Friday evening brew session! Today I'm brewing an Imperial Stout based on Weldwerks' Achromatic recipe. I was planning on brewing this beer back on Big Brew Day, but we ended up working on finishing up some yard projects...but I digress.
A few buddies and I recently traveled to Colorado to drop off entries for the AHA's National Homebrew Competition. Long story short, I talked them into a 500+ mile road trip to hand deliver competition entries, after which we'd visit a few tasting rooms; it really didn't take a lot of convincing. I was a little worried because we were set to arrive in Louisville, CO on the last day for drop-offs; if we ran into unexpected traffic, got a flat tire, whatever, we risked missing the 4:30pm deadline.
We ended up leaving my house a little before 6AM, made incredible time, and arrived at the drop-off location at 1pm. Turns out that a car full of dudes needs fewer bathroom stops compared to family road trips.
I'd also arranged to pick up a sack of Root Shoot Pilsner Malt, but that wasn't supposed to happen until closer to 4pm, so we had no other choice than to grab a bite to eat while visiting some tap rooms. On Friday we went to Odd13, Left Hand, Purpose, and Maxline. On Saturday, we hit Odell, Wiley Roots, and Weldwerks. It was a great trip especially after a year of COVID isolation.
As you can probably guess, I got to try some of Weldwerks Achromatic Stouts (which were amazing...especially the Coconut Achromatic) and after realizing I hadn't brewed an Imperial Stout for some time, I decided to brew this one one today. This recipe is based on the one published in Beer & Brewing which comes directly from Weldwerks head brewer, Neil Fisher. I've adjusted the grain amounts to account for my system efficiency and what was available locally.
Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. I was planning on brewing this as a 5 gallon batch, then decided to scale it up to 10. The original recipe called for WLP001/A07, but I decided to do a split batch with half going on A07 and the other half on A01. Deviating from the published recipe, I'm cold steeping the dark malts; this can help ensure a smooth roast character in the finished beer rather than a harsher acrid roast character.
10 gallon batch
27.25# Mecca Grade Lamonta
1.75# Simpsons Chocolate Malt (*cold steeped)
1.75# Weyermanns Chocolate Rye Malt (*cold steeped)
1.75# Crisp Pale Chocolate Malt (*cold steeped)
1.75# Simpsons DRC
1.375# Simpsons Light Crystal
1.375# Flaked Oats
0.375# Simpsons Roasted Barley (*cold steeped)
Imperial A07 Flagship (5 gallons)
Imperial A01 House (5 gallons)
84g Magnum (FWH)
Mash at 153F, collect ~12.33 gallons pre-boil volume (assuming boil-off rate of ~1.16 gallons/hour), 120 minute boil. Start fermentation at 60F, ramping up to 65F over 5 days.
Note: This recipe is based on the Chocolate Achromatic Stout, but I'm considering doing a Coconut variant. For the Chocolate version (5 gallons), add 8oz of roasted cacao nibs and one vanilla bean after fermentation is complete. Leave cacao in for 1-3 days (taste daily) and remove when desired character is achieved. Leave the vanilla bean in for 2-3 weeks then transfer for packaging.
No issues. The gravity came in right between 1.101 and 1.102, so only a couple points short of target. Mash pH started out about 5.4 and I used about 4.5ml of phosphoric acid to drop it closer to 5.2. I ended up with about 4.75 gallons in each fermenter. I aerated for 2 minutes at 0.5l/m before pitching yeast. If I'm not seeing active signs of fermentation in the morning, I'll probably hit it with another dose of oxygen. The wort tasted amazing.
Update 5/15/2021 7:50AM
Both fermenters are showing active signs of fermentation with a glug about once every 5-14 seconds, so I'm going to skip additional oxygen this morning.
Update 5/16/2021 1:45PM
Fermentation seems to be rolling right along. The A01 half was actually blowing yeast off this morning.
Update 5/17/2021 10:00AM
As of this morning, I've had to dump my blowoff reservoir three times on the A01 half due to a very active fermentation. I actually held off on ramping up the temperature because it was so active, but I'm ramping up to 63F today on both fermenters.
I kegged both versions a little over a week ago. There are definitely noticeable differences between the two. The A01 House is a little smoother with a rounder roast character. The A07 Flagship definitely accentuates the roast character more. I didn't expect the yeast to have any impact on the roast, so this was interesting. Both versions have some residual sweetness, but neither is cloying. I decided to dose the A01 half with chocolate and Tahitian vanilla beans (2) and I ended up doing it as a tincture since I've had really good results in my Golden Milk Stout with tinctures.
I entered both the Cacao/Vanilla and TX Bourbon versions in a local comp (Utah Brew Fest Homebrew Competition). The TX Bourbon version took a silver medal for American Imperial Stout and the Cacao/Vanilla version took Bronze for Spice, Herb, Vegetable Beer.