Really beer and coffee are the two fundamental building blocks of any great team. And by their power's combined they form one of my favorite beers to make, Demon Roast Imperial Stout. This coffee infused adult malted beverage is full flavored with a rich dark color and carries a strong aroma of coffee and roasted malts to the nose. Properly brewed and aged this beer will leave nice thick legs on the glass and have a silky smooth taste. Not only does this beer finish in the 8.5% ABV range, but it also contains a gallon of high quality coffee.
This instructable is not about the differences between all grain and extract brewing or the pluses and minuses to doing either one. I prefer extract brewing because I feel it is a simpler process and leaves less to chance.
Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
The most important ingredient in beer and coffee is actually the water. Water provides the majority of the flavor profile for both drinks. If your water tastes bad or isn't suitable to drink then it really isn't suitable to make beer or coffee with. Either run your water through a filter or use bottled spring water. Do not use distilled water as it will require adding minerals and adjusting the pH balance of the water, which is far beyond the scope of this Instructable.
The coffee should be freshly ground and if possible freshly roasted as well. This recipe uses a signature roast called Demon Roast from one of the best coffee shops in the world, Prime Roast in downtown Keene, NH. Demon Roast is a dark bold flavored coffee with no trace of bitterness or heavy tannins, a perfect addition to a beer! I prefer to purchase my ingredients from my local home brew supply store, Microbe Brewers' Supply in Brattleboro, VT.
- ~8 Gallons of water
- Demon Roast Coffee (or your favorite fresh ground beans)
- 3lb Light DME (Dry Malt Extract)
- 6lb Dark DME
- .25lb Dark Crystal Grain Malt
- .25lb Roasted Barley Grain
- .5lb Chocolate Grain Malt
- 1 Oz Nugget Hops
- .5 Oz Cascade Hops
- Ale Yeast (I prefer Wyeast Pacman but any hearty ale yeast should do)
- 3-5 Oz of Toasted Oak Powder (or toasted oak chips)
- Priming Sugar if using bottles
- French Press (or cold press, no drip pots here!)
- Stock Pot that can hold at least 4 gallons (7 gallons is better)
- Long metal spoon or other stirring implement
- Fermenting Bucket with airlock
- Secondary fermentor
- Siphon tubing
- Bottles or Keg System
- Hop Spider
- Wort Chiller
Step 2: Optional: Yeast Starter
This Step has multiple Steps to it. As it is optional and in order to keep the Instructable short I condensed them here.
If you're going to use liquid yeast or washed yeast from a previous batch you should make a yeast starter, if you are using a dry yeast you do not have to make a starter. The starter will wake your yeast up and make sure they are strong enough and that there are enough active yeast cells to turn your wort into beer. The starter should be prepared about a day ahead of actually brewing the beer but can be used up to two days after being prepared.
- .5lb DME (doesn't really matter the kind, I stick with light DME)
- Ale Yeast (As mentioned earlier I prefer Pacman)
- ~5 cups of water
- Metal Pot
- Growler or suitable flask
- Aluminum foil
- Boil ~5 cups of water.
- Add DME and stir until completely dissolved.
- Allow to cool until temperature is below 90 Degrees F.
- Pour DME into container.
- Pour Liquid Yeast into the container.
- Lightly cover top with foil.
- Gently whirl the container to mix up yeast and DME slurry.
- Place container in warm area (65F-72F) for 24-48 hours.
Step 3: Clean and Sanitize
I typically use bleach and water to sanitize my bottles but inside my fermentors, kegs, and siphon lines I use PBW.
Just make sure to clean everything that is going to touch your beer, you will never truly sterilize your equipment or work area but you can sanitize it so that unwanted organisms do not grow.
Step 4: Steep Grains
Bring 5 gallons of water to 160 degrees F. You do not want to go any hotter than 160F as that will release tannins that will give your beer a bitter astringent flavor and will be a most unpleasant drinking experience.
If your pot is not big enough to hold 5 gallons heat as much as you can but make sure you leave an inch or two of headspace. You will need to be able to heat at least 3 gallons to effectively dissolve the malt extracts. But the closer to 5 gallons you get the better your beer will taste.
Put your specialty grains inside a grain bag or muslin bag then place this bag in the hot water. Steep this bag as you would tea and allow to sit for 30 Minutes at 160F.
After the grains have steeped for 30 minutes remove them from the pot and allow the water to drain out of the bag back into the pot. There is a great debate over whether you should squeeze the water out or simply allow the water to drain out on its own. Some say squeezing the bag releases more tannins and starches from the grains and will add to the bitterness. Some say you should be getting every drop of water out of the bag that you can to make the most of the grains. I say that bag is freaking hot and I'm not squeezing it.
Step 5: Bring to Boil and Add DME
After the water has boiled turn off the heat and add 1lb of Light DME and 2lbs of Dark DME. Watch out for a boilover, this is why it is important to have an inch or two of head space in your pot.
