Bourbon County Stout Clone in a 5gal MLT
I have been unable to acquire any bottles of Goose Island Bourbon Stout this year, despite being on one "call when it's in" list and knowing the exact time the truck was dropping it off at another store. So F*** it. I decided to do a clone.
As I thought through my process, I decided I wanted to max out my equipment, get a total of 6.5 gallons. I had a vial of San Diego Super Yeast and made a 2L starter. Now, I'm brewing. This will be a partial mash recipe, partigyle style, with 10 gallons of second runnings (5 gallons per mash). So if anybody else wants to brew this with a small MLT, make sure you have a LOT of DME on hand so that when you miss your OG, you can tweak it a bit.
My plan was to do two mashes. The first runnings (about 4 gallons, pre-boil) will be used for the BCS. The second runnings will become 5 gallons of bourbon porter. I will use this lighter batch to get a better idea of how long to keep the BCS on the oak. I will then repeat this process a second time, resulting in two 3.25 gallon batches of BCS and two 5 gallon batches of porter. Once finished, I will then rack the BCS to a 6.5 gallon secondary, topped up with the beer. Talk about maximizing your equipment! But hey, if I'm going to let this beer age for 6 months or more, there's no sense in brewing any less than I possibly can!
The porter with the extra 2.5lbs of DME came in at 1.045 SG.
The 3.25 gallons of BCS came in at 1.122 with an extra 3 lbs of DME because I only did a 90 minute boil. If I really wanted to do it all grain, it would have been a 6 hour boil)... forget that!
What follows is the recipe I used this time. This link is to the other BCS thread where I posted my BIAB/Partial Mash recipe that I will probably use next time. Post #32 details how I developed the recipe and Post #33 gives you my suggestion for a BIAB Partial Mash version. Next time I brew this, I'm going to take the hit to authenticity and price and use more LME/DME. It's an expensive recipe, no matter how you cut it and having to conduct two mashes just to achieve your volume is kinda crazy. I would have rather have used more extract (or bought a bigger MLT).
Anyway, here's how I'm doing it this time. Note, this is a 3 gallon batch designed to fit in my 5 gallon MLT... and I STILL wound up using quite a bit of DME to hit my target SG. It's not that my efficiency was bad (around 79%, with the final runnings still reading at 1.008), I just didn't want to have to boil down 1.015 wort for 6+ hours to make it to the higher gravity.
Ingredients Amount Item Type % or IBU
2.50 lb Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry Extract 14.7 %
2.50 lb Munich Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM) Extract 14.7 %
4.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 26.5 %
2.25 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 13.2 %
2.00 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 11.8 %
1.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.8 %
1.50 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 8.8 %
0.25 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 1.5 %
4.00 oz Williamette [4.60%] (60 min) Hops 59.0 IBU
Beer Profile Estimated Original Gravity: 1.129 SG (1.075-1.100 SG) Measured Original Gravity: 1.122 SG
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.032 SG (1.018-1.034 SG) Measured Final Gravity: 1.035 SG
Estimated Color: 102.7 SRM (30.0-45.0 SRM) Color [Color]
Bitterness: 59.0 IBU (50.0-95.0 IBU) Alpha Acid Units: 6.1 AAU
Estimated Alcohol by Volume: 12.8 % (8.0-13.0 %) Actual Alcohol by Volume: 11.5 %
Ok... for my two second runnings beers, one just had 3 lbs of DME added to make a porter (1.042 down to 1.018). The other one is going to be tweaked into a stout. A 3/4lb of Roasted Barley, 1/2lb Munich, 1/2lb Black Patent with 3 lbs of DME for an OG of 1.044 (down to 1.020).
I picked up a wine thief at the LHBS so I will be able to taste, sample, and measure as I go, but since it's still fermenting, I see no reason to take a sample yet.
For oak, I've decided on 2 ounces of Medium American Oak cubes. They have been soaking in bourbon for 1 week. After a second week, I will reserve the liquid for possible use at bottling time, then add the oak and taste it every 5 days or so.
Hopefully, the the bourbon will pull out some of the fresh tannins from the oak and allow the beer to absorb it more slowly. Otherwise, from what I have read, it would be easy to go from good to over-oaked very quickly.
Personally, I think the people who add more than an ounce of fresh oak, or 2 ounces of pre-soaked oak, are trying to do too much in too little time. In fact, I will probably only use 1 ounce of the oak cubes to allow for a longer secondary time before kegging and bottling.
9 days in and the airlock is still bubbling once every 5 seconds or so.... FANTASTIC!
Oh.. and I was able to get a taste of BCS on draft. Funny story. I was with one of my girlfriends at an outdoor festival and we came across a pub called "The Wild Monk" (st charles, il). I said, "Baby... Monks are only known for 2 things: Praying and Beer. And that doesn't look like a monastery!"
Sure enough, walked in and discovered a place with some tasty beers and got my hands on a glass of BCS.
