Monday, April 1, 2013

Putting the LAGER Back in Lager Jogger!

Technically, I'm putting the ALE back in, but that just doesn't flow.

After a year-long hiatus from brewing, I'm finally doing another batch!!

And this time, I'm going bigger than I ever have in a couple of ways.

1) I'm brewing the biggest beer I've ever done. This thing will be over 11% alcohol!

2) I'm moving up from extract brewing to a partial mash.

What does that mean?

Well, to brew, you first start by mashing your milled grains (i.e. steeping them in hot water so the enzymes can extract the sugars locked in the grain). Once that's done, you bring your wort (the sugary water you just made) up to a boil, add some hops, boil it for about an hour, cool it down, add some yeast, and let the yeast eat the sugar to make the alcohol. After a week or two, you have beer.

The beers I've made thus far have been extract recipes, which means I've skipped that first step of mashing the grain. Instead, I bring plain water up to a boil and add in cans of malt extract syrup to make my wort.



A partial mash is just that -- only mashing part of the grains needed, and supplementing with some liquid malt extract. I don't have the equipment I would need to do an all-grain batch, but it sounds like I can do a partial mash with what I have on hand (thanks to this post on homebrewtalk!).
Side note for any new brewers out there: a partial mash is about the same as an extract plus specialty grains, except that the grains in a partial mash actually contribute to the enzymes/sugars needed in the wort, whereas a specialty grain steep only contributes to the flavor. I have done an extract + specialty grains a few times, with great results!

So what's my comeback brew going to be? A Russian Imperial Stout!
From BeerAdvocate: Inspired by brewers back in the 1800's to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavours. Often dry. Suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols are quite evident. Hop character can vary from none, to balanced to aggressive.

Yes. Yes. YES! I LOVE big, malty, roasty, chocolately beers!
As I mentioned before, this thing's gonna be big! The plan will be to let it ferment over the summer and bottle it early in the fall.

I'm also planning on letting one gallon of the batch (about 10 beers) condition on some bourbon-soaked oak chips (maybe with a little vanilla bean thrown in), and I'm thinking about adding espresso to another gallon. I want to experiment with different flavors, but I've heard the base recipe is really good by itself so I want to make sure I'll have plenty of that left, too.

Speaking of the recipe, here's what I'm going with:

Rapture Russian Imperial Stout

1.25lbs Maris OtterMash
1lbs Dark English Malt (160L)Mash
1lbs Munich MaltMash
1lbs Flaked BarleyMash
1lbs Special B MaltMash
14oz Chocolate MaltMash
6oz Black Patent MaltMash
6oz Quaker Quick OatsMash
2oz CarapilsMash
9.9lbs Maris Otter Extract (3 cans)Boil - 90 min
1.5lbs Plain Light Dry Malt ExtractBoil - 90 min
8oz Malto-DextrinBoil - 90 min
2.5oz Nugget Hops (13% AA)Boil - 60 min
1tsp Yeast NutrientBoil - 15 min
1tsp Irish MossBoil - 15 min
2packets Safale US-05Yeast
4oz Corn SugarPriming Sugar
I used this document to figure out how to take the all-grain recipe posted on HomeBrewTalk and convert it to a partial mash. Hopefully I did it correctly!
Here's the recipe after I plugged it into HopVille; the numbers are a close enough match to the original for me!
The potential specs:My RecipeOriginal Recipe
Original Gravity:1.1161.120
Final Gravity:1.0311.030
Color:Black (56° SRM)Black (53 SRM)
Bitterness:76.4 IBU76
Alcohol:11.3%11 - 12%
Calories:383 / 12 ozNot sure
I can't even begin to describe how excited I am about this beer. This will definitely be an exercise in patience, but it'll be worth it for sure.

I'm hoping to brew very soon (like this week or next), but...

in the meantime, I need help naming this thing!

I want to have some fun with this one, and I want to blog about the entire process (finalizing the recipe, getting the ingredients, preparing for the brew-day, the brewing process (since it'll be my first partial mash), letting it ferment, racking smaller batches to condition on bourbon/espresso, creating labels, preparing for bottling, etc).

I really want to show how much goes into brewing and how fun and interesting of a process it is, so I want to break out of my typical three-post (brew day, bottle day, first tasting) routine and really expand this one out.

But you know I'm horrible with names, so I really need some help.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • It's a stout, so like the description above, think roasty, chocolately, and sweet, maybe with some hints of dark fruit mixed in.
  • It'll be ready in the fall (October-ish?) but I don't want anything related to Halloween (Oktoberfest might be fun, even though this is a completely different style of beer).
  • I think it would be fun to have different variations on the name based on what's been added to it (espresso/bourbon).
Okay, go!

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