Author Topic: The perfect Imperial Stout  (Read 5880 times)

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
The perfect Imperial Stout
« on: February 13, 2016, 05:41:49 PM »
I have a slew of questions.  Now that I am on brew #11 tomorrow, Belgian Pale Ale.  I am looking at next Christmas, as a gift, making some Imperial Russian Stouts.  IT IS ALSO GOING TO BE MY FIRST ALL GRAIN!  I gifted a sweet chocolate stout and a Belgian Holiday Ale this past holiday.  The sweet stout was a hit, so I want to give another shot.  As a starting point to a great Imperial Stout I like (and you can hate on it if you want) is Three Floyds Dark Lord.  I have been at Dark Lords Day 3x in the past 5 years, and loved it every year.  Hoping to balance the sweetness, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee a little bit better to make it more approachable.  Although I want to be in the atleast 12.5%-15% ABV and I have a few questions to everyone on this forum.

So trying to dial in to the aspects of an Imperial Russian Stout:

How dark is too dark? My Water(Indiana hard water so [I need to get tested], All RO? with salts added?), pH (5.5-5.6?), Mash temps(155f-158F), Hops? (I am thinking Magnum and NB), Yeasts? Denny's Favorite 50? American Whiskey? London Ale? Cali? US-05? Combinations?  How long to age? I was thinking about boiling Cocao Knibs and powder and Aging on Vanilla Beans.  Undecided about oak chips or not, I think rum soaked oak chips would add a ton of character but I really am undecided about adding anything else to this already complex beer style.  Dark Lord uses Mexican Chocolate, no idea if it is spiced chocolate or not, coffee (I am thinking espresso roast), and Indian Sugar (I was gunna stick to Dark brown sugar).  Nothing is set in stone because I don't think I am going to try and brew this up for another month.  So now comes the research.

About my 5th look at a recipe I am playing with, I am on 3 base malts, 3 dark malts, and 2 crystal malts.  Not a fan of the recipes I have found online.  The one Dark Lord Clone I found seems to be off by my perception, and looking for advise.  I seem to remember reading that these beers are darkened with Roasted Barley, Chocolate, and Black Patent.  I even kicked around the thought of midnight wheat in place of the roasted barley, but I don't know if it would replace the roasted bitterness appropriately.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline HoosierBrew

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 13030
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2016, 05:51:24 PM »
Just me - RO water, minerals per Brunwater black Balanced profile, mash 148F for 90 mins @5.6 pH, WY1450. Midnight wheat isn't a good sub for roasted barley - it has the least roast character of any malt. I like chocolate malt and roasted barley to be around 10% of the grist. Color should be ~ 30-40 SRM. A lb of flaked oats is really nice in this one. If you brew a 12% beer like you mention, it should be really good at a year old. Hope this helps.
Jon H.

Offline fmader

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1675
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2016, 06:12:23 PM »
I'm going to suggest, since this is your first all grain batch, to brew something simpler first so you can understand your system a bit better. You're going to have a good bit of money and time invested in this beer. With a beer this big, you'll want to mash at 148 for about 90 minutes. If you mash it at 156 like you're suggesting, your FG will be high and it will be like drinking roasted motor oil. 5.6 is a good mash pH. You can also assume that you're efficiency is going to be low. I can get 75% efficiency with a 1.080 beer, but it drops to about 60% at a 1.100 beer and you're looking to go higher than that. Don't sub midnight wheat in here. I'd go 60% two row, 20-25% Munich and use the other 15-20 % between crystals and roast malts. If lad suggest getting your IBUs up around 60 since this will be aged. Any yeast you suggested is good as long as you have a monster starter. 001, 007, 013, 028, or 1450 will be fine.. Or a combo of any of them. Start fermentation in the low 60s and let it ride after initial fermentation. If you're going to age on vanilla, I wouldn't oak it. I'd go with one or the other just so the taste is more easily controlled. Also have it so you can taste it and remove the vanilla when you get it where you want it.

Also, make sure your mash tun can hold the grain and water you'll need to mash. I'm assuming that you're looking at a 1.120 OG. You're going to need nearly 30 lb of grain for a 5.5 gallon batch. I just brewed a 1.100 RIS a few weeks ago. It was an 11 gallon batch. 52 lbs of grain and 16 gallons of water filled a 100 qt. cooler. I actually had to put a ratchet strap around it so the walls could support the weight.

Good luck, man. Normally, I say brew whatever you want for your first batch, because this is America! But this is a busy, complex, intimidating beer. But if you can pull it off, everything else will seem like a breeze.
Frank

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2016, 06:19:59 PM »
I am committed to going AG to this beer.  I have been really pushing past the limits of the term "partial" mashing for 100% of my beers.  I have only been using DME for starters and a fail safe to conversions.  I have no problem getting the 70+% efficiency out of 10lbs of grain and still using it as a "partial" mashing.  While getting the needed conversions out of the base malts.  HoosierBrew, I was thinking of RO and salts, but with the hard water we have here in Indiana anyway I did not know if I could 50/50 it or if you would go 100% RO.  I figured a filtered version of what we get out of tap might be alright with such a dark beer.

also do you use black patent at all in your recipes?
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline fmader

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1675
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2016, 06:30:48 PM »
I am committed to going AG to this beer.  I have been really pushing past the limits of the term "partial" mashing for 100% of my beers.  I have only been using DME for starters and a fail safe to conversions.  I have no problem getting the 70+% efficiency out of 10lbs of grain and still using it as a "partial" mashing.  While getting the needed conversions out of the base malts.  HoosierBrew, I was thinking of RO and salts, but with the hard water we have here in Indiana anyway I did not know if I could 50/50 it or if you would go 100% RO.  I figured a filtered version of what we get out of tap might be alright with such a dark beer.

also do you use black patent at all in your recipes?

