Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Brew Day, Batch 354: Buster 2011

As in years past, the "Buster" beer for 2011 will be 1) massive, 2) unconventional in some way. This year, I began thinking along the lines of an Imperial stout with some sort of odd fruit adjunct such as dates or raisins or prunes. The more I thought of it, the more I liked the idea of prunes- a prune-like flavor is pretty natural in a strong dark beer, especially an aged one, as this one would be. Plus, drawing on my Cicerone skills, I have determined that prunes taste dandy. I discussed recipe formulation with my co-conspirator Skip, telling him that I was thinking Imperial stout with some sort of fruit, and he said, without a pause, "Prunes!" Done, and done.

Now, the prunes won't come into play until after the wort is fermented; we will rack the green beer onto a couple pounds, coarsely chopped, in each of two five gallon secondary fermenters.

What did come into play was a lot of malt. A. Lot. Here's the grain bill for 10 gallons:

48 lbs. Muntons Marris Otter Pale Ale malt
1 1/2 lbs. Briess  40L Crystal
1 1/2 lbs. Briess 80L Crystal
1/2 lb. Dingemanns Special B
2 lbs. Fawcett Light Chocolate malt
2 lbs. British roasted barley

This lot was infusion mashed in two cooler type mash/lauter tuns at around 152F with 1qt./lb for around 90 minutes. First runnings yielded only about 8 gallons, so we sparged both mashes a bit to collect a total of about 13-1/2 gallons in the kettle. Once this was reduced to a wee bit over 10 gallons, the ol'l hydrometer read 1.113. Whoa. Cool.

When the volume in the kettle got down to about 12 gallons, we started tracking time. 30 minutes from that point, we added about 2 ounces of Magnum at 20.5% alpha, and one ounce of Nugget at 12%. 40 minutes later, an ounce of Mt. Hood went into the kettle. The extremely scientific calculations underlying these additions have us in the neighborhood of 85 BUs total.

Once cooled, this very heavy wort was turned over to a healthy slurry of Wyeast 1056, which tore into it like a starving wolverine attacking a juicy hamster. Stay tuned....

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