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Huge imperial stout recipe critique

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by MaxSpang, Sep 14, 2012.

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  1. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    Right, so, I've been working on this recipe for the good part of a year now. I've been tweaking it a lot, and I plan on brewing it once the weather gets a bit cooler. The characteristics I want are: Smooth, big body, complex, lots of raisin, lots of chocolate, lots of roasted/coffee character, not taste like doo-doo.

    Any help is appreciated!

    Size: 5.0 gal
    Efficiency: 60.0%
    Attenuation: 75.0%
    Calories: 387.8 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

    Original Gravity: 1.115 (1.075 - 1.115)
    Terminal Gravity: 1.029 (1.018 - 1.030)
    Color: 39.46 (30.0 - 40.0)
    Alcohol: 11.5% (8.0% - 12.0%)
    Bitterness: 79.5 (50.0 - 90.0)

    23.0 lb American 2-row
    1.5 lb Special B Malt
    1.5 lb Roasted Barley
    1 lb American Chocolate Malt
    .5 lb Oats Flaked
    0.5 lb Rye Flaked
    0.25 lb British Black Patent
    1.0 lb Rice Hulls
    0.25 lb Molasses - added during boil, boiled 10 m
    1 oz Columbus (15.0%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m
    1.0 oz Chinook (13.0%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 m

    Giant starter of White Labs WLP001 California Ale

    3.0 oz Oak Wood Cubes soaked in Woodford Reserve Bourbon for about a year - added dry to secondary fermenter

    Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.18
  2. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    You'll get flamed for the Special B but I think it adds a lot to an Imperial stout. I probably would cut it to a pound though. Otherwise I like it except for the hops, but that's because I really don't like Chinook.
  3. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    I figured the Special B would be the thing that people would have issues with... But it only makes up around 5.1% of the total grain bill, and dammit I love that raisin flavor in imperial stouts. I really want to stick my fingers in my ears and say "Lalalalala" about that, but I am open to anyone else's opinion on it.

    As for the Chinook, I happen to like that hop but quite honestly this beer is going to bulk age for a long time. So long, in fact, that by the time it gets bottled and cracked open the Chinook with be mostly faded and leave just a sliver of flavor.
  4. cmac1705

    cmac1705 Apr 30, 2010 Florida

    Nothing wrong with the recipe, IMO. I like Special B too, but I usually like to layer crystal malts for beers like this to add complexity, i.e. a little bit of light, medium, and dark crystal.
    ThreeFishes, brewsader and ABisonEgo like this.
  5. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Moderator Subscriber Beer Trader

    I'd also suggest crystal, and maybe drop the special B a hair in favor of some crystal. Maybe #1 Special B, and then another half pound of say.. Crystal 80 or something.

    I'd even suggest maybe Maris Otter instead of plain ol 2 row.... But I like MO.

    The recipe sounds pretty good to me actually.
    Duff27 and bgjohnston like this.
  6. NiceFly

    NiceFly Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    Not tasting like doo doo is very a very important part of recipe formulation.

    Not exactly something I would brew but nothing seems out of wack.

    I am not sure where you plan on getting the chocolate character from so I would suggest 3-5% brown malt for that component.
    Good Luck.
  7. Tebuken

    Tebuken Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    I would drop off rice hulls and raise oats flaked to 1 lb to add creaminess.Also, i would raise BU:GU to 0.71 ,so you would need bitterness around 82.
  8. cmac1705

    cmac1705 Apr 30, 2010 Florida

    Why should he get rid of the rice hulls?
  9. Tebuken

    Tebuken Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    You don´t need to do a deep clarification of this beer, so you can save this rye hulls for pale beers.I am assuming he has not stuck mashing issues, according his brewhouse efficiency i think his grains are not ground too fine.
    ABisonEgo likes this.
  10. cmac1705

    cmac1705 Apr 30, 2010 Florida

    That's a lot of assumptions. And considering that rice hulls can't hurt the beer, I see no reason why to not keep them in there as a prophylactic.
    Duff27 likes this.
  11. Tebuken

