Sunday, November 17, 2013

#14 Stone Imperial Russian Stout Clone - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Brewed 11/17/13:
After struggling last time with the ESB, this brewday went extremely smoothly.  Not only was I able to finish the beer without a hitch, but I bottled the ESB simultaneously, all at record pace, by myself.  If only it always went this smoothly.

I took a pH measurement for the first time on this beer.  I picked up a tube of test strips on amazon for $5, because I figured this would help me get a feel for what might have gone wrong with a few beers earlier in the year.  If the pH leaves the narrow mashing window, the malt enzymes that hydrolize the starch in the grain become less effective, possibly resulting in incomplete conversion, plus tannins can soak into the wort from the grain husks.  I haven't tracked or adjusted mash pH up to this point, but this time I can at least see where I'm at.  The strips proved hard to read as the shade changes between the high and low ends of the mash pH are not as obvious as they could be.  About all I could gather was that the pH during the mash was somewhere in the right neighborhood.  Given the high percentage of dark malts in the mash--about 16% with another 24% brown malt--this beer should be way more acidic than previous beers.  This supports my hypothesis that the water I have here is very alkaline and the batches that went wrong probably missed the optimal mash pH window.

After the brew was complete and the ESB bottled, I racked the wort straight onto the yeast cakes from the ESB.  Imperial stouts and other high gravity ales require high cell counts of healthy yeast to ferment all that sugar and finish their business in the resulting high alcohol environment.  Instead of preparing a massive yeast starter with fresh yeast, I planned my ESB to perform the same function.  Now it's not best practice to rack fresh wort into the same fermenter--the yeast should always be rinsed with sterilized water to separate the trub, and the fermenter should be cleaned and sanitized to remove the potential contaminants and debris--but it was easier.  I didn't have an extra pair of hands, so since I was already bottling on brewday, I let sleeping yeast lie.  The result was approximately three times the recommended cell count according to the Mr. Malty yeast calculator, but oh well.

I racked the wort at 60F into the two fermenters with the Whitbread dry and Worthington White Shield yeasts, 4 gal in each, and set the temperature to 62F.  Each got 1 minute of O2 and half a tsp of yeast energizer just to make sure they were ready for the big stout.

I got a text from my mom two days later when she checked on it for me:

I had no idea the yeast would be so aggressive at 62F, the lower end of their active temperature range.  These carboys were only 2/3 full, leaving 2 gallons of headspace, but the foam clearly spewed well beyond that.  You can't see it from this picture, but there were sticky brown splotches all over the sides, door and ceiling of the refrigerator.  Moral of the story: always use a blow off tube for primary fermentation.

I drove up the next day to clean the fermentation fridge out and replace the airlocks.  The whole roomed smelled wonderful, like a chocolate bar exploded everywhere, but just not what I wanted to be doing with my Wednesday night.  The fermentation seemed to have pretty much finished as the surface of the beer was pretty clear, so after bleaching resanitizing the airlocks, I bumped the temperature up to 68F to keep the yeast active as long as possible.

Racked 12/1/13:
I racked this to secondary after 2 weeks.  I've done a lot of brewing lately, so I'm in no hurry to get this bottled.  I plan on letting this sit for at least a month to let it mature a bit while I drink the other beers.  After losing so much volume to trub and the blowoff, I'm worried there may be too much headspace in the secondary carboy.  These ones are only 5 gal instead of 6, but from what I've read that increases the risk of oxidation.  I don't remember where I read this, but someone recommended adding a bit of corn sugar or malt extract to restart the yeast and clean up that oxygen.  I like that idea, especially in a big stout like this where I need to age it awhile and the extra point of gravity will hide nicely.  I added 2 oz. of corn sugar to each carboy and replaced them in the fermentation fridge at 68F.

Bottled 1/4/14:
Ned and I bottled our cider this afternoon, so I decided to do the stout too while everything was out.  Thankfully Ned decided to stick around and do this one too, because it was a very long day as it was, and very cold as well.  Seriously.  Hose water was freezing underneath my feet as I was cleaning things, and the next morning I discovered this pile of frozen foam.  It was so cold it froze solid before the bubbles could pop.

