My first Imperial Stout

Discussion in 'Recipes for Feedback' started by gardnerg1988, Sep 25, 2015.

  1. gardnerg1988

    gardnerg1988 New Member

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    Hey brewmigos. I am about to brew my first imperial stout. I don't know why it has taken me this long to do it, I love stouts, I think I just am more comfortable in other areas because I know what works for what I have done. I was hoping for some advice and feedback for my recipe. Here it is: it should be a 5.5 gallon batch, all grain

    16 lb 2 Row (72%) 22 lb total
    1.75 lb Chocolate Malt (8%)
    1 lb Honey Gambrinus (4.5%)
    1 lb Crystal 80 (4.5%)
    .75 lb Carafa II (3.4%)
    .5 lb Carapils (2.3%)
    .5 lb White Wheat (2.3%)
    .5 lb Biscuit (2.3%)

    90 min boil
    2 oz Citra 90 min
    1 oz ? 10 min

    2 packets of White Labs Cali Ale WLP001

    Target calculated OG 1.107 and FG 1.027

    Single Step Mash at 153 for 60 minutes
    1.3 qt/lb water ratio
    7.5 gal strike water and 5 gal sparge water

    I have a few questions that I would love some insight on

    1) Does the grain bill look like it will work out well? Should I add more 2 row or maybe some roasted barley?
    2) Should I boil for 90 minutes or 2 hours? I hear longer boils work well for stouts

    I have had trouble in the past with big beers such as this when it comes to balancing sweetness with the hops,

    3) What should my hop variety be?
    4) How much should I use?
    5) Should I use aroma hops at all towards the end?

    I was thinking of adding lactose and I never have before

    6) How much should I use and when? (I don't want it to be extremely prominent)
    7) Do you think it may hurt the flavor of the beer?

    8) Will WLP001 Cali Ale Yeast work with this big of a beer?

    I was also thinking of adding vanilla bean

    9) How many beans to use and when?

    10) is 1.027 too high for FG?

    11) Is 1.3 qt/lb ratio good for this style?

    And I know Oskar Blues barely if at all sparges their ten fiddy to help with the style
    I would like to sparge with as little as possible instead of the 5 gal the calulator gave me

    12) What kind of strike and sparge water ratio should I use? and is this a good idea?

    bonus question

    I try to adjust my water the best I can but this is my first beer in a new city so I haven't dialed all that in yet
    I know dark grain will lower the pH on it's own and I believe the grain bill alone should put me at 5.8 pH or lower(hopefully lower). I do carbon filter all the water I use.

    I haven't gotten a detailed water report yet but here is what I have so far

    Calcium 32 (ppm or mg/l)
    Sulfate <25 (ppm or mg/l)
    Magnesium .008 (ppm or mg/l)
    Chloride 6 (ppm or mg/l)
    Sodium 4.2 (ppm or mg/l)
    pH 8 (ppm or mg/l)
    Total Alkalinity 24 (ppm or mg/l)

    Bonus) What if anything should I do to my water?
     
  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Phew, that's quite the question :)
    Just a few things, in no particular order:
    1. Id suggest going with an english yeast for a stout. I think wlp001 would let the hops shone through too much
    2. I dont think citra hops are for stouts. I love that hop, but ive never tried it in a darker beer. Seems like it would go agajnst the roastiness of a stout. Maybe some English hops would be better, or even northern brewer to go with your chocolate malt. As for the schedule, later additions would give more hop flavor and aroma, which shouldn't really be in a stout. I'd keep any hops additions to 30 mins or before. Id still keep it simple like you have it, 1 or 2 large doses rather a whole bunch of small ones
    3. Your grain bill seems fine to me. Ive recently tried capping, throwing in the darker malts right before sparging instead of for the entire mash. Seems to get the flavor without some of the harsher tastes.
    4. I think a 90 min boil would be fine
    5. Instead of 2 packets of yeast, id suggest using 1 and making a starter. That way, they're already running when they hit the wort.
    6. I would say roughly .5 lb of lactose would give some noticeable flavor. But id caution against going overboard for the first time around. Complex is one thing, undrinkable is another ;) it should be added during the boil, but not sure if early or late matters.
    7. 3-5 vanilla beans? Depending on their size.
    8. Maybe add more hops overall. This looks to be a big beer that won't be ready for a while, so that needs to be compensated by upping the hops since they'll fade over time. Depending on the AAU, I'd say 4-5 ozs would work
    9. That FG depends. If you've got the lactose in there, it might be fine. Its unfermentable, so it would definitely leave the FG higher and some residual sweetness.

    Hope some of that rambling is helpful
    And +10 on the ten fidy love. Ive been poking around for a recipe for that for a bit now. Ia that what you're going for?
     
  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to say, it definitely looks like you've been planning this beer out for some time. Didn't want to knock any of your hard work
     
  4. gardnerg1988

    gardnerg1988 New Member

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    Ha, I actually came up with the recipe on the fly in the homebrew shop, which is why I ended up with so many questions. Thanks for your input!

    I chose the Cali ale yeast over English because I like smooth and somewhat sweet stouts, like the ten fidy, and I know that one uses cali ale.

    And I have some hallertau I could use instead of citra but it has half the AAU of Citra which is why I picked that. Does any of the hop flavor come through with the bittering hops, I thought I would only be getting the bittering qualities from them.

    And I have never heard of the "capping" thing but that sounds like a great idea.

    And I did not have the lactose in there for that projected FG, is that a problem you think? It technically fits the style but it seems like it could be too high, I have never had an FG that high, not sure what it would be like
     
  5. gardnerg1988

    gardnerg1988 New Member

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    And I am not going for ten fidy specifically but I am hoping for that same kind of stout. Sweet but not too sweet, not really bitter, smooth, big, and just super tasty. I am mostly just trying to avoid something like a dry stout, or a lot of stouts and porters I drink sometimes have this very similar taste profile I don't like, I don't know exactly what it is, it reminds me of earthy maybe or maybe it's just unwanted harsh flavors from the dark grain and your capping method could help prevent it. anyway That is why I chose Cali Ale yeast and no roasted barley
     
  6. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    yes theirs been a lot of discussions about throwing dark grains in later, haven't tried this my self because Ive never had the bitter taste everyone talks about in dark beers, I think the water has a lot to do with activating those flavors but first glance without any roasted or roasty grains it will be more of a chocolate flavor but if thats what your looking for go with it
     
  7. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    You've got a point about not getting any flavor with that long of a boil, but then, personally I wouldn't use Citra for bittering (or at least not only for bittering).
    to me, it's kind of like getting a nice piece of brazilian rosewood but then covering it up with a coat of paint. better to get a sturdy 2x4 if you're painting over it anyway.

    i think that FG might be too high then. You'd just be adding more sweetness with the lactose, so the FG would be a bit higher even.
     

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