    Tebuken Jun 6, 2009 Argentina

    They are not a lot of assumptions in my opinion.
  12. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    I'm putting in the rice hulls just as a precaution to prevent a stuck mash/sparge. I've never made a beer this huge, just trying to prevent any potential issues while I get a feel for brewing beers this big.
    Duff27 likes this.
  13. mattsander

    mattsander Feb 3, 2010 Alberta (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Rice hulls are never a bad thing... take every step you can to shorten your lautering time. The special B looks good to me in there, I'd keep it.
  14. VikeMan

    VikeMan Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Perhaps he was planning to get it from the chocolate malt.
    ABisonEgo and Homebrew42 like this.
  15. alexipa

    alexipa Oct 7, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I like the recipe. Just wondering if you want raisin/chocolate/coffee flavor, why not add some raisins and cocoa nibs to the boil, and coffee to secondary?
  16. Naugled

    Naugled Sep 25, 2007 New York

    Looks like a solid recipe to me. I think it will produce an interesting and delicious RIS. A couple of questions and comments..

    You probably won't hit 75% atten, the last couple of RIS's I made were in the low 70%'s. You might get close to 75% but don't sweat it if you don't.

    How big is your mash tun?

    How do you plan to control the first few days of fermentation? This is key, the temp can quickly and easily run away from you.
  17. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    I don't want to complicate the recipe/process any more than it already is. Plus, this beer is going to be expensive enough as it is.

    My mash tun is 15 gal. And I'm going to wait until it's around 55-60 in my basement to brew this. I'm thinking I might try the wet t-shirt method as a stand-by if things get too hot.

    Also, I should point out that I'm getting a pure O2 system to get lots of oxygen in the wort before I pitch the yeast
  18. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    Might be personal preference, but if you want some additional complexity, drop the American two-row and replace with Marris Otter (Crisp, TF&S or Warminster Floor Malted), or some quality US Pale Malt (Great Western Pale)...

    Also, if you want it to be a little smoother, you could replace the US Chocolate with some Simpson's British Chocolate, which is a little more chocolatey & nutty, but this is a RIS, and some tar and strong coffee notes do fit in with the style.

    Looks like a fun beer.
    bgjohnston likes this.
  19. cgg

    cgg Oct 17, 2010 Alaska

    Looks good to me. If tinkering is wanted, I'd dump the black patent and the rice hulls. With beer recipes, I find the less is more idea to be sound.
  20. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    I 2nd what everybody said about the Marris Otter in place of the American 2-row. I brewed an imperial stout twice this summer, substituting one for the other, and the MO malt produced a higher initial gravity and a more profound flavor compared to the 2-row. There were no other changes between batches, not even FG.
    FATC1TY likes this.
  21. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    I like the idea of adding MO to this beer. I think I will swap out some of the base malt for it.

    Thanks for the suggestions!
    Duff27 likes this.
  22. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Feb 12, 2012 Georgia
    Moderator Subscriber Beer Trader

    Agreed.. I personally find that the MO will give a bit better efficiency as well. I can't explain why, haven't cared to find out why, or if it's just me, but thats been the case. Gives a great canvas for something good to take place.

    I have an IPA that runs around 7.5/8% that is a base of MO, Vienna and Munich and it's a great easy base.
  23. mjryan

    mjryan Dec 22, 2007 Minnesota

    I like the idea of oats and rye. Never thought of that. Spec B kicks ass in stouts. Also, Simpsons Chocolate Malt is the kittens mittens, much preferred over the domestic Choco Malts I've had. Marris Otter for at least some of the base is another idea I endorse.
  24. JayS2629

    JayS2629 Oct 23, 2010 Alabama

    personal opinion: Drop the black patent. Also, I prefer to balance the roast and chocolate to the same amount. Just a personal taste and how I view balance. Also, add a little crystal of some kind.
  25. Biffster

    Biffster Mar 29, 2004 Michigan

    Looks like a great recipe to me. That would make a great beer.

