As a christmas present I revived an imperial stout kit from Brewer's best from my wife. I really wanted to get some stouts out this winter as it has been way to cold. I love the stouts and porters this time of year, especially the warmer ones such as Surly's Darkness.
However, I was a little bit disappointed with the base ingredients and body as I went through the racking process.
This 'ible will take you through my personally journal to find just the right mix of ingredients.
Step 1: First Taste
I love the aroma of wort boiling. It's like a good soup, just makes you feel warm. I was surprised by the great color and thickness at this stage and was really looking forward to the final product.
Step 2: First Rerack
When first racking it into the carboy, I tasted the wort and was a little bit disappointed, however I felt it wasn't fair yet to judge it. I let the wort sit for two weeks and was about to re-rack it to get rid of the sediment and decided to taste it again. At the same time I took a Hydrometer reading. I was expecting something along the lines of the 6% at this stage, however as you can see it only reads about 4%. Mind you I broke my hydrometer the first time, so I wasn't able to calibrate it, but this was much lower then anticipated.
I decided that I needed some changes. First off I want to remind everyone, sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Whenever you are moving wort around, make sure you have anything touching it sanitized. I use star-san. Additionally, I have a spray bottle with water and bleach that I use to wipe down all surfaces (including the floor), just in case of accidental contact.
Worried about screwing up the original brew, I removed a growlers worth at this stage and put the rest in my second carboy.
1. In your secondary, after removing sentiment, add half a bag of coco-nibs and 1 spiral medium toasted oak spiral. This will provide you with a chocolate/caramel flavor to the brew. Let your oak and coco soak overnight in whiskey to sterilize them. This will also draw out some of the flavor.
Note about oak spirals and carboys. Unfortunately spirals have a similar diameter as the carboy neck. Easy to get in but tough to get out. In retrospect I wish I would have broken it up more to make it easier to remove. And coco-nibs are just the right size to block your racking cane. It may be beneficial to place the coco-nibs in a teabag, coffee filter, or crush them more to prevent this.
2. Wait another week or so. You shouldn't have too much sentiment in the bottom at this stage, but you may want to rerack the majority anyway. Remove another growlers worth of beer.
3. Add about 1/2 - 1 cup of molasses. This will give you a huge boost in body and add that additional warmth to your tummy.
4. Wait another week. At this point your wort has had 3-4 weeks of fermenting. You are going to want to try a little and should indulge. Remove your last growler's worth.
5. Remove all of your remaining wort and add it to your primary carboy. Clean out the secondary, including the coco-nibs and oak spirals.
6. Siphon 1/2 of your wort back into your secondary after it has been cleaned.
7. Hopefully, you have remembered to take two containers and the rest of your coco-nibs and oak spirals to them with a little bit of whiskey. Let them sit over night.
8. Add the rest of your coco-nibs to the first carboy and your other oak spiral, broken up, into the second. Wait another week or two, coming around occasionally to swirl around the contents (and sniff and drool).
9. It is now time to bottle. Remember, sanitize, sanitize, and sanitize.
Note: When reusing old bottles you may want to clean them up. Letting a bottle soak in a little bit of soap and water overnight usually will be enough for the label to come loose. Use a little bit of "cheap" vegetable oil to remove the remaining glue.
10. At this stage we now have five different flavor of beer, with different gravities, but we also have five different volumes. The next step is to add the priming sugar. You will need to boil about a cup of sugar for 5 gallons.
- Using a string and tape measure, measure the circumference
- Measure the fluid height
- Use: Volume = (Circ^2 x height) / (4 x pi) to find the proportion sizes. In the end for me, 40% went in the tall carboy, 25% in the small, and about 10% in each of the growlers.
Unfortunately my beer will not be ready until 2/17. I'm waiting with gleeful anticipation or dreaded sorrow, only time will tell. In the end I''ll announce to the world what is better:
- A base imperial stout
- A stout with a hint of Caramel and Chocolate
- A heavy body stout with a hint of Caramel and Chocolate
- A Chocolate Heavy Body Stout
- A Caramel Heavy Body Stout
Only time will tell. Thank you for reading my post about this little experimenting. Hopefully my next will better laid out and more entertaining. Next time I'll try to think up some puns.