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Style of the Week: Imperial Stout!

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November 20, 2015 by fhsteinbart


RIS with coffee beans

Here we see a typical Imperial Stout served in a proper brandy snifter type glass. The coffee beans are optional, as I prefer them chocolate covered with my Imperial Stouts!

Perhaps one of the most historically well documented beers known to man is the style called Imperial Stout. All that you can say about it is that it’s the extreme upper edge of original gravity using highly roasted grains and dark(er) malts in the Stout family. Historical references aside, this beer really has no upper end, but definitely sports a minimum side of its brawny self. Even the more traditional brews like John Courage’s RIS display a high ethanol content of 10%, despite its lower than average original gravity. It makes up the difference however in the terminal gravity, which is in the mid to low teens. I find beers like this are more drinkable, and have a nice pleasant aftertaste that lingers like a fine brandy or Scotch. Below is a recipe of mine that makes a beer similar to the one made by Courage, so without more droning on by my part, let the brewing begin!

Extract:

  • 10 lbs. Extra-Light DME
  • 3 lbs. Brown Malt
  • 1¾ lbs. Black Patent Malt
  • 4 oz. Willamette or Fuggles Hops (Bittering)
  • 4oz. Goldings Hops (Flavor)
  • 4oz. Goldings Hops (Aroma)
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the boil
  • Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale, White labs WLP007, Imperial Four Square, or Danstar Windsor Dry Yeast

Instructions:

  • Heat 2 gallons of water to 155°F.
  • Turn off heat and add steeping grains, and steep for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the steeping grains, adding the malt extract and stirring until fully dissolved, then add water to volume.
  • Return to heat, bring to boil for 10 min. then add bittering hops. (Willamette or Fuggles, 60 min).
  • At 20 minutes remaining in the boil, add the flavor hops.
  • At 15 minutes remaining in the boil, add a Whirfloc tablet.
  • At the end of the boil, add the aroma hops.
  • After boil has finished, turn off heat and cool wort by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. (0 min)
  • Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using non-distilled bottled water or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 68° F until completed (about a week).
  • Allow to age an additional four to six weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

  • 13½ lbs. Pale Ale Malt
  • 3 lbs. Brown Malt
  • 1¾ lbs. Black Patent Malt
  • 4 oz. Willamette or Fuggles Hops (Bittering)
  • 4 oz. Goldings Hops (Flavor)
  • 4 oz. Goldings Hops (Aroma)
  • ¼ oz. Calcium Chloride in the mash and in the boil
  • Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale, White labs WLP007, Imperial Four Square, or Danstar Windsor Dry Yeast

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 147°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Add the flavor hops at 20 minutes remaining in the boil. Continue boiling for 10 more minutes, then add a Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss. At the end of the boil, add the aroma hops and cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 68°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 90 gms. corn sugar (approx. 2/3 cup), or kegged to 15 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 60°~65°F in a Brandy snifter glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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