    Observations based on my experience (and if you already know any of this, please accept my apologies):

    I'd lose the rice hulls if I was brewing it on my system, but I don't have a stuck mash issue on my system, and a 15 gal tun for pretty much any five gallon recipe has more than enough room, so it cant hurt. I would say that stuck mashes typically come from lack of filtration from using larger percentages of grain with no hulls like wheat, not from just using a lot of husked malted grain. With a taller column of grain to get through, it'll be a slower lauter no matter what, and adding the husks will add to the height of the mash and maybe slow the speed of the lauter, but YMMV.

    Love the special B and the rye - great idea on the rye. This is one of the few non-Belgian beers where a large amount of special B works. It'll give you more raisin character than raisins will, in my experience. I'd add more oats for the mouthfeel, for what it's worth.

    Many have suggested Maris in place of the 2 row. Good idea. I might also suggest some Munich or Vienna (I'd pick Vienna). Also, the style calls for a really burnt tar like character, but you don't list that as a want in your desired profile. That's fine - its your beer. If you want an intense chocolately coffee roasty flavor without the intense burnt flavor, consider getting some of the dark from one of the dehusked carafa malts.

    With most beers styles, I've found that a long malt bill seems to get "noisy" (if that makes sense), but this is a style that is supposed to be complex and intense, so don't be afraid to use 7, 8 or 9 different grains in your malt bill.

    Don't sweat it too much - it'll be great. But with a good yeast pitch, the primary will be violent, so be prepared. I primary in 6.5 gallon carboys, and I have to use a blowoff tube instead of an airlock for beers that big.

    Good luck and Cheers!
  26. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    Made a few slight tweaks to the recipe based on all the feedback mentioned. I'm not sure if I want all the base malt to be MO, but here it is with all MO.

    Original Gravity: 1.115 (1.075 - 1.115)
    Terminal Gravity: 1.029 (1.018 - 1.030)
    Color: 40.47 (30.0 - 40.0)
    Alcohol: 11.58% (8.0% - 12.0%)
    Bitterness: 79.5 (50.0 - 90.0)

    21.0 lb Maris Otter
    1.5 lb Special B Malt
    1.5 lb Roasted Barley
    1 lb American Chocolate Malt
    .75 lb Oats Flaked
    0.5 lb Rye Flaked
    0.5 lb Crystal Malt 80°L
    0.25 lb British Black Patent
    1.0 lb Rice Hulls
    0.25 lb Molasses
    1 oz Columbus (15.0%) - added during boil, boiled 60 m
    1.0 oz Chinook (13.0%) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 m
  27. bgjohnston

    bgjohnston Jan 14, 2009 Connecticut

    I once did a combination of Golden Promise and Crisp Ale malt and that was nice, so if you don't want all of it MO, that's cool.
  28. barfdiggs

    barfdiggs Mar 22, 2011 California

    Ditto to the above post. I've done a couple recent IPAs and stouts split with 30% MO and 60% US 2-row Pale and its worked nicely.

    If you're a Surly Darkness fan, its made with both US Pale 2-row and golden promise base malt... as are a bunch of their other beers (Furious and Abrasive GP/US Pale, Bitter Brewer Optic/US Pale).
  29. willandperry

    willandperry Sep 15, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    ISO: maxspang whiskey oak cube soaked imperial stout(pre)
    FT:my whiskey oak chip soaked imperial stout
  30. kjyost

    kjyost May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    FYI I have a sack of Golden Promise & Canadian 2-Row. I asked HB42 about his recipe from the old forum, and asked if I should use the GP or Cdn. He suggested saving the GP for bitters, as it would get lost in the grainbill of a RIS.
  31. JimSmetana

    JimSmetana May 11, 2012 Illinois


    Was wondering how this came out for you?

    Was looking into something similar.:D
  32. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Jan 28, 2011 Ohio

    Haven't brewed it yet. I should hopefully be brewing it within the next few months.
  33. ericj551

    ericj551 Apr 29, 2004 Alberta (Canada)

    While we're digging up an old thread, have you considered replacing some of the chocolate malt with coffee malt? I think that might help you get some of the coffee like flavor you're looking for without actually adding coffee.
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