Anyway, both the stout and the cider have been sitting for quite awhile, so maybe they could have used a dose of fresh yeast to kickstart the carbonating process.  All I have on hand is US-05, and between the risk of increased attenuation and the extra effort required, I decided to just let the current residents do their job.  Next time I'll have some dry wine yeast on hand so I don't have to worry about attenuation issues.  It should be about a month before these beers are ready to drink.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

#14 Stone Imperial Russian Stout Clone - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

If I had to choose just one style to perfect, it would be the Russian Imperial Stout.  Capitalization required.  I love stouts in general, but this is the biggest and baddest of the bunch.  They are so big--often with an OG in excess of 1.100--that despite the high degree of attenuation and intensely bitter roasted malt and hop flavors, they are still balanced with residual sweetness and a thick, viscous body.

I tried an extract imperial stout last spring--a clone of Old Rasputin from North Coast--but that turned into a rubbery mess.  A clogged counter-flow chiller sent boiling wort flying, and we twice lost rubber tubing through the neck of the fermenter.  I still have more than a case "conditioning" in my closet, but really I'm afraid to touch it.

This time I'm aiming to tackle another of my favorites: Stone Imperial Russian Stout.  Not only is it one of the best, but it is a seasonal beer released mid April, usually within days of my birthday.  But a big reason I chose to brew this is that there was a great article in BYO Magazine on Stone that included clone recipes for several of their beers including this one.

The recipe I plan on using is a partial mash adapted from the one in the article.  I've been getting terrible efficiency (around 55%) doing brew-in-a-bag, so I doubt the grain bag could hold all the malt I would need, especially when I scale it up to 8 gal.  The plan is to mash the specialty grains and as much base malt as I can (about 15 lbs. total) like normal, then make up the rest of the base malt with dry light malt extract.  On a side note, this recipe looks similar to the historic Courage Russian Imperial Stout recipe as reported by Ron Pattinson with the high percentage of brown/amber malt.

Stone IRS Clone
Batch Size (fermenter): 8.00 gal
Estimated ABV: 9.2 %
Estimated OG: 1.087 SG
Estimated FG: 1.018 SG
Estimated Color: 38.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 92.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.3 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt           Name                                     %/IBU         
9 lbs         Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)         36.7 %
3 lbs 12.0 oz Amber Malt (22.0 SRM)                    15.3 %
1 lbs 12.0 oz Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)               7.1 %
12.0 oz       Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          3.1 %
4.0 oz        Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)          1.0 %
9 lbs         Extra Light Dry Extract [Boil 90 min]    36.7 %
3.80 oz       Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.60 %] - Boil 90  92.8 IBU
1.00 tsp      Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins)              -
1.0 pkg       British Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1098)    -
1.0 pkg       London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028)     -

Mash Schedule: BIAB, 150F
Total Grain Weight: 24 lbs 8.0 oz
Estimated Cost: $63.25

As I mentioned in the ESB brewday notes, I have two English yeasts from that beer that are now built up to sufficient quantities for the stout.  The recipe from BYO calls for WLP 002 which is the Fuller's strain, but it tends to leave residual sweetness while Stone's beers tend to be pretty dry.  The two strains I chose are much more attenuative and should do a better job thinning the morass that is high gravity wort.

Russian Imperial Stout Links:
BYO Style Profile
Brewers Association Style Spotlight
All About Beer Magazine

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#13 ESB - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Brewed 11/10/13:
So this brewday was a shit show.  I was forgetting things left and right.  Thankfully Steve joined me, so we had an extra set of hands and eyes on the wort.  I thought that would make things go smoothly, so we tried to bottle the oatmeal stout simultaneously.  It was too much.  I think I've learned my lesson: brew day and bottling day are not the same thing.

Anyway, so we brewed the ESB.  The general theme of English bitters is to extract as much flavor and body from as little grain as possible.  Flavor comes from a lot of places, but the body of the final beer comes primarily from unfermented sugars or dextrines (and to some degree from proteins in suspension).  Yeast digest short chain sugars like glucose, fructose and maltose, but have a hard time with longer carbohydrates.  Starch from the malt is broken down in different ways by different enzymes at different temperatures.  Fine tuning the body of a beer depends on adjusting the temperature of the mash to achieve the right balance of enzymatic activity, and thus the right balance of fermentable and unfermentable sugars.

But to complicate matters, different yeast strains also handle different ranges of sugars.  Some Belgian yeasts can ferment over 80% of the sugar content (known as 80% attenuation), while some British yeasts may only take 60% of the sugars.  For this batch we chose two middle of the road English strains that will ferment the big imperial stout up next but leave sufficient dextrines in this beer to prevent it from seeming watery.

