Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brandy Barrel Imperial Stout

As I posted awhile back, I recently acquired a 10 gallon Peach Brandy barrel from the owner of Aeppeltreow Winery & Distillery. While aging a Rhubarb-Berry Melomel, I wanted to plan ahead for the next batch to barrel age. Upon the suggestion of a few friends, and with their offers to help, I decided on an Imperial Stout.

Last year I helped start BOMB (Barrel of Monkeys Brewers), a group of friends, all wonderfully talented homebrewers/vintners on their own. We have 2 large barrels that we collectively brew for, with each person contributing 5 or 10 gallons. So far we have a 23 year old brandy barrel, and a Door County Zinfandel barrel from Stone's Throw Winery. The brandy barrel has a sour stout aging in it. The wine barrel had a batch of relatively low strength English Barleywine and now is holding a Rye Porter. Unfortunately, the barleywine, now kegged, is exhibiting signs of brettanomyces. The upside is that I find the flavors complementary so far, and if nothing else, it exhibits Old Ale-like qualities. My hope is that both barrels will soon be used for lambic fermentation. We're meeting this weekend, so ideas for what to do with them will be discussed.

The best thing to come out of the BOMB group is not the beer, but the friendship and camaraderie. It has been a blast getting together with the guys and sharing homebrew as well as great commercial beer. I'm amazed by the things some of the guys pull out of their cellars for our get-togethers. When we did the barleywine filling, we had flights of beer such as J.W. Lees barleywine, aged in Calvados, Sherry, and Port barrels going back to 2004, just as an example.

So, now with a smaller 10 gallon barrel of my own, I definitely want to get a few friends to brew batches with me here and there. With 5 gallons being my standard brew size, it'll be nice to share the brewing load and the results with friends.

For now, my friend Jim and I decided do use one of the Imperial Stout recipes from Zainasheff & Palmer's Brewing Classic Styles book. I intend to start brewing certain "beers to be aged" annually including an Imperial Stout, Old Ale, and barleywine. Thus, this recipe seemed like a good starting place with options to vary the recipe in years to come, whether or not it is oak aged. Here is what we ended up with:

Brandy Barrel Imperial Stout

brewed on: 4/25/2011
efficiency: 75%

expected OG: 1.100

Expected IBUs: 50.3 IBUs
mash temp: 150F


19 lbs Marris Otter
1.5 lbs Roasted Barley (300 SRM)
1 lb Special B
8 oz Caramunich
8 oz Chocolate malt
8 oz Pale Chocolate malt

1.5 oz Magnum @ 14.1% - 60 minutes
2 oz Willamette @ 4.8% - 10 minutes
2 oz Willamette @ 4.8% - 1 minute

US-05 (2 packets)

5/17/11 FG 1.032. (Jim's batch @ 1.031) Filling barrel tonight.

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