How to brew a big beer - Russian Imperial Stout

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by ChicoBrewer, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #1 ChicoBrewer, Oct 14, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
    I have been planning a Russian imperial stout for a while now and this is an outline of my plan and statements regarding my discovery.

    Major source for my discovery was this John Palmer Podcast however there are others as well.

    Here is the stout recipe I am working on.
    The major problem here is obvious. "How do you get such a high gravity wort using home brewing equipment"? I have decided that chasing efficiency is futile. The answer is more base malt. I payed close attention to my efficiency numbers last Sunday when I brewed a pale ale. This is my fifth batch of this recipe. I batch sparge in a ten gallon igloo and I got 67% brew day efficiency. Here are the particulars.

    • My strike volume was 4.7 gallons
    • my mash temp was 153 for 60 minutes.
    • I tested with iodine and the conversion was done.
    • I added 1.8 gallons of boiling water to mash-out at 168 and held it for ten minutes
    • I drained to the kettle
    • I added another 2.7 gallons of sparge water at 170F stirred it and drained to kettle
    • I stirred the wort and took an SG reading. It was 1.044

    Capture 1.JPG

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    So the question now is how to adjust my efficiency with this stout recipe to get the 1.103 OG I am targeting.

    John Palmer gives the following tips for getting the most from the sparge and additionally how to still get the to the target OG without good efficiency.

    • Scale up the base malt by scaling down the efficiency - This strategy counts on knowing your potential efficiency which unfortunately has a direct relationship with the amount of malt in your mash tun :( I scaled the recipe from 67% BHE to 57% and that added 4lb of base malt totaling 23.5 lb of base malt and 29.5lb total malt. I hope it all fits in my mash tun, if not I'll likely have to add less strike water.
    • Add Rice Hulls - This could improve efficiency but probably not that much. Probably a good idea anyway to prevent a stuck sparge due to the sticky nature of a high gravity mash
    • Add an adjunct - This is probably the most effective rout. I'll have DME on hand.

    The second and not so obvious problem is attenuation with such high gravity and ABV. High gravity and high alcohol put stress on our little yeast friends. The solution here again thanks to John is a good starter. Should the fermentation become stuck don't just dump in more yeast dump in another starter. This gives the wort active healthy yeast on the second pitch (if needed).

    Now the last item I am pondering here. It would probably be worthwhile to make a second batch from the second running's. I'll give it a try and see how that goes. Second running porter? It would be interesting to try to change the flavor profile a bit with the second running but I think I'll stick to simple the first time.


    I am looking to have this brew day next Sunday. I would appreciate any advice especially from those who have brewed a high gravity/ABV beer like this one.
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Make sure you aereate it well before pitching
     
  4. philjohnwilliams

    philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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    Yes, to get that kind of high OG your efficiency is going to be terrible. Batch sparging is the way to go here because when you collect your first runnings, that is the wort to use for your beer. If you sparge your grain and add that to the first runnings, you will be diluting the wort in the kettle. You will still have sugar left in the grain, so you can sparge but collect that wort in a different kettle and use it to make a smaller beer. This would have been standard practice in many breweries on the past for making beers of different gravities, use the first runnings for the highest gravity beer and make smaller beers from the runnings after that. I hope this makes sense.
     
  5. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #5 ChicoBrewer, Oct 14, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
    Thanks to you both,

    @Ozarks Mountain Brew - I have quaffed quite a lot of Guinness in my life. I can't say I am particularly fond of it as stouts go. Seems it needs nitrogen to give it any fun (it's fun watching the foam appear to rise down instead of up). I thought it was good until I tried an Obsidian. I'm looking for more flavor. That black IPA does look interesting. I copied it so I could play with it a bit. Thanks!

    @jmcnamara - thanks for that. It got me to thinking. I'll probably not do a brew day with this one next week. I need to get some equipment to make a good starter. I went and messed with the yeast pitch calculator and decided I can't possibly get enough cells without one. Also - I currently use a hand drill and a stirring rod (think paint stirrer) to aerate wort. Keeping in mind that I know it's "better", Is oxygen and a bubble stone something that I need in my arsenal for big beers?
     
  6. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    @philjohnwilliams - yes it does make perfect sense and was one of the points in the podcast (adding second runnings will dilute the beer). That appears to mean I will need to remove the sparge step and add everything I want in thee kettle during the mash step? I do have a smaller kettle and a second burner so I will give the second runnings a try.
     
  7. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    So with that in mind I just realized there is no way I'm going to get 10.25 gallons of water and 26 lb of grain into a 10 gallon igloo lol.
     
  8. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    I listened to a podcast with Jamil Z about brewing big beers like RIS. One way is BIAB method. Basically mash, pull grain, and squeeze, remove grain. add more grain and mash in again in same pot. You can sparge your spent grains for another smaller beer. I've considered going this route.
     
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  9. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    You can do 2 separate mashes since it won't all fit in the cooler at once.
     
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  10. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I did a 3 sparge method to get mine done. Probably not the best way but it worked for a 10% RIS.
     
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  11. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Hmm I ran double mash at same time one normal BIAB and another BIAB in an old FV gravity feeding to direct heated kettle / tun and still got my normal effiency .
    Easily hit my target og of 1.100 and was 4 litres over volume
     
  12. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #12 ChicoBrewer, Oct 15, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
    Thanks Mark. What is "FV".? Fermenting vessel?
     
  13. philjohnwilliams

    philjohnwilliams Well-Known Member

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    Exactly, only first runnings into the kettle, and as Hogarthe said, you can simply do two mashes to reach your per boil volume.
     
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  14. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Yes Chicken.
    Same drum is my milling bucket and sparge rig
     
  15. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Another Palmer tip I'm planning to use next time is to not only aerate at pitching, but also aerate a little while later, just before the fermenation really kicks into gear. The wife bought the latest edition of How to Brew and it has an interesting few dozen pages on big beers.
     
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  16. uk_brewer

    uk_brewer Well-Known Member

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    Reiterated mash is going to help you get big beers with mash tun size limitations.
     
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  17. thunderwagn

    thunderwagn Well-Known Member

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    @ChicoBrewer did you brew your RIS? If so, how did it turn out? It's that time of year again...I'd love to drown my belly in Ten Fidy.
     
  18. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #18 ChicoBrewer, Dec 21, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
    Haven't done it yet. Been busy here since the fire. The hospital in paradise is no more. The clinics and skilled nursing facilities too. We are busy figuring out how to accommodate all of those lost Healthcare services in my hospital system. Along with that comes a lot of IT support.

    The specialty grains are in a jar waiting. I been thinking I should fire up the Kettle this weekend. If I do ill post the boil:)
     
  19. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Go for it. I can imagine the IT needs are big, ours were major and we didn't lose any of our buildings.
     
  20. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #20 ChicoBrewer, Dec 24, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
    Well the mash is done and the wort is boiling. Check the recipe in my sig. Took two mashes split the total 26.75 lb of grain. The dark grains smell delicious. I hit my mash temps and now I'm waiting to see if I it my OG.

    I have two Safale 05 sachets in two liters of DME spinning in the Erlenmeyer flask.

    Had to substitute the Challenger with Perl because the LHB doesn't have Challenger.

    Pictures will follow.
     

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