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Big Brew Weekend – Russian Imperial Stout

A few weeks ago I traveled up to A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg. I picked up a couple 53 gallon bourbon barrels for our homebrew club (James River Homebrewers). We, as a club, had decided a while back that we wanted to try to brew a big barrel aged beer. It was a simple plan really…

  1. Acquire the barrel
  2. Brew the beer
  3. Wait
  4. Wait some more
  5. And continue to wait….
  6. Keg
  7. Take to the National Homebrew Conference in Philly next year.

So, with step one complete it was time to move on to step two. We settled on  Jamil’s “Czar’s Revenge” recipes from the book Brewing Classic Styles: 80 Winning Recipes Anyone Can Brew. This is a BIG BEER! Probably the biggest beer most of us had ever brewed which posed a whole new set of challenges. The grain bill is so large that it maxes out most 5 gallon brew systems and can make things messy pretty quick. That said, we were able to get 9 brewers together that wanted to push this envelope.

Czar’s Revenge

OG:        1.098

FG:         1.030

ADF:      68%

IBU:       77

Color:    57 SRM

ABV:      9.2%

Boil:       60 minutes

Pre Boil Volume:  7 gallons

Pre Boil Gravity: 1.084

 

19. 0 lbs British Pale Malt

1.5 lbs   Black Roasted Barley

1.0 lbs   Special “B”

0.5 lbs   Caramunich

0.5 lbs   Chocolate

0.5 lbs   Pale Chocolate

 

1.5 oz Horizon (13% AA) 60 min

2.0 oz Kent Goldings (5% AA) 10 min

2.0 oz Kent Goldings (5% AA) 1 min

Mash at 154° for 60 minutes

WLP 001

 

Logistically, it wasn’t possible to get everybody together to brew all at once, so, we have spread it out over several days. The kick off was yesterday where five brewers were able to cook up about 32 gallons of that black gold. The weather yesterday didn’t cooperate as it rained most of the day. But hell, a little rain never hurt anybody. Besides… it builds character ;-). The aroma was nothing short of mesmerizing.

We had some good friends over for the brew and plenty of good food on the table and great beer in the glasses. One friend brought two Russian River beers. Both were sours (which I have grown particularly fond of). One was the Consecration which is a 10% beer aged in Cabernet barrels. The other one was the Temptation which is a sour blonde aged in chardonnay barrels. The Consecration is probably my new favorite beer. Another friend brought over a couple bottles of Jolly Pumpkin which is a small brewery in Northern Michigan. One was a Fuego del Otono and the other was ……. Damn, I can’t remember. Did I mention that we had a lot of beer yesterday? Anyway, both of the Jolly Pumpkin beers were very tasty.

The day progressed without any major hiccups and a lot of full carboys.  Two other brewers brewed up 15 gallons today bringing the total to 47 gallons. So, another 6 gallons and we are there! A few weeks to ferment out and into the barrel it goes.

We’re still working on a plan for the second barrel. Thinking about a Belgian Quad. What do you think?

Happy Brewing!

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