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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Imperial Stout Tips and Advice
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:43 AM   #1
mtbfan101
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Default Imperial Stout Tips and Advice

Hey everyone,

I've done five all grain brews now, and I feel like I'm ready to do an imperial stout. If anyone can offer up a bit of advice for this particular style of beer, it'd be much appreciated. I have yet to work out a recipe, but when I do I'll post it up for criticism.

Questions:
What temperature do I ferment at?

What temperature do I mash at? I was thinking you'd probably want to mash lower to dry it out a bit, not to mention hit the higher ABV the style is known for.

I have a 5 gal mash tun, so I was going to make a 5 gal recipe and cut it in half. Anything I need to know about scaling down?

Is it true that imperial stouts need to be left in the primary for a month? If so, will it be okay to leave only 2.5 gallons of beer in a 6.5 gallon bucket? I'd plan on racking it to a 3 gallon secondary.

That leads me to my next question, how long do I need to leave it in the secondary for?

How long does it take to bottle condition?

I've read about "alcohol boosters". What is used to boost the alcohol in the beer(some sugar, i'm sure) and when/why would you use it?

That's what I got for now, but I'm sure I'll think of more. Maybe this will help out other people who are new to brewing this style.

Best regards,

Pat

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Old 09-15-2012, 12:57 AM   #2
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Ferment at the lower end of the spectrum to begin with and increase a bit later to finish off. Pitch a metric-asston (yep, that's a unit of measurement for yeast I think) of a highly attenuating yeast.

I'd mash at 152*

I'd leave it in the primary for three weeks to a month. After initial fermentation has slowed up you can rouse your yeast everyday by rocking your carboy. This keeps it in suspension to help the yeast finish their job.

Give it a few months in the secondary. At least two but as many as six months to a year. Stouts age well.

I'd pitch a half pack of additional yeast at bottling time if it was truly a huge beer and you aged for a long time. Even with that sometimes the alcohol slows down carbonation time so at least a month at 60-70*.

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Old 09-15-2012, 01:23 AM   #3
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Hahaha, I'm loving your units of measurement. That's a great idea about rocking the carboy; I would have never thought about that. Now, since this is only going to be a 2.5 gallon batch, do you think 2 packs of yeast would qualify as a metric asston, or do you think I need to make a starter?

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Old 09-15-2012, 01:53 AM   #4
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Not sure on what gravity you're shooting for or if you mean liquid or dry yeast so check this website:

http://www.mrmalty.com/calc/calc.html

That calculator is pretty easy to use and should give you how much yeast you need. Also, when I said rocking make sure not to splash your beer. Just swirl it around a bit. I do it for big beers if I'm worried about the yeast.

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Old 09-16-2012, 03:32 AM   #5
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By no means am I an expert, but I have a few pointers:

I think a mash at 152 might be just a tad low... yo udon't want your FG to be too low for that style. Remember, lower mash temp will get you a lower FG, and vice-versa. This is because at higher temps more unfermentables "stuff" is leeched out of the grains which leave "stuff" that adds mouthfeel. Also, you do not need to concern yourself with adding sugar... sugar is a means to produce a drier beer and/or add alcohol, but with an imperial stout you're already adding a lot of fermentable grains that will contribute flavor and mouthfeel to the beer. A happy byproduct of this is you will in turn have a higher abv. You add sugar to pales, typically. Adding sugar to an imperial stout is like watering the wine down in a beef bourgainione when a rich burgundy taste is the point of the dish in the first place. Finally, you can condition this style for a while. I have an RIS that ive been sitting on for about 7 months. I'll bottle it later this month, and hope to be drinking it this winter, when I'll brew another one for next year.

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Old 09-16-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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Whether you want to go for 152 or 149 for mash temp depends on your estimated OG. If you are going for high gravity 149 and a 1,5 h mash should do it.

The time in primary depends greatly on how effective your yeast is. The faster you reach your FG the sooner you can switch to secondary. Always make a yeast starter if possible.

If you want to use sugar use some of the more unrefined ones. A RIS doesn't need sugar, unless you want to lighten the body.

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Old 09-16-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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Opinions on how to make a certain beer style are as numerous as yeast count for a RIS (an English asston), none of which (here anyway) are wrong. With that being said, here's my experience- search for the Kate the Great recipe on here. It's a great beer. I use Pacman yeast in it. It will tear though a 1.10+ RIS like nobody's business. You should be fine with 2.5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon bucket, as long as it is fermenting away. After your gravity has stabilized for three days, rack to secondary and learn to wait a L O N G time. I had my last batch sit in secondary for 7 months before I bottled it. That was about 7 months ago, and the whole batch it still sitting in bottles. Good Luck!

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Old 09-16-2012, 09:31 PM   #8
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Definitely go with Kate the great! I'm brewing my second batch of it in as many weekends. This is my fourth batch of Kate.

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Old 09-17-2012, 05:44 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies! I'll take a look at Kate the Great. I have a recipe I came up with a couple of days ago that I think I'm going to try out, but I want to see if I can learn anything from the recipe you guys gave me and make some changes where necessary.

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