Brew Day Report: Experimenting With Imperial Stout

Lately, we've had a taste for the dark and malty. Maybe it was the cooler weather over the past few months, or maybe we just needed a change from hoppy IPA's. Over the past few months we tried a lot of different darker, more rich varieties. We found a select few that really rattled our cages and decided to craft our own version. We captured some of our notes, and the recipe is available for download if you want to give it a go yourself. Its for a 10 gal batch but there are grain percentages if you'd like to adapt it to your preferred volume.

The Recipe

This imperial stout calls for a variety of malts, primarily pale (75%) and Caramunich (5%). Our main tweaks to the recipes that we used as models were varying the yeast strain (from an American Ale to a combination of London Ale and Super High Gravity Ale) and for kicks we spiked the wort with a large amount of hops at the end of the boil. 

Process

To hit our target original gravity of 1.085, we added 1 LB of sugar and 1 LB of Light DME to the boil. Then, boiling for two hours also helped boost the gravity a bit too.

Results

So far, so good. I tasted a sample last night and, as expected, it’s very close to what we were going for. I’d say it has a touch more sweetness and toffee flavor, rather than the big, heavy, roasted malt and char flavor of a typical imperial stout. Currently, the beer is in secondary conditioning for another week or two. Taste tests will determine when its ready. From there, we’ll bottle it and age for several months.

Next Time

  1. To give this beer a darker color and more roasted, char, and black malt character, I’d tweak the combinations of specialty malts. Altering the chocolate, roasted, and black malt proportions and adding some midnight wheat or de-bittered black to give me that darker color I prefer. 
  2. Considering the two-hour boil, prep, and cleanup, I’d plan more time for the brew day. 
  3. Back off of the large, late hop additions. I'd say they didn't contribute much to the finished beer, and to keep using them in the way I did would be a waste. After all, imperial stouts are really a showcase for the malts, not so much the hops. My variations on this particular recipe resulted in a good, well executed beer, but it doesn’t have the rich malt character of a typical imperial stout.

/ Cole