Don't take what I said the wrong way. I'm impressed that you're making this jump. I just wanted to throw it out there. Are you batch sparging in a cooler? You won't get 70%+ efficiency with this thick of a grain bed. I wouldn't assume anything higher than 60% when creating your recipe. You can easily assume 75-80% efficiency when you brew a beer in the 1.060-1.070 range.
Frank

Offline HoosierBrew

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 13030
  • Indianapolis,IN
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2016, 06:32:30 PM »
I am committed to going AG to this beer.  I have been really pushing past the limits of the term "partial" mashing for 100% of my beers.  I have only been using DME for starters and a fail safe to conversions.  I have no problem getting the 70+% efficiency out of 10lbs of grain and still using it as a "partial" mashing.  While getting the needed conversions out of the base malts.  HoosierBrew, I was thinking of RO and salts, but with the hard water we have here in Indiana anyway I did not know if I could 50/50 it or if you would go 100% RO.  I figured a filtered version of what we get out of tap might be alright with such a dark beer.

also do you use black patent at all in your recipes?



I use all RO for my beers, it's just a good base to build from, especially in Indiana. I use black patent on occasion, but mostly in porter. No reason you couldn't use some though. Like I said I like to keep the roasted grains at but not over 10%, with ideally half of that as chocolate malt. 
Jon H.

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2016, 06:53:22 PM »
I am getting much higher SRM at 9.26% chocolate 4.63% and roasted barley 4.63%.  I am showing 47.9srm with a base of Golden Promise and Maris Otter mix 8.25lbs each at 38.19%, then brown sugar, crystal 40 and carabrown/brown malt, unsure about the brown malt.  But I would assume in the traditional Russian Imperial Stouts brown malt would have been used, and the newer carabrown would add the toasted caramel flavors well.

Yeah batch sparging in a cooler is what I have in my setup now.  No good sparge arm for fly sparging.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2016, 07:48:08 PM »
So my recipe:

Planning on 65% efficiency 5 gallon batch [61.4]IBU BU:GU[0.5]
OG 1.112
FG 1.020
ABV 13.3%
SRM 51.8

33.6% Golden Promise
33.6% Maris Otter Pale
7.9% Brown Sugar
5.9% CaraBrown
5.9% Crystal 40L
4.3% Chocolate
4.3% Roasted Barley
4.5% Flaked Wheat
« Last Edit: March 21, 2016, 06:29:45 PM by JJeffers09 »
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline 69franx

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3125
  • Bloatarian Brewing League
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2016, 07:57:17 PM »
As said above by others, I think you need to lower your expected efficiency even further. When u make my 1.100 nut brown ale, I usually shoot for 55-58% and have gotten as high as 62. Good luck and take good notes
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works:

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2016, 02:52:59 PM »
what should the qt:water be? 1.2?  And should I be using a no sparge method?  In such a large mashtun and shooting for 5 gallons of wort and mash volume is over 11 gallons
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline 69franx

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3125
  • Bloatarian Brewing League
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2016, 12:35:07 AM »
My brew for this weekend targets 1.14qt/gallon strike water and yields roughly equal runnings for a 6 gallon batch. Many thanks to Sean Terrill and his batch sparge calculator found at http://seanterrill.com/2013/10/05/batch-sparging-calculator/
for helping me hopefully get what I need to out of my mashtun to get to the target OG of 1.100. I will be doing a 2 hour boil to get a little more rinsed out of my grist and develop a little more color in my wort. This ratio of water was his suggestion in my earlier thread on the subject found here: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=24885.msg318466#msg318466
good luck to you and fingers crossed for me
 ;D
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg: Märzen
In Bottles:  
In the works:

Offline weiht

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2016, 07:52:13 AM »
I think it's safer to put ur efficiency to 55-60%.. It's better to under estimate and get a stronger wort for a impy stout, rather than end up with 1078-1084 when you wanted it closer to 1.100 (Example). Really depends on how much you are going to sparge and run off, and are you prepared for 3-4hrs boiling down or boiling it in 2 separate pot to reduce it.

I think another good starting point would be looking to buy UK roasted malt. The intensity of flavours like the coffee, chocolate, dark crystals are alot more pronounced.

lastly I think 1.020 is a little too low and thin for a RIS. I prefer to aim close to 1.030 because RIS is a nice sipping beer, not something where i wanna drink a full glass in a quick time.
Don't take it personal, there will be people who dislike your beer!!

Offline mpietropaoli

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2016, 04:15:17 PM »
I would not go no-sparge.  You want to get all the sugar you can into the kettle.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

Bubblin': helles
Flowin': IIPA, Doppelbock, Flanders
Sittin': More Flanders, Braison,
Thinkin': wit, more helles

Offline JJeffers09

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1126
    • View Profile
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2016, 03:45:30 PM »
I am looking at no sparge which would include 20% more grain, but the $$ of this beer is going up every time I look at it.  I am possibly going to a smaller batch and doing a 3 hour boil.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

AHA Member
Indiana Brewers Union (IBU)

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3194
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: The perfect Imperial Stout
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2016, 05:04:33 PM »
If you're thinking of using the same adjuncts as Dark Lord I believe it uses Mexican vanilla rather than chocolate.

I am also in the camp encouraging you to set your efficiency expectations lower. I assume the brown sugar will be a kettle addition so your gravity in the mash won't be quite as high as what you have predicted for OG but it's still a high number. Sparging with a larger volume and boiling longer may help improve efficiency but watch out for those runnings getting too low on gravity.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing