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

Bishop

 

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Beer and Domestic Harmony

I bottled my Imperial Stout yesterday. The sample I took for the gravity reading was very nice. Just a hint of bourbon from the oak and a taste of both coffee and dark chocolate. Can’t wait to see how it matures. While prepping for the bottling exercise I cleaned up the counters and floors to eliminate potential cat hairs from invading the beer and infecting it. I had all of the chairs moved out and mopping when my wife showed up. She was so pleased that I was mopping the floors for her! Her admiration for my efforts was not long-lasting. She quickly spotted the bottle tree, the priming bucket and other paraphernalia. Then she let know exactly what she thought….

“You’re not mopping the floors for me! You are doing it for your beer!” she said and then walked away.

My beer bottle tree = clean and sanitized bottles!

Guys, can we ever win? On Tuesday of this week we were down at the St Arnold’s Brewery and she put me in a tough stop then. We were sitting at a table near the bar. There was a woman near the same age as my wife standing with her back to us. She was wearing fairly snug jeans. Kathy asked me the no win question.

“Hun, does my butt look as big as hers?” – I looked and honestly didn’t think the woman’s butt looked that big and Kathy’s not as wide as the woman’s butt. I replied, “Hun, your butt is shaped much nicer than hers!” Not quite the answer she wanted to hear.

Then she said, “let me go up and stand next her. You use your phone and take a picture for me.” Oh boy, I really can’t win this one…..fortunately she decided against having me take the picture.

I did remop the floor because I did make a bit of a mess……still did not make too many points because as she points out….I will probably just track in more muck. She normally waits for me to go out of town when she mops so the floors stay nicer – longer!

Had a nice lesson in brewing today down at the Backyard Homebrewers Education center in Humble TX – the H is silent!. I learned a few more tips and techniques to improve the brewing of my next batch!

My homemade toasted oak dowels – hand turned in my shop. They were soaked in bourbon for two weeks before being added to the secondary fermenter.

TTFN

Drink Local

Bishop

Bourbon and Oak Infused Imperial Stout

Last weekend I was able to get my Imperial Stout racked to the secondary fermenter. In the prep and sanitation process I noticed a potential problem with my plans to include the toasted oak dowel that I had so lovingly crafted and infused in bourbon for several weeks. The opening on my glass carboy looked like it was going to be a tight fit when inserting the toasty oak. I went out to the garage and picked up the oak dowel remnant from my turning process and tried a fit test….oh crap…..it doesn’t fit!

Plan B…..rechuck the toasted and soaked dowel sections and turn then down a little. That would delay the racking to the secondary because I would want to ensure that the dowels were sanitary…another couple of weeks in bourbon to be safe. Not a catastrophe but just two more weeks added on to the entire process. I didn’t plan on having my first tasting until December so not a deal killer.

I looked in the mason jar and it appeared that the dowels looked to be a bit smaller in diameter….I’m thinking I might be in luck. I thought back to the roasting process and it did seem that the dowels had shrunk, but would they then expand after infusing themselves with the bourbon???? Ok, extract the dowels with a sanitized stainless steel fork and by golly….they slipped right through the top with room to spare. Now, hopefully after a couple of months they don’t swell up and give me problems retrieving them!

Below is a shot of the carboy and airlock. I decided to use some of the bourbon in the mason jar to provide additional protection in the airlock. Now the challenge – I must be patient!

Five gallons of my Imperial Stout, bourbon infused and toasted oak resting on the bottom. Note the bourbon in the airlock! My wife’s common lament is visible to the right!

TTFN

Bishop

Imperial Stout Additions

Not many votes but my first choice was number one on the list. Oak infused with bourbon has been designated as the route to take. I decided to make my own oak spirals – not really a spiraling cut but I believe it will work. I shot a video of my handiwork on the lathe creating extra surface are for the oaky and bourbon flavors but couldn’t post on this blog – just still photos. I have enough to make many more for a fraction of the cost of commercial oak spirals.  I also roasted the oak in the oven 1 hour 45 minutes at 400 F and 30 minutes at 450 F. I wandered off during the roasting process to run some errands….when I returned to the house I could detect the “robust” odor of roasted oak…..my wife’s description of the odor was not as complimentary….she had her candles burning in an attempt to mask that wonderful robust and oaky scent.

I cut the spiral cut dowel to fit into a wide-mouthed mason jar. I went off to the liquor store to buy the bourbon, a less expensive bourbon than I have in the bar……No Pappy Van Winkle for this effort, I bought Evan Williams – a Kentucky bourbon. I chatted with the store clerk and she seemed to know a little bit about bourbon. I explained my intent and she offered this one as having a bit of a smoky flavor. The reviews are not real good as a drinking bourbon – I did pour a little over ice and I think I would agree with many of the reviewers – mix it with something, do not drink neat or even over ice(my choice). Should be fine for my intended purposes though.

http://www.bourbonenthusiast.com/forum/DBvd.php?id=239&task=displaybottling

The dowel partially cut – repeated the pattern the entire length using my parting tool.

Same dowel viewed from a different angle. Left rough for better liquid absorption and release of flavor.

I will allow it to soak for another week, then transfer my Stout over into the secondary and add my bourbon soaked oak dowel.

PS – the color of the dowel after roasting was about the same color as “tanning moms” face at her peak of brown-ness….roasted oaky brown is my description of her hue!

TTFN

Bishop