The is the first wedding beer I brewed, because I wanted to give it as long as possible to mellow before the big date on Jan 31st 2015. Big imperial stouts often taste quite boozy when they are young. Ideally I would have brewed this many months ago, but it fell by the wayside. I brewed this beer back on October 21st and it was a doozy. 28.25 lbs of grain is a lot to fit in a 10 gallon Igloo cooler so I reduced my mash thickness to 1.0 qt/lbs, which is very thick. In retrospect I should have just brewed a 4 gallon batch instead of my regular 6 gallon batch. That would have allowed me to mash at normal thickness and take all my readings. Ohh well…
I hadn’t brewed an imperial stout before so I decided to look for inspiration from some of my favourite examples. One RIS I really enjoy is Oscar Blues Ten Fidy, with mysterious opaque black colour and intense roast profile. It also happens to be brewed near Denver, Co, where Rebecca and I are going for our honeymoon in February. I did a bit of research and found that someone had made a homebrew recipe with the help of the brewer. I was a bit skeptical because the Oscar Blues website doesn’t mention crystal malt in the recipe, only 2 row/chocolate/roasted barley/flaked oats. I decided to brew it anyway.
I took the percentages of their grain bill and adapted it for my system and expected efficiency (much lower than my usual 75%). Even with the mash thickness set to 1.0 qt/lbs I needed to up my boil time to 2 hours to be able to use a decent amount of sparge water. Since the OG was significantly higher than anything I had brewed before, I decided to set my brewhouse efficiency to 60%, hoping that if anything I would overshoot a bit.
Bridal Brau Imperial Stout (Ten Fidy Clone)
Brewed: Oct 21, 2014
Target OG: 1.106
Target FG: 1.023
Target ABV: ~10.5%
Mash 60 mins at 155*F @ 1.00 qt/lb thickness
Boil for 120 minutes
Collect 8.25 gallons pre-boil
Batch size 6 gallons (after boil and chill)
60% brewhouse efficiency
15 lbs 4 oz 2 Row 1.8L (G&P) [55%]
4 lbs 8 oz Munich I 6L (Weyermann) [16.2%]
2 lbs 6 oz Flaked Oats 1L (G&P) [8.6%]
2 lbs Crystal 45L (Muntons) [7.2%]
2 lbs Chocolate Malt 450L (Muntons) [7.2%]
1 lbs 10 oz Roasted Barley 525L (Muntons) [5.9%]
8 oz Rice Hulls
1.50 oz US Magnum 12.2% AA @ 60 mins (45.2 IBU)
1.00 oz Columbus 17.0% AA @ 25 mins (29.2 IBU)
1.50 oz Columbus 17.0% AA @ 10 mins (22.8 IBU)
1 whirlfloc, 2 g DAP yeast nutrient @ 5 mins
Water and pH
Mash pH target: 5.22 pH
Calcium Chloride: 2.2 g in mash, 1.3 g in sparge
Lactic Acid: none
Water Profile: Ca = 56 ppm, Mg = 9 ppm, Na = 15 ppm, SO4 = 27 ppm, Cl = 65 ppm, HCO3 = 109 ppm, RA = 14 ppm, SO4:Cl = 0.4
WLP090 (~391 Billion cells)
Pitch at 62*F
Controller set to 62-63*F
Bump up to 70*F on Day 6
This was quite an interesting brew day, I didn’t anticipate all the difficulties that would come with such a thick mash. There was barely enough water to wet all the grains so taking an accurate mash temp reading was pretty much impossible. I didn’t even want to think about taking my usual pH reading.
I started by heating 7.1 gallons of water to 172*F, which is quite high of a strike temp, but not when the mash is as thick as 1.0 qt/lb. I mashed in as quickly as I could hoping not to lose too much heat, and had a nice surprise when I went to put my cooler lid on. I just decided to let it sit half on for the duration of the mash.
I have no idea what my mash temp or pH ended up being for this beer, and that bugged me, there was nothing I could have done at the time though. Once the mash and vorlauf were complete I realized that I had to abandon my usual batch sparging technique because my sparge water amount was only 4.4 gallons, not enough to re-suspend all the grain. Instead I did a quasi continuous sparge. As the first running were draining I carefully poured my sparge water on top of the grain one pitcher at a time. I think this was a good call, otherwise my sparge water wouldn’t have touched as much of the grain if batch sparged in from the bottom of the mash tun as usual. In the end I collected 8.5 gallons of 1.080 wort. About 3 points over my estimated pre-boil SG of 1.077, and 1 qt over my pre-boil volume of 8.25. Not a big deal, better over than under since you can always water it down later.
I proceeded with the 2 hour boil without incident and ended up with about 6.35 gallons (@boiling) of 1.110 OG wort. I recirculated through the counterflow chiller until it was outputting 62*F, then ran 5.5 gallons into the fermenter. I pitched the yeast and ran my oxygen wand for 2.25 mins. I set the temperature controller to 62-63*F and rigged up a blow off tube. I also injected O2 again for 1.5 mins about 8 hours later when I woke up in the morning. I came home from work the next day to find beer spilling out of my fermentation chamber and the growler catching my blow off overflowing. Cleaning sticky black beer off my basement floor, mats, and fermentation chamber was a pain but I did it right away. Of course it was overflowing again when I came back from work the next day… After all that I was left with about 4.5 gallons of beer. Six days after brew day I bumped the chamber temp up to 70*F to help the yeast finish off.
Nov 6, 2014: About a week later I took the beer out of the chamber and took a FG reading of 1.028 before setting the better bottle in a corner to finish up at ambient. I’ll check back in another week or two to see how it is doing, tasting mighty fine though! I have high hopes for this beer.