Continually stir this mixture until completely dissolved and return to a boil.
Step 6: Add Flavor Hops
Nugget hops are used as the flavor hops in this beer. The malts and high ABV of this beer will mostly overpower the hops, they will take a back seat to this beer's flavor profile.
Add 1oz of Nugget hops to the spider or directly into the boil and boil for 45 minutes.
Step 7: Optional: Wort Chiller
A wort chiller decreases the amount of time it takes for your wort to cool. This allows you to pitch your yeast sooner and speed up your brew day.
The larger the pot you have the better as it can get pretty crowded with a wort chiller, hop spider, thermometer and still have room to stir with your spoon.
Step 8: Add Remaing DME and Hops
The Cascade hops are the Aroma hops and will provide the noise of the beer.
Boil the Cascade Hops for 15 minutes then remove from heat.
Step 9: Cool the Wort
If you used a hop spider take it out and set it aside to clean later.
If you do not have a wort chiller you can cool your wort by putting the pot in a sink and filling the sink with ice and cold water. If you continually stir the wort while in the ice water bath it will help it cool faster.
If you are using a wort chiller attach it to your water source and cool it down until you hit about 90F.
Step 10: Pour Wort Into Fermenting Bucket
Now pour the wort into your fermenting bucket. You will probably have to add water to make up for what you boiled off and to reach the 5 gallon mark. I like to bring the water level right up to the 5.25 gallon mark on my bucket.
By adding cold water your wort should be below 80F, if everything went right this should put you at the perfect temperature to pitch your yeast.
Step 11: Optional: Measure Gravity
A hydrometer allows you to measure the starting gravity of your wort. Using the Original Gravity (OG) and Final Gravity (FG) you will be able to calculate the alcohol content of your beer.
Knowing the OG and FG also allows you to know when fermentation is complete and your beer is ready to rack for bottling.
This wort has an OG of 1.084 which is right on target for an Imperial Stout.
Step 12: Add Yeast and Wait.
Attach the airlock to the cover and tightly place the cover on the fermenting bucket. Pour some water into the airlock and set the bucket in a warm, out of the way place like a closet. You should try to keep the temperature of the bucket between 60F-70F.
If it gets too cold your yeast will not be able to fully ferment the beer and will die off, if it gets too warm you will get off flavors in your beer.
You should see activity in the airlock in 3-4 hours, though I have seen activity in as little as 1 hour before. Once you start seeing the bubbles basically forget about it for 3 weeks.
Step 13: Optional: Measure Final Gravity
If you took an Original Gravity reading after 3 week you can take another reading. For this style of beer you want to be in the 1.018-1.020 range. If your beer has not reached this yet you will want to check it again in a few days. If you find that your fermentation is not dropping and staying higher in the 1.060 range your fermentation may be stuck. If this happens you can stir it to rouse the yeast and increase the temperature a couple of degrees where you are storing your fermenting bucket. This will help wake up the yeast if they are dormant and hopefully they will start fermenting again. If after a few days your gravity reading has not changed you may need to pitch another batch of yeast.
This FG is 1.018.
Beer math is (OG-FG) * 131.25 = ABV.
So (1.084-1.018)131.25 = 8.7%ABV
Step 14: Prepare the Coffee and Oak
I do not have a coffee grinder so I buy my coffee coarse ground for a french press...
These next two flavors are highly personal by taste. I really like coffee so I add a gallon of it. When you add it you may want to use more or less depending on taste. You can add some a little bit at a time and try your beer as you go.
- Boil some water and allow to cool slightly below boiling. Do not add boiling water to your coffee, 200F or less.
- Take your freshly ground coffee and make up 1 gallon of strong coffee. My french press only does 8 cups at a time so you may need to make a couple of batches.
- Set aside in a covered container and allow to cool completely.
- Place oak chips in a container, I used about 3ozs but you can put more if you like.
- Pour your favorite brand of whiskey (or whisky) over the chips.
- Cover the container and allow them to soak.
Step 15: Transfer Beer to Secondary
After the beer has transfered to your secondary fermenter add the coffee and oak chips. Just pour it all into the bucket.
Place the cover and an airlock on the bucket and let it rest for at least 2 Weeks, longer if you want your beer to extract more of the oak and coffee flavors.
Step 16: Bottle or Keg
If using bottles you will need about 55 cleaned and capable bottles. No screw tops. There is a good Instructable here on how to bottle: How to Bottle Home Brew. A good way to store all of these glass bottles out of the light for long periods of time is in Wooden Beer Crates!
The other option is to use kegs to bulk age your beer. I feel that filling 1 large bottle is a lot easier than filling 55 small bottles.
The down side to a kegging system (if there is such a thing) is that you will need to force carbonate your beer using a co2 tank. This is not a hard process but does require a little More Equipment.
An Imperial Stout is meant to be aged for a long period of time, 3-12+ months. The longer it ages the more complex the flavors will become.