I just tested the samples from my two Bourbon County Stout clones.
These were supposed to be identical batches, but when I missed my gravity a little bit on the first batch, I made up a bit of the difference in the second batch. Oddly, the first batch, which came out a little bit low on gravity (1.124/1.033) tastes noticeably thinner and less accurate than the second batch 1.131/1.036 and still bubbling slightly after 11 days). Fortunately, I have almost 4 gallons of the latter so I'll just blend the minimum amount of the 1st one in to make my 6.5 gallons. Blending the samples 50/50, it already seems pretty close.
As for the recipe, I will definitely say that you want to keep this above an SG of 1.13x. And I feel that I may have used too much roasted barley. This would be consistent with my interpretation of the recipe where I said that Crystal 60 and Roasted Barley MAY be used in equal amounts. Based on this tasting (after less than two weeks), I am thinking that you'd be better off with a bit less roasted barley, maybe an even 1 lbs. On the other hand, this beer needs to now age for 6 months or more and that will give it a LOT of time for the sharpness of the roasted barley to mellow out, so I'll reserve final judgment on that for now.
Also, Goose Island probably uses something like California Ale Yeast or US-05. I used San Diego Super Yeast. I also used a stir plate, a 1L starter pitched at high-krausen, and pure O2 to aerate. As a result, I got slightly better attenuation than they did and the beer is thinner. In this recipe, hitting your Final Gravity is probably more important than hitting your Starting Gravity. 10%, 11%, 12%, 13%ABV probably doesn't matter too much, but you've got to get close to 1.040 FG. Over the years, Goose Island's beer has climbed in ABV. It was originally around 10%. Now I believe it's around 13%. But the flavor profile is very similar (I actually preferred the earlier years, around 2005-08 when I believe they used Styrian Goldings). I attribute the similarities throughout the years to the FG. So I guess that's another challenge with this beer: Control your FG and aim for 1.040 +/- .003
And yes, having had the 2010 and 2012 vintages of this beer, as well as the 1999-2008 (in a vertical tasting, as well as during each year) I have to say that as the alcohol has climbed, it's not quite as good as it once was. The increase in alcohol has thinned out the beer a little bit and made it a little bit more balanced. I think it's more accessible now to the "big beer geeks", and a bit more special to them for being stronger. But I honestly don't think it's a better beer than it was back when it wasn't quite as strong. I think Goose Island got caught up in the arms race for stronger beers and they felt that 10 or 11% was no longer "special enough".
Finally, here's an offer: I know a few other people have brewed their own interpretations of this beer. And I know it's an expensive and challenging beer to brew, especially since there is no official recipe. So if anybody else would like to brew this beer with their own interpretation of the recipe and swap a bottle to compare notes, I'd be totally willing to do that. Just give me 6 months for me to finish brewing it.
Subscribed! Looks delicious!
I drew a sample today. Holy crap! I think it's better than the original. There's a couple competing issues that I will alert you to...
The oak seems just a LITTLE bit strong compared to the original, but is not objectionable. I can also clearly tell that, while totally drinkable and delicious, this beer needs another few months to be at its peak. Sooo.. I'm going to let it sit on the oak for another week or two, then let it age in a keg. Also, I only used about 1.25 ounces of the oak that I initially had soaked. And the bourbon flavor isn't quite strong enough... but it's close!
If you are really committed to making a beer this big and awesome, using less oak so it can age longer without getting over-powering, and allowing it to gather the oak flavor more slowly so you don't feel compelled to take daily or weekly samples, is clearly the way to go. I'll still have it off the oak long before it's well aged. At this point, it's just a matter of balancing the two.
It's been about 4 weeks on the 1.25oz of oak cubes.
My next batch will be a bourbon county stout interpretation. Here is my plan for 5 gallons:
20 lb 2 row
7 lb munich
2 lb chocolate
1.5 lb crystal 60
1.5 lb roast barley
1 lb debittered black malt
3 oz willamette @ bittering
3 packs US-05
Mash @ 152F for 90 minutes
Boil 2 hr 45 min
Ferment at 59F
Add 1 oz heavy toast oak cubes and half a bottle of bourbon to the secondary.
Shooting for 1.130 and 60 IBUs. I'm thinking I may pre boil the oak cubes to cut back on some of the oak flavor? I may just add the bourbon to taste as well. I have used a half bottle in the BVIP recipe with success. Obviously it won't be done for a while, but I may be interested in a trade.
And I would up the munich and reduce the 2-row.. but that's just a hunch on my part. Your ratio of 2-row to Munich may be more accurate than mine, but I dunno.
Well, my BCS went into the keg today. Looks like it was on the oak for about 6 weeks based on my notes above. Actually, I wanted to transfer it a week earlier, but life got in the way and I figured that some extra oak flavor would just discourage me from drinking it sooner anyway.
No tasting notes this time... I just got it all into the keg and got it carbing. I know what it tastes like and haven't been much in the mood to drink these last couple of days.
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