The Method Brewing Blog

Brewer’s Notebook, October 26-27: Dark and Boozy Nights

November 3rd, 2013 by kenton No Comments

We kicked off this weekend brewing beers which benefit from some aging. We started with Paul’s Imperial Stout, a super aggressive, very tasty and dangerously strong and thick brew. This is the pilot brew for the recipe, so we’re all pretty eager to try it out.

The next day was a monster. Robert has his automated HERMS up and running (that’s Heat Exchange Recirculating Mash System, pictured below), which which is hugely exciting for us. This is the prototype for our brewhouse system, and it’s working like a dream – we’re now capable of performing multi-step mashes, with temperature control within well under a degree, and logging data through the entire process.

Our pilot HERMS

Robert’s brainchild: an automated temperature control system for mashing and fermentation.

In fact, even once our brews are fermenting, we’re monitoring and controlling their temperature, helping us more precisely determine the final flavor profile of our beers. This is a big step, and Robert deserves a lot of credit for making it happen.

He kicked off the day with a second iteration of our All-Wheat Stout. The initial brew was good, but probably needs more body and a stronger backbone, and the same may be true for the second iteration, as we were working with some incompletely crushed grain (note: that bit of conventional wisdom seems true. We brewed the same recipe on the same equipment, and crushing the grain finely in-house got us nearly a 20% efficiency bump). We expect a tasty beer, but maybe on the Porter end of the spectrum. We next brewed a second version of my Experimental Belgian. My goal is to fuse traditional dark, fruity Belgian flavors with strong malt and citrus notes to make a complex, winelike, over-the-top Dark Strong Ale, and I think we took a big step forward. I improved the recipe for my homemade syrup (to be posted soon), increased the proportion of Special B grain to a whopping 16%, and added dark Crystal malt, and the result is super dark and flavorful. Finally, we brewed Robert’s new brainchild, a Brandy and Brown Sugar Barley Wine. There’s a lot going on there, including aging on Cognac and Armagnac-soaked oak. Both this and the Belgian will be well over 9% ABV.

We like where our current experiments are taking us. The future is going to get dark and boozy.

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