over two years ago and one that is about 4 years old waiting on my son Ben’s graduation celebration….July 2014!

Next, the CFO has asked for a Belgian Wit – something along the lines of a Blue Moon – only better! She loves the Raspberry Wheat Ale in the mini kegs, the Tap-A-Draft 6L ones….. She is down to about 3L remaining and getting very stingy about sharing!

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly