#78 Shishiga Universal Stout

Eureka, I would like to publish another dark and evil recipe. The recipe of today is for a massive Imperial Stout (OG 1.146) and a measured/calculated ABV of 17.6%. 17.6% is my current record in terms of ABV (but it won’t be the record holder for long). Because this beer doesn’t fit the BJCP 13F category for Russian Imperial Stouts, I call it a Universal Stout.

The recipe below should get you a wort of roughly 24°P (1.099). Don’t try to get higher original gravities than 1.100 or you might stress the yeasts too much. Let the yeast start the fermentation at lower gravities and increase the gravity step-by-step during the active fermentation by adding further fermentable sugars. Second, use a yeast strain that is able to deal with higher alcohol levels. I chose White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity yeast strain for this purpose. According to White Labs, this strain should be able to deal with alcohol levels of up to 25% (White Labs WLP099).

Recipe: Shishiga Universal Stout
Numbers: Volume [L] 16 (4.2 gal)
Original gravity 34.5°P (1.146) (measured, see text)
Terminal gravity 6.2°P (1.024)
Color Around 200 EBC
IBU 120 IBU
ABV 17.6% (v/v)
Grains: Pale malt (6.5 EBC) 6 kg
Wheat malt (4 EBC) 0.9 kg
Roasted barley (1150 EBC) 1.1 kg
Carafa 1 (900 EBC) 1.1 kg
Caramunich 2 (120 EBC) 0.4 kg
Toasted oats (around 100 EBC) 2 kg
Whisky malt (20 EBC) 1 kg
Hops: Northern Brewer (10% AA) 100 g and boiled for 60 min
Magnum (15% AA) 63 g and boiled for 60 min
East Kent Goldings (6.7% AA) 50 g and boiled for 10 min
East Kent Goldings (6.7% AA) 10 g and boiled for 1 min
Yeast: Wyeast #1098 British Ale
White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity Ale
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 31 L (8.2 gal), sparge: 30 L (7.9 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @66°C (151°F), 90 min @66°C (151°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Boiled for 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 4 weeks @20°C (68°F) in plastic fermenter, starting gravity of 24.2°P– 4 days into fermentation: Added WLP099 and yeast nutrients– 6-14 days into fermentation: Added 0.9 kg of candy syrup, 0.5 kg cane sugar, 1 kg cane sugar, yeast nutrients in daily small additions
Secondary 3 weeks @15°C (59°F) in plastic fermenter on Rum soaked wood chips (50 g medium toasted French oak chips, 50 g medium toasted US oak)
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2 (force carbonated in keg)
Maturation time Years

03.29.2013: Toasted some oak flakes in my oven at 120°C (248°F) for 20-30 min until the flakes had a brownish color and smelled like popcorn. In then crushed all the malts and mashed everything in at 66°C (151°F). I then left the mash rest for 90 min. Then sparged at 78°C (172°F), collected the wort and added the hops according to the recipe. I further on collected the second runnings for a smaller 12°P (1.048) Stout. I cooled the wort down to 20°C (68°F) and added a massive amount of WY1098 British Ale yeast according to the common pitching rates. The fermentation took off within a couple of hours.

04.02.2013: Four days into the fermentation. Added 200 billion WLP099 yeast cells with a small yeast nutrient addition. Gravity was already down to 8.7°P (1.034). Well done British Ale yeast.

04.06.2013: Added 0.9 kg of homemade candy syrup, 0.5 kg cane sugar, 1 kg of white table sugar, yeast nutrients over the next four days in small, quarter-daily additions.

04.10.2013: Last sugar additions.

04.27.2013: Racked beer of the yeast cake into a secondary fermenter. Added 100 g of a 50:50 blend of medium toasted French and US oak chips that have been sitting in some rum for a couple of months.

06.19.2013: Kegged the beer and force carbonated it to a carbonation level of 2 vol of carbon dioxide. And now its time to wait for the first tasting. Concerning the alcohol measurement. I calculated an original gravity of 34°P. One way do evaluate the ABVs is to measure the beer’s terminal gravity with a hydrometer (6.2°P in this case) and measure the Brix using a refractometer (18°Brix in this case). From these two values, one can calculate the actual original gravity. I use “Die Kleine Bieranalyse” for that purpose. In my case, the original gravity was 34.5°P I calculated an ABV of 17.5% from these two values.

I am really happy how this batch turned out. Luckily, it was no problem to ferment this beast and the terminal gravity is not too low nor too high. Judging from the first preliminary tasting, the wood character is way better than the beer I matured in an actual Whisky barrel. Will see how this beer develops over the next couple of months. Cheers and stay tuned!

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