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Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Happy Birthday to me!
As long as I've been working I've always set out to not work on my birthday, it just doesn't seem right to me. This year however I felt that it would be fun to spend 6 hours brewing, which is technically working but not to the same level.  I think it's really telling about how much I enjoy brewing when it's something I want to do on days I set aside doing nothing.

When I set out to craft the recipe for my birthday brew I had a couple of thoughts in mind.  I wanted it to be big with agability, nothing below 10%.  This opened the doors to Imperial Stouts, Old Ales, Barley Wines and American Strong Ales.  I also had a bunch of oak chips and cubes that have been sitting on various spirits since summer that I wanted to play with.  My plan would be to brew it on my birthday, ferment it and bulk condition till July, then age it in 1/2 - 1 gallon growlers on the various oaks till December when I'll blend it back together and keg it.  I'll enjoy the first glass on my next birthday when I finish up brewing next years batch.  

I spent a lot of time reading various recipes online, in various magazines (BYO, Zymurgy etc) and in my books but nothing seemed to be jumping out at me.  The previous year I'd toyed around with brewing an anniversary beer based on Stone's Double Bastard but decided I really wanted a stout as I really like how Imperial Rhino Stout came out. 

The Grain Landscape
On my way back from Houston I happened to catch Mike's (the Mad Fermentationist) tasting notes on his Kate the Great clone.  Apparently Todd Mott, Portsmouth's head brewer, sent a brewer a clone recipe for his infamious stout who then posted the recipe up onto Homebrewtalk. After reading through the couple dozen pages and the various versions it produced (including Mike's) I decided that I had found my recipe.

The next obstacle would be to determine how I would brew it.  I really wanted to do it all grain for several reason however I ran into a slight problem as my mash tun won't be able to hold the shear volume of grain that would be require for a 5 gallon batch. If you ever wonder about that check out this link. I therefore decided to sub-out part of the two row for 3 lbs of light DME.

When it came to my birthday I got a more relaxed start than my last several all grain days, it was my birthday after all.  Bonnie was nice enough to bring me a breakfast sandwich and we set Sydnie up with a table and chair so that all of us could hang out together, which was a great birthday treat for me.  I took a gravity reading after I finished sparging and found I was right on target.  It also happened to be one of the tastiest wort's I've ever produced, so tasty in fact that I poured myself a glass of it to enjoy while I brewed.  

5 Gallons of Stout
The only real issue I had came as I was bringing my pot up to boil.  I noticed that my burner was quieter then it should be and sure enough ran out of gas shortly there after.  It was nothing that a quick run to Home Depot couldn't solve but I really should invest in a backup tank.  The only disappointment came when I took my OG reading, which despite nailing my pre-boil gravity came up 8 points short of target grrrr.

For yeast I used a massive starter that I had put together several days ahead.  I also used a more generous amount of nutrient and hit it with triple the O2 at each oxygenation step. I'll keep it in primary till it get very close to it's target FG then move it to secondary for a while.  I'm really looking forward to this one.


Imperial Stout
Type: All Grain Date: 12/29/2011
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal 
Brewer: Scott Bennett 
Asst Brewer: 
Boil Size: 7.65 gal
Boil Time: 75 min 
Equipment: Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (10 Gal)
End of Boil Volume 6.24 gal 
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.104 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.096 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.019
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 11.4 %
Bitterness: 75.7 IBUs
Est Color: 54.7 SRM 


14.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
0.90 lb Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM)
0.90 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)
0.90 lb Wheat Malt, Dark (9.0 SRM)
0.80 lb Carafa III (525.0 SRM)
0.70 lb Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)
0.60 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.60 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
0.30 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)
0.30 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.30 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)
3.00 lb Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) 

1.10 oz Magnum [14.00 %] - First Wort 75.0 min
0.70 oz Northdown [8.50 %] - First Wort 75.0 min
0.70 oz Perle [8.00 %] - First Wort 75.0 min
0.25 oz Perle [8.00 %] - Boil 15.0 min
1.30 oz Northdown [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 3.0 min
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] - Aroma Steep 3.0 min
1.00 oz Perle [8.00 %] - Aroma Steep 3.0 min

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge 
Total Grain Weight: 23.28 lb
Sparge Water: 4.55 gal
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F

Mash Steps

Mash In Add 6.33 gal of water at 159.1 F 148.0 F 75 min
Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 2 steps (0.33gal, 4.23gal) of 168.0 F water

Lazy morning setup
Adding the grains to the mash
After the rest
Close up on the mash
Very dark
Pre-boil gravity reading
The Hops
The lineup
Adding the extract
Getting ready to boil
Monster boil
Easy there Homer...
Knock Out Hops
Secondary ice bath for cool down
Captured the cool down water and watered
the backyard one bucket at a time
Homer protecting the cooling beer
Moving to cooling station 2
Taking the OG
Big dose of O2
Active fermentation started inside 18 hours

1 comment:

  1. I've had issues hitting my high gravity targets as well. I've had to lower my efficiency down to about 58-60% for my big beers. I'm still dialing this in though. I overshot my gravity on the imperial oatmeal stout I just brewed, but I was happy with that since I'd been under my target OG on this beer for several previous brews.


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