Between the yeast choice, and a warmer mash temperature, this beer should come out full of flavor and body, but after drinking so many "double" and "imperial" american beers, I'm still hesitant to drop the original gravity too low.  We've been mashing using the brew-in-a-bag method, so our temperatures can swing by as much as 10F.  By contrast, professional breweries can keep there mash temperatures within a degree of the target.  I would be curious to know what effect these swings have on the composition of the wort, as I'm sure the temperature and timing of these swings could produce some surprising results.  As mentioned in the last post, we targeted an original gravity 1.050, so that we have room to play with these techniques, but still have a flavorful beer if things come out more fermentable than expected.

Yeast pitched at around 60F.  Worthington White Shield (Wyeast 1028) pitched straight from smack-pack (popped in the morning), and Whitbread dry (US-04) pitched dry.  Carboys placed in refrigerator and set to 62F.

2 Days: Temp to 68F.  Smallish krausen (~1") on each.  Look nearly identical.  Smell already starting to turn from sulfur/sour to something English.  Is that from the yeast, hops or malt?  I don't know but it smells good.

The remains of the bottling day gravity sample when I could finally pull it away from my face long enough to take a picture.  Oh and remember how I said I wouldn't bottle and brew on the same day?  Well that's the imperial stout in the background.  Whomp whomp.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

#13 ESB - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

To be honest, I've never really been a huge fan of English bitters--or really most beers not from the good ol' USA--but several things lined up to make this a great time to brew an English bitter.  First of all, the last brew was a clone of the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, so it would be nice to have something lighter on hand as a complement.  Another English beer would fit nicely, and on our trip trip to Europe last winter, my dad loved the English ales.

During the Nottingham leg of the trip, we made a pit stop at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem--a pub claiming to be the oldest in England, and a favorite of knights on their way to join the crusades--for a pint and some fish and chips.  While definitely a local favorite, this place was literally a hole in the wall; the tiny building was nestled against Castle Rock, with tables and booths tucked into natural caverns in the cliff.  My Dad's Olde Trip from Greene King Brewery was his favorite beer during our travels, and among the bitters we tried it would be tough to argue against it.

On top of all that, I happen to be sitting on 40 lbs. of Maris Otter malt left over from the oatmeal stout.  What's special about Maris Otter?  Well for starters it's an English barley varietal bred specifically for brewing English ales.  But more interesting than that is the malting process: English malt was traditionally "floor malted" or spread out on the floor of the maltings to dry after germination and turned periodically.  This resulted in less even drying and kilning than modern malts, meaning a more interesting and malty character.  While I have heard that this maltster, Thomas Fawcett and Sons, no longer floor malts the Maris Otter sold here, it is still darker than most American malts.  I've been interested in how this actually comes across, so since I have the stuff on hand I like the idea of brewing a beer that really showcases it.

The recipe I'm going to use is pretty basic, like most bitters.  Malt, water, yeast, hops.  English beers tend to be smaller than American craft beers, but make up for that with techniques that maximize body and flavor.  At 1.050, this will be fairly big for the English (est. ABV 4.5%, as compared to Olde Trip which at 4.3% is the strongest draft ale in Greene King's lineup) but the smallest beer I've brewed in awhile.  This should give some room to play with English mashing techniques while still having a decent beer if I can't get the body I'm looking for.  I'm going to do another split batch to try out a couple English yeasts, the Whitbread Dry strain (S-04/Wyeast 1098 WLP007) and Worthington White Shield.  Like with the Maris Otter, I'm interested to see the difference the English variety makes over the classic American yeast I've been using.  Plus as a bonus, this batch will serve as a giant yeast starter for my next brew: a Russian imperial stout.

Batch Size (fermenter): 6.00 gal
Estimated ABV: 4.5 %
Estimated OG: 1.048 SG
Estimated FG: 1.014 SG
Estimated Color: 9.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 39.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 68.7 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt        Name                                     %/IBU         
13 lbs     Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)         92.9 %
1 lbs      Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM)    7.1 %
2.00 oz    Goldings, East Kent [6.30 %] - Boil 60.0 31.3 IBU
1.00 oz    Goldings, East Kent [6.30 %] - Boil 15.0 7.8 IBU
1.0 pkg    British Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1098)    -
1.0 pkg    London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028)     -

Mash Schedule: BIAB, 156F
Total Grain Weight: 14 lbs
Estimated Cost: $32.92
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...