Monday, September 21, 2009

Holiday Stout

Today I started to brew what to me is a very different beer, a bold and intriguing holiday stout with cherries and chocolate! It is categorized as an imperial stout but it should be quite interesting because of the chocolate and cherry adjunct. To be truthful, the original recipe I based this on came from the BeerTools Pro recipe database called "Black and Tam's Double Chocolate Cherry Stout". I adjusted the recipe to fit the ingredients I had on hand and this is what I came up with:

1 lb American Black Patent
1 lb Black Roasted Barley
8 oz Munich 20L Malt
8 lb Ultralight Extract (MoreBeer)
3.0 lb Dry Amber Extract
2 oz Northern Brewer (8.00%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
1 oz Willamette (5.00%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
1 oz Willamette (5.0%) - added during boil, boiled 1 min
23 gr Fermentis S-04 Safale S-04
1.0 lb Dried Cherries, no pits - added during boil, boiled 0 min
3.0 tsp Hershey's cocoa - added during boil, boiled 0 min
2.0 tsp Cinnamon - added during boil, boiled 0 min
2.0 tsp Cloves, Nutmeg (1 tsp each) - added during boil, boiled 0 min

This brew was the first time I had the opportunity to use my new immersion chiller. That together with doing the boil in the kitchen instead of in my back yard as I did in my previous effort, made this a much smoother and efficient operation. But there are always inprovements but this went very well with a couple of exceptions.

Here is the immersion chiller with my boil kettle:

I'm using my double ring burner with an external propane tank so doing the boil was no problem.

This was my brewing plan:
Prep the boiling area.
-burner and gas tank
-wash boil kettle
-wash immersion cooler
-sanitize fermemtation bucket, lid, airlock, stirring spoon, measure cup etc
Boil 2 gal water and let cool (for yeast and to make-up the loss due to boil)
Mash tun (really steeping because these grains don't have any enzymes)
-bring 2.5l water to 150℃ and add grains in bag
-maintain at 150℃ for 30 minutes.

Boil kettle - steeping
-add 4 gal water and bring to 150℃
-sparge from mash tun (2liter)
-sparge additional 2 liter
-add DME slowly and stir
-add LME slowly and stir
-add 4 tablets alpha-galactosidase (Beano, 600 GaIU) and stir, leave for 30 minutes
-bring to boil and turn off heat

Boil kettle - boil
-add 2 oz Northern Brewer hops, boil 50 minutes
-add 1 oz Willamette, whilfloc insert immersion chiller, boil for 10 minutes

-turn of heat
-hydrate the yeast
-add 1 oz Willamette
-add cherries and cocoa, stir wait 15 minutes
-add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
-cool to 20℃ or so.

-siphon into fermenter
-add remaining hops for dry hopping
-shake rattle roll the fermenter to get good aeration.
-pitch the yeast

This what the wort looked like after the steeping and the DME and the LME were added:

Looks like a stout to me. And the wort tasted damned good even at this stage. Before continuing with the boil, I added the Beano and let it do its magic for 30 minutes. Not sure what this will to the F.G. and the alcohol content but this is something I wanted to try.

After the boil, I was so excited about using the immersion chiller that I forgot to add the whirlfloc! But the immersion chiller did its job, cooling the hot wort down to 25℃ in under 30 minutes. I don't have a pre-chiller so I added a bag (sanitized of course) of ice into the cooled wort to bring it down further to yeast pitching temperature.

After adding water to bring the wort volume back up to 5 gals, the O.G. came in at an amazing 1.098! The predicted O.G. is 1.093 so I'm not sure what this means.

I'm doing the fermentation in a plastic bucket fitted with a valve and because I'm not planning on doing a secondary fermentation, I will be able to bottle straight from the bucket, saving an extra racking step.

I had planned to use my aeration pump to do the aeration prior to pitching the yeast but the package I sent it in still has not arrived yet so I had to "shake the baby" which was a bit of a chore.

Well the yeast is starting to wake up and seeing the tremendous work it has in front of it. It will be a busy several days ahead for the little buggers. I plan to ferment for up to 2 weeks to give the yeast plenty of time to bring down the S.G. and up the alcohol.

Overall, I was very pleased with how this brewing effort went, especially compared to my last effort which was a back breaker. Doing the boil next to the sink so that I don't have to move 5 gals of liquid is a much better way to go. I should have got the chiller earlier.

This type of high gravity brew will need a long conditioning time, the original brewer suggested it gets better over time, up to a year. So I'm planning on drinking some this holiday season and saving the rest for next year. Can't wait to taste it.

***UPDATE*** 15 hours later
Wow, this is the most vigorous fermentation ever. I started with the airlock but it was clogged when I woke up this morning. I removed the lid and saw this:

So I removed the kraeusen and replaced the airlock with a blow off tube:

Here is some kinky blow off tube action:

Damn, I can hear the bubbles coming through the blow off while I'm typing this. Those yeasties are having a ball.


  1. Sounds nice. Good luck with it. Good luck with waiting a whole year before drinking it all, too!

  2. We'll see if it lasts a year! The trick is to brew some other beers in the interim to keep my mind of of this.

  3. Did you use some of the stuff that you bought while you were in San Diego?