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Advice Request: Russian Imperial Stout slow finish and Oak Aging

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Mizamook

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Hallo!

This might be my first post. But I've been enjoying your help while lurking in the shadows, so thanks!

I've got me here one 5-gallon batch of Russian Imperial Stout, namely "Bear Chested Putin" extract/partial mash kit from Home Brew Stuff (my favorite supplier "brewing enabler" which got me going in this hobby - no affiliation, just satisfaction to report).

I managed to coerce a tad higher starting gravity from the kit, so started at 1.097+ and pitched two US-05 satchets dry. (I know. I'm a bad person ... I've done more reading of late and will start hydrating pre-pitch from now on, but except for this stout all my beers have come out lovely).

Had up to 2" krausen for a few days, then it started to settle. Left it in primary from the 8th to the 16th of September, then to secondary (I'm reading that's not necessary anymore)

At transfer, SG was 1.032. Target FG is 1.026.

10 days later it's 1.030, and nearly a week after that (today) it's 1.028, maybe 1.029. (darn my eyes)

Getting closer. I had contacted Home Brew Stuff to ask advice, especially fearing it stalled, and they were helpful and encouraging, and also agreed on my idea/plan for going forward. I come to you to ask advice on how and when (details follow).

Right now the aroma and flavor are making me happy. Perhaps a tad sweet, but a lovely bitterness that feels at once intriguing and round with nice depth, and makes me want to sample more.

My idea is, since from what I've read on this forum that these bigger stouts really come into their own after some time (months at least), I should:

1. Transfer 3 gallons to a 3 gal carboy, topped up & airlocked
2. Transfer 1 gallon to a jug, topped up & airlocked, or to multiple (or combination of) 64-oz growlers and 32-oz Grolsch growlers
3. Bottle the remainder in a bomber and 12-oz bottles, capped, with carbonation drops.

I make mead and wine, and have learned that putting "works in progress" or remainders into capped beer bottles is a good way to sample stuff without cracking the larger vessels or bottles.

So to finish my idea out: I have a stack of oak flooring out in the shed. It's unused, and unfinished. I have this concept that, based on how it smells (not sure if it's red oak or white oak but it smells good) that I'd cut off the outer 1/8" of it, removing most of any infective stuff, and cut it into kerfed cubes, and possibly toast, roast, or char some. I would then add it to my various aging vessels (after soaking in bourbon maybe, as suggested, or not, I dunno ... I'd have to go get some bourbon).

What I haven't figured out is how much to add, (by weight?) per vessel ... perhaps NOT to add it to the 3-gallon carboy, but DO add some to at least two 1/2 gallon growlers ... maybe a heavy char on one, and very light roast on the other ... and then ... for how long?

My intent is to determine that, and after some span of time, bottle with carbonation drops, although I would have to perhaps add a tad of yeast?

I welcome any comments and or suggestions!

Cheers!
 

davidabcd

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The light toast would be good. I've done spirals for a week with good results (including adding the whiskey they were soaking in). Cutting it the way you mentioned should provide a decent amount of surface area.
Personally, I would bottle/package a stout after three weeks and let it age in the bottle. If I read it correctly, you're past that.
 
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Mizamook

Mizamook

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The light toast would be good. I've done spirals for a week with good results (including adding the whiskey they were soaking in). Cutting it the way you mentioned should provide a decent amount of surface area.
Personally, I would bottle/package a stout after three weeks and let it age in the bottle. If I read it correctly, you're past that.
Thanks ... yes, I agree conceptually about the light toast (rather than char) it's already pretty intensely bitter.

Yes, past that 3 weeks. With the headspace I've got in there, and lack of activity, I'm getting the heebie-jeebies ... gotta do something, and soon, else I'll "discover" the joys of O2 exposure or unwanted bugs.

I have loads and loads to learn ... please forgive any inanities I utter.
 

davidabcd

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With the headspace I've got in there, and lack of activity,
I would bottle then and save the oak experiment for the next batch since it's usually added around the end of week one in the fermenter. The beer will do well aging in the bottle and have a better chance of fully carbonating if you do it sooner. On that subject, you can add sugar individually but you can also batch prime. If you bottle prime, you can use ordinary table sugar and a funnel.
 
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Mizamook

Mizamook

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Aye, you're right - mebbe I should just go ahead and bottle. I'm a little leery of doing so if it's not actually "done" ... we had a geyser from the last bottle of a batch of Belgian Golden Strong (another kit from HBS) today, in fact .. pretty sure that was tricking me when I went to bottle, and it's been a fizzy nightmare of deliciousness since.

I did give the stout a good swirl earlier today, and I keep thinking I'm detecting very slight occasional airlock activity. I'll give it a day or two more, and bottle.

I usually batch prime using dextrose. 3-5 oz depending on my expected yield, and I do it immediately before bottling. I might try one tiny (I mean TINY) kerfed cube of oak in a bomber, and drink that soon after as the 12oz bottles are carb proven. At least it will give me an idea.

Thanks!

I would bottle then and save the oak experiment for the next batch since it's usually added around the end of week one in the fermenter. The beer will do well aging in the bottle and have a better chance of fully carbonating if you do it sooner. On that subject, you can add sugar individually but you can also batch prime. If you bottle prime, you can use ordinary table sugar and a funnel.
 

davidabcd

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very slight occasional airlock activity
That's more than likely from being swirled than that there is fermentation. I'd be very surprised if there is any fermentation going on. SG readings are the way to tell.
 
