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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A Repeat – Sorta

My Golden Wheat Red IPA is disappearing too quickly so I decided to brew another batch, albeit with a tweak to the hopping schedule.

Here is the link to the original post with the recipe;

https://bishopsbeerblog.com/2013/11/10/inspiration-comes-to-fruition/

My preliminary notes prior to cranking up the burner

My preliminary notes prior to cranking up the burner

The plan was to increase the hops, change the schedule up and see how it lands. There was a significant goof on my part, I was going to stay with the Amarillo and Cascade hops mix I used previously. I went to the Beer store in Humble(Backyard Homerbrewers and Education Centre) to pick up the ingredients from my pre-prepared list. Picked up the ingredients and headed home. If you look closely in the photo you will see a package of Centennial hops, not Cascade! The dummy at the store fouled up, or so I thought. My list was still in the bag so I looked at what I had written……Hmmmmm, where was my brain, I was thinking Cascade and wrote Centennial! I got what I wrote down – I guess I was the dummy.

Most everything stayed the same….except for the hops and the hopping schedule.

60 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo

30 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo and 1 oz Centennial

15 minutes – 1 oz Amarillo

At Flameout – 1 oz of Centennial

1 oz Centennial used for Dry hopping planned for the secondary – 5 days then crash to 34 degrees for a couple more.

The Original gravity of my first batch came in at 1.066, this one, using the same grain bill and extract is 1.040 – a significant difference. It could be I was shorted  or I bought slightly different ingredients from my local store. The first batch ingredients were purchased from the cross town store Defalco’s..  The color is also notably lighter – may have to try brewing this again real soon!

The beer is in the fermenter at 62 deg. F for a week and will then be transferred to the secondary and dry hopped….

Is it true that there are no bad beers? Just some better than others?

Drink Local and Drink Responsibly

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

 

Dicks Danger Ale – May It Rest In Peace

After the transfer to the carboy

I had very high hopes for this beer, a clone partial grain recipe. It looked, smelled and tasted great racking from the primary to the secondary carboy. No hint of problems when bottling the batch. I was patient and let it sit for nearly 5 weeks. Ahhh, the reward, or so I thought. Somewhere along the process my ale became infected, infected so severely that I had to pronounce the batch as terminal. I have blamed the cats in the past but I think I may have to admit that I might not have taken the sanitation  to the nth degree. I have been very successful in the past……

For the future, my preparation will include scrubbing down the entire work area, strong cleaning measures for the equipment & bottles and keeping the air still – no cat dander or whatever it may be. I like my beer far too much to let myself become subject to beer-brewing malpractice! I received significant coaching from my better half two weeks ago as I bottled the Double Belgian Wit. She made valid comments and I was reduced to the simple and only right answer a man can give at that point – “Yes Dear”!!!! She likes her Belgian Wit and does not want it to not die a tragic death due to my controllable actions!

In the near future I may consider a conical fermenter and eliminate the racking to the secondary all together. Maybe I should size up to the next size, this would allow me to make 10 gallons at a time and brew a little less frequently. Hmmmmmm – Not a big cost difference in equipment –  I should also add a bigger boil pot too! I will write-up the AFE and see if I have adequate justification with the CFO to proceed with the capital investment.

Better news in the next post…….. I hope!

Bishop

Dick’s Danger Ale is in the Secondary Fermenter

It was a busy afternoon in the kitchen/brewery. I flew in from Midland on the 5:20 AM flight this morning….. I got some feedback – I was told that the flight left at the” crack of stupid”! It was a bit early according to my who picked me up as well as my co-worker – he decided to stay in bed and have a day of leisure – my alarm went off at 3:45 AM in order to get the car back and get my “special” pat down at the security gate… this all metal left  knee sets the alarms off every time. I wonder if anyone ever gets a woodie during this pat down….? No, not me… the guy doing the pat down!

Back to the beer – I transferred the ale from the primary into the glass carboy secondary fermenter in order to clear it up and allow it to condition a little long without sitting on the spent yeast. The grab sample to check the specific gravity was so good I think I  could keg it now and charge it up with CO2 – it would be ready to drink. If it gets better over the time as  it sits before bottling  I won’t be able to keep it around. This partial grain recipe seems to be a keeper. Once I get set up to do an all grain beer I will give this ale a try as an all-grain brew. It looks very dark but isn’t heavy and is just smooth!!!!!

I was able to do a pretty good job of avoiding collisions with my daughter Lisa and my lovely wife. Halloween party tonight with Lisa and friends. She made some of those Ritz cracker and peanut butter cookies dipped in melted almond bark and decorated Halloween style. I wonder if they will go well with D’sDA – (Dick’s Danger Ale)

I did have a bit of a problem during the transfer….. it is a requirement to enjoy a good beer while conducting any and every step of the brewing process. Well, I had a “small” pint of the Belgian Wit I recently brewed – one beer…. shouldn’t be a problem right? Well, not so recently. I have been afflicted with a condition called Sudden Hearing Loss –  just the right ear. I am one of the chosen ones because along with the hearing loss I have a pretty good dose of vertigo….  that becomes the issue. My vertigo and one beer start the merry-go-round spinning a little too fast. The only benefit that I can see is that my good home-brew may stick around a little longer because I am a one and done guy in my current condition. If you want more info there is a link below.

http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/hearing/shl.htm

Hmmmmmm, what shall I brew next?

TTFN,
Bishop

Dick’s Danger Ale is Fermenting

Busy day yesterday. I brewed the 5 gallon batch yesterday and it was a hectic effort. I did not dive in and do an all grain recipe….. my CFO would need to authorize a $600 investment in mashing equipment…maybe a little more depending on the quality. This was a partial grain batch and the grain bill was pretty heavy – 2.5 lbs of 2-row pale malt, 7 ox. of crystal mall 80 (L), 9 oz. of Briess black malt 550 (L) – the black malt really gives it a dark look. I also added 3.15 lbs. of Briess light extract and 1.5 lbs of dried malt extract. I used severla of my dear’s kettles and had to be a little creative to rinse the grains.

Magnum hopsused  for bittering and Mt. Hood hops for aroma – the Mt. Hood hops have a great aroma! Dry English Ale yeast, pitched at 74 degrees and aerated well. A day later there is a good krausen ring around the edges of the fermentation bucket indicating the fermentation is well underway.

I should be ready to bottle in two weeks and enjoy for the Thanksgiving Holiday Season. I ran a taste test on the sample I pulled to check the OG(original gravity) and the color matches up with the recipe – about a 28 on the SRM scale vs. a 35 or more for my Stout. The taste is nice… not sure how it will mature after it conditions. Folks in the Northwest rave about the beer so I am anxious but willing (need) to be patient.

SRM Scale link if you are interested; http://www.brewersfriend.com/2009/02/28/beer-styles-srm-color-chart/

For you folks in Houston…. some good beer news. We have a new brewery, Karbach Brewing Co. The Brewmaster is well seasoned… looks like the Houston Chronicle mixed his name up with the Brewery name in the article… oh well, Eric Warner has somegood  roots and spent time with Flying Dog as the CEO…. I like the Flying Dog offerings and the irreverent humor expressed through the artwork on their labels. The article touts Karbach’s “Sympathy Lager”….. and now the hunt begins.

Hey hun….er, Ms. CFO – how about a good sized refrigerator for the garage so I can brew some Lagers….. I found a great article for clone lagers like Hamms and Oly…..real classics…how about a real good MGD?

Maybe I shouldn’t press my luck.

The Photo below was taken on my 60th birthday – Pat Love – We named a Wheat Ale we brewed after him, John Livezey, my partner in crime at the Humble Beer Festival ( the H is silent in Humble), me.. looking good in that Bush t-shirt and a non-brewing neighbor Alan Wooten…. he did a little quality surveillance for us.

My Bakersfield Brewing Buddies on my 60th Birthday

The Belgian Wit was a hit at dinner tonight. My daughter Ashleigh had a friend over and her review of the beer was pretty spectacular… head swells, chest puffs up and I grin like the Chesire cat…. I do love to hear nice things!

TTFN

Bishop