Monday, July 11, 2011
So, in lieu of doing a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout as originally planned, I decided to go for broke and finally do my favorite beer style, the glorious, Russian Imperial Stout.
For the less beer savvy out there, the history of the Russian Imperial Stout basically is that British brewers brewed a big, high alcohol stout with oodles of hops to please the palates of the Russian Imperial court. Imperial stouts are also a favorite of American craft brewers, with wonderful examples such as Old Rasputin, Stone IRS, and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout being fairly easy to find, along with some more difficult to find beers, that are amongst my favorites, such as Southampton IRS, Deschute's the Abyss, and the infamous Three Floyd's Dark Lord.
I wanted my beer to be really big. I don't like my Imperial Stouts to be light in body, in taste or in alcohol. I want big roasted flavors, to be on the upper limit of alcohol for the style, and have a very big body. Brewing was going to test the limits of my mash tun, or so I thought. For a five gallon batch, I was going to be using 22.5# of grain over all. Knowing I would need a lot of strike water to fully submerge the grain in the mash, I struck with 5 gallons.
And by the time mashing had finished, a lot of the water had been absorbed by the grains, which you can see here:
I wanted this beer to be thick and dark. On BeerAdvocate, when I review an imperial stout as "being thick like motor oil," that means its good. I'm happy to report this one looks a bit like motor oil.
And heating it up for the boil...
For hops, I wanted some high in alpha acids so I could reduce the amount of hops I used, meaning less beer gets wasted when I transfer it off the trub. I settled on Nugget.
Classical imperial stouts were heavily hopped, but I'm not the biggest fan of hoppy imperial stouts so I just added 2 oz for bittering.
The brewday was fairly successful but that remains to be seen when the beer is ready, which is going to take awhile. The recipe for this beer was:
1# flaked oats
1# flaked barley
.5# Caramel 120
.5# roasted barley
.5# black patent
2 oz 12.2 alpha Nugget @ 60 minutes
Maltodextrine @ 15 minutes
Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
Wyeast 1056 - American Ale
Now, I've read many different things when coming up with recipe formation for imperial stouts, mostly regarding the amount of roasted grains. I've seen as high as 15% and as low as %5. I am a big fan of roastiness but didn't want to overdo it, so I went somewhere down the middle. The maltodextrine is there to add more body, because I want this beer to be very chewy, so I figure between the carapils, oats, flaked barley, and caramel malt the body will be very substantial and I don't think I can overdo it on the body for this beer.
The plan for this beer is that I'm going to bottle half of it as a straight imperial stout and the other half, I'm going to condition on heavy char oak chips that I'm soaking in some Knob Creek single barrel bourbon whiskey to create a barrel aged type flavor. I'm going to bottle the bourbon aged beer in some 750ml bottles and seal them with wax for extended cellaring. The straight IRS is going to go into 12 oz bottles and also be wax sealed for extended cellaring. I will love seeing how this beer changes with age, and if I am pleased with how this beer came out, I'll brew it again in years to come and create my own verticals, which should be awesome.
I think the biggest issue on this beer might be the yeast. This beer should be getting up to 12% alcohol, which is a size I've never brewed before so hopefully the yeast can handle it.