Going Big in the New Year By: Ben Bakelaar
I was poking around trying to figure out what to write this week, so I decided to review the BJCP style guidelinesfor some inspiration! As I started clicking through each of the categories, I found myself looking for the heavier, darker beers that I love so much during winter. It turns out you have to click through quite a few categories until you hit the first one!
9E. Strong Scotch Ale, OG: 1.070 – 1.130
This got me wondering - “What’s the strongest beer style on the list?”. Below, the rest of the results.
12C. Baltic Porter, OG: 1.060 – 1.090
13F. Russian Imperial Stout, OG: 1.075 – 1.115
18E. Belgian Dark Strong Ale, OG: 1.075 – 1.110
19A. Old Ale, OG: 1.060 – 1.090
19B. English Barleywine, OG: 1.080 – 1.120
19C. American Barleywine, OG: 1.080 – 1.120
I was surprised to see the Strong Scotch Ale edging out Barleywines with an original gravity range topping out at 1.130. I remember when I first started all-grain brewing, I thought I couldn’t brew the biggest beer styles because there wasn’t enough space in a 5 gallon mash tun for all that grain. For some reason, it had never occurred to me to do a big beer style via partial mash brew, using DME or LME for a significant percent of the grain bill. Or, alternatively, just brew a smaller batch size. So in honor of going big for the new year, I have prepared a recipe which I think will deliver a malt bomb of tastiness that even a partial mash brewer can handle!
The recipe is designed with the assumption that all you will need is a 5 gallon pot to boil in. You can certainly use a mash tun if you have one, but I am suggesting the Brew-In-A-Bag method for convenience and simplicity. You can get a nice reusable grain bag that will hold all of your grains here[Editor’s Note: This bag can hold up to 5 lbs of Grain; for larger bags for a BIAB method you should deck with your local hardware supply store (or a Home Depot)] Although the BIAB method does normally yield a lower efficiency, because the gravity is going to be so high anyway, an efficiency of 65% vs. 75-80% doesn’t really matter. In order to give this brew as much flavor as possible, I’ve split the base malt into roughly half DME and half grains. As I mentioned in a previous article, you might be surprised how little specialty malts there are, even in a giant Scottish Wee Heavy. This one has only 1 lb in total, with 2/3 of that being Crystal 120 and 1/3 being Roasted Barley.
To make sure this would work in a small stove-top setup, I used a mash volume calculator. It says that 6 lbs of grain with a mash thickness of 1.25 qt/lb only takes up 2.36 gallons of space. That leaves plenty of room for the 6 lbs of DME that will be added to the pot.
So with that, here’s the recipe. Note that this is intended to yield 3 gallons, not 5!
3 gallon batch size [Editor’s Note: Recipe available for purchase this weekend]
6 lbs Marris Otter Pale malt
2/3 lb Crystal 120L malt
1/3 lb Roasted Barley
5 lbs Light Dry Extract (DME)
1 oz Fuggles @ 60 min
1 vial Wyeast Labs #3787 Trappist High Gravity
Mash temperature: 158f
BeerSmith shows the following characteristics for this recipe compared to the Strong Scotch Ale style definition.
We are maxing out the style at 1.129 original gravity, and going extra light on the hops at 15 IBUs. The color is a little dark at 27 SRM, but we aren’t trying to win any competitions here. And at 13.5% ABV, I think this might qualify as one of the biggest beers you can brew in a 5 gallon pot! Before you brew this one, just remember to do a little reading on the style, and I would also recommend Googling around for other brewers experiences with similar recipes. A high-gravity beer is something that needs a lot more TLC and time to reach its full potential than a typical brew. Also note the following recommendations for fermentation:
Fermentation temperature: 64f-68f
Primary fermentation: 2-3 weeks
Secondary fermentation: 2-3 months
Aging: 12 months
I will be conducting a trial run of this batch at Love2Brew before the end of the month – so keep your eyes out on the Facebook page for photos!