The plan to brew 230L of a big 10% ish Russian Imperial Stout to age in a ex Laphroaig whisky barrel.
The plan hatched was to go with a tried and tested recipe from Brewing Classic Styles but just make it a bit bigger, so that it ages well in the oak barrel and can stand up against the big flavors of a peaty whisky.
I brewed a 40L test batch of the beer and was pretty pleased with the result and luckily it got nods of approval from all those involved in the main brew days.
Logistically this was going to be a difficult beer to brew, and early on the decision was made to include 20-25% extract as on home brew equipment it is extremely difficult (but not impossible) to get wort as strong as needed in the volume needed, and in all honesty i just wanted this to be a 2 brew project!
So 2 brewdays, the first on the 15th May and the second 2 days later on the 17th, on the first day the mash efficiency was higher than expected so the malt bill fro the 2nd brewday was adjusted slightly and below is recipe brewed, calculated on a 83%mash efficiency for a 120L batch.
In total about 37Kg of grist in a 120L mash tun (shown bellow – end of sparge), it did all fit with a liquor to grist ratio of 2.4:1 which was well below my normal 3:1 ratio when using the RIMS system, and as expected this did cause a bit of an issue when recirculating. Basically the grain bed is to thick and is in effect sucked down on to the bottom plates when recirculating. Not really the end of the world but meant the temperature of the mash could not be raised for the mash out, and we ended up mashing at high 66 – 67degC instead of 68degC for the 60min.
Water was an interesting one for this brew, London water was not alkaline enough at the grist to water ratio to hit the desired pH so Pickling Lime was added to the mash, and the pH reading of the mash 10 mins in cooled to 20degC was 5.5.
And the boiler filling up slowly before the 90min boil.
And a bit of a group photo while everyone was still fairly soba!
Following the boil and the steep the wort was called to 17deg before pitching the yeast. The temp was held at 17degC for the first 48 hours before being raised to 21degC over the following 5 day.
One of the best things about the day was that every one who came brought both their own home brew and also some commercial beers and made for a great sampling session, along with some good chicken wings and a load of sausage baguettes (i’m thinking a barbeque will have to be bought for the next barrel project!).
Update 27/05/2014 – The first batch has fermented down to 1.026 and the 2nd batch is at 1.032, so looking to be about a 10.5% RIS, almost time to prepare the barrel.
Update 06/06/2014 – Well its barrel day, 220L of RIS goes into the barrel!
Update 08/10/2014 – The gravity is down to 1.024 so has dropped about 5 points since the last reading was taken back at the end of May, but no CO2 has been produced in the last 2 or so months so hopefully we now have a stable gravity reading – will be taking another reading in 6 weeks time at which point we should be ready for bottling.