Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Two beers for today's roundup! Both inspired by Belgium (well... the second one was technically Dutch, but from my perspective here in North America, that's like the difference between southern Ontario and south-western Ontario.)

Unforced Error

The first was a shot at a nice, malty, tasty Belgian Dubbel. No problem, right? My brewing partner, Andrew, got ambitious. Who was I to argue? He cooked up some Belgian candi sugar, using a process like this. What he got was pretty gorgeous:

Three pounds of invert sugar, cooked for three hours.

Well, with colour like that, we figured we should build the beer around it without too much malt to help. Then, two things happened. One, we overshot our gravity with unexpectedly high efficiency from our mash-- resulting in a wort that would reach 9% alcohol after fermentation, instead of the targeted 7%. Two, we got much less flavour and colour contribution than we expected.

What we got, actually, was a beer with a ton of clove notes and a pretty clean profile. What we got was a Tripel.

They have a term for this in baseball, when you accidentally turn a double into a triple. They call it an Unforced Error.


"Ra Ra" (working name)

Next on deck (ooh, another baseball reference) was an attempt to clone, or at least get close to, a wonderfully rich, flavourful, no-roast imperial stout by De Molen brewery in the Netherlands, called Rasputin.

Much better beers than the facial expression would express.

The exported Rasputin has an interesting history in the US, being referred to as "Disputin" for a while due to a trademark dispute. What it is, though, is a fantastic, potent imperial stout that bears a very winey, rummy flavour instead of being full of roastiness. And lately I've found roasty beers to be about as appealing as licking a campfire.

And I didn't even realize what I wanted to brew until I tasted a (somewhat past its prime) stout by Russ of Biergotter, and I was reminded of how a stout doesn't have to be all Black Patent and Roasted Barley.

This recipe is an attempt to get close to my memory of Rasputin, which I've had at the brewery in the Netherlands, in the wonderful Gollem's Proeflokaal in Amsterdam, and at Volo in Toronto who sometimes import De Molen. Rasputin is one of my very favourite beers and if I can get close to it, it will be a huge victory.

Gollem's, with a tram casually rolling on by because Europe.

All I know about Rasputin is that it is "pale malt, chocolate and crystal malts" and "premiant and saaz hops". That's not much to go on, but I constructed a recipe designed to load the beer up on rich dark-fruit and malt flavour. The Saaz hops I could do, Premiant I couldn't, but I don't think that matters so much. The yeast is an Abbaye belgian yeast, brought up in a starter to give it a fighting chance in a 1.095 gravity wort.

Brew day wasn't perfect, we undershot our gravity quite badly, but drawing off extra volume and then boiling aggressively ended up giving 4.8 gallons at 1.095, instead of 5.5 at 1.097. Close enough, trading a few bottles of end product for a higher gravity. It occurs to me I had the same problem with Bombe, but after 2 years, I didn't remember the lessons of my last imperial stout. Oh well.

The name for this one is, well, probably temporary. Like Unforced Error, its identity will be revealed in time.

Recipe for what ended up being called Unforced Error:

Ra Ra
Imperial Stout
Type: All Grain Date: 15 Jul 2015
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal Brewer: Chris Klein
Boil Size: 6.67 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (8gal) + Coleman Cooler
End of Boil Volume 6.12 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 5.25 gal Est Mash Efficiency 80.2 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes:
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
16 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 83.1 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2 5.2 %
1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 3 5.2 %
12.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.9 %
8.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.6 %
3.60 oz Hallertauer Tradition [7.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 59.1 IBUs
3.00 oz Saaz [3.90 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 21.1 IBUs
1.10 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 8 -
1.0 pkg Abbaye (Danstar #) Yeast 9 -
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.097 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.095 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.024 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.7 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 11.3 %
Bitterness: 80.2 IBUs Calories: 327.0 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 36.6 SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Full Body, No Mash Out Total Grain Weight: 19 lbs 4.0 oz
Sparge Water: 3.46 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 24.06 qt of water at 173.0 F 156.0 F 45 min
Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 3.46 gal water at 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Bottle Volumes of CO2: 1.9
Pressure/Weight: 3.00 oz Carbonation Used: Bottle with 3.00 oz Corn Sugar
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 70.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
A little off on this one. Note the volume and OG. We boiled aggressively for 90 minutes to get the target gravity on a sub-par volume. Best to dial down the expected efficiency on high gravity beers because we're not sparging enough to draw off a lot of sugar.
Created with BeerSmith

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