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Mizamook

Mizamook

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Indeed. Not sure what is going on ... if anything, it's glacially slow. (not looking at airlock after swirling, but after hours post-swirl). Here is a photo of what it looks like after at least 12 hours of no disturbance. FWIW, it looked like this after several days, too. These foam "islands" are persistent. I'll check gravity in a day.View media item 70449
That's more than likely from being swirled than that there is fermentation. I'd be very surprised if there is any fermentation going on. SG readings are the way to tell.
 

davidabcd

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The beer looks great from here. You could post if/when you hit that 1.026 and maybe your results when it's ready? If it was me, I wouldn't be too bummed if I didn't quite hit that.

I have a whiskey barrel RIS on deck or double-deck. It uses 12oz of whiskey and I forget the oak amount. It's a Dragon's Milk clone and it came out great. Many said 12oz was too much but it turned out. And it was 12% ABV. I used 2, US-05s and yeast nutrient last time but that was it for special handling. I've been impressed with Mangrove Jack's Belgian yeast (M-41) since it fermented the heck out of two quads (12%) and a tripel (11%) so I may pitch two of the M-42s (strong ale yeast) for the RIS coming up.
 

kh54s10

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If that is in secondary, don't mess with it any more. Any agitation will add to oxidation of the beer.

I would definitely NOT use flooring wood for the beer. You can't be sure that it was not treated in some way.

If you want to oak it. I would buy oak produced for the purpose.

IMO, it is ready to bottle, unless you oak it. Bottle it and leave them alone at room temperature for a couple months, try one. Wait a week and try another. Better = wait longer it might get better. No change = go ahead and start drinking them.
 
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Mizamook

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Thanks for the comment and suggestion. Also, thanks for the info re: the Mangrove Jack's yeast ... looks cool, and as I'm currently gravitating toward all-grain, I am keen to try various yeasts ... a recommendation means a lot.

The beer looks great from here. You could post if/when you hit that 1.026 and maybe your results when it's ready? If it was me, I wouldn't be too bummed if I didn't quite hit that.

I have a whiskey barrel RIS on deck or double-deck. It uses 12oz of whiskey and I forget the oak amount. It's a Dragon's Milk clone and it came out great. Many said 12oz was too much but it turned out. And it was 12% ABV. I used 2, US-05s and yeast nutrient last time but that was it for special handling. I've been impressed with Mangrove Jack's Belgian yeast (M-41) since it fermented the heck out of two quads (12%) and a tripel (11%) so I may pitch two of the M-42s (strong ale yeast) for the RIS coming up.
 
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Mizamook

Mizamook

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Oh! I do not disagree at all, well, maybe a tad : ) so I looked it up thinking I should look it up from the standpoint of "maybe there is something to it ... https://www.buildinggreen.com/news-article/toxic-chemicals-lurk-unfinished-wood-floors Yeah. Yuck. But having planed a bunch of this and found it strongly reminiscent of my woodworking days with salvaged wine cask staves, I could not help but have the little "idea" ping in my head. So better safe (or alive) than sorry!

I definitely would not be able to wait a couple whole months, either way ... but I DO promise to forget about most of it ... I'll even hide it from myself. In a couple months, in fact, we are coming up on the anniversary of bottling my first beer ... a "Zythos" Double IPA ... and I happen to have two of those left ... for the express purpose of celebrating that anniversary and seeing what happens to a beer (MY FIRST!) after a whole year.

But tonight it goes to the basement brewery/bottling area to settle, and tomorrow's hydrometer reading should be the last.

Thank you!


If that is in secondary, don't mess with it any more. Any agitation will add to oxidation of the beer.

I would definitely NOT use flooring wood for the beer. You can't be sure that it was not treated in some way.

If you want to oak it. I would buy oak produced for the purpose.

IMO, it is ready to bottle, unless you oak it. Bottle it and leave them alone at room temperature for a couple months, try one. Wait a week and try another. Better = wait longer it might get better. No change = go ahead and start drinking them.
 

CascadesBrewer

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1. Transfer 3 gallons to a 3 gal carboy, topped up & airlocked
2. Transfer 1 gallon to a jug, topped up & airlocked, or to multiple (or combination of) 64-oz growlers and 32-oz Grolsch growlers
3. Bottle the remainder in a bomber and 12-oz bottles, capped, with carbonation drops.
My advice would be to leave it all the the fermenter for about a month (seems that you are about there) then bottle it all. There is no need to move it around and split it up. If you want to open bottles to sample as the beer ages, feel free.

I would also be very leery of using oak flooring in a beer. It is cheap to buy some cubes. I would think most oak flooring would be red oak.
 
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Mizamook

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Oof. Well, SG (FG?) is/was at 1.030 (still) hydrometer reading in beer at 60F. So it's done, for whatever that's worth. Not sure why I thought it was 1.028 the other day, but it's been 1.030 no matter what, for the last week or so.

So I bottled. Mixed 5oz dextrose in 3/4 cup water, boil/stir ... result was a tad over 8oz liquid syrup, of which, after cooling, and finding hydrometer reading, only mixed in 5oz of that.

Hopefully my guess was right. Not sure how to guesstimate priming sugar in this case.

Yield: 46.75 bottles ... the .75 is in a glass ... thick, chewy, sweet, robust, a chocolate coffee overtone, with a hint of licorice? Not unpleasant.

Time will tell. Hope I didn't screw it up. (will report back either way)

Cheers!
 
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Mizamook

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Sweet! (no pun intended) Thank you.

Well, it looks like I overshot just a tad. I used Imperial stout (for density of CO2 density (2.2)) and closest calculation 4.375 gallons based on my 46 12oz bottles, plus another 10oz. 2.88oz priming sugar required, I used approx 3, based on my calcs.

So .. unless further fermentation of the complex sugars happens or not, it might work out! ... ?

(no bottle bombs or gushers please)

Here is a link to a priming sugar calculator https://www.northernbrewer.com/pages/priming-sugar-calculator
Just fill in the info and it gives you the quantities of different sugars you could use.
 
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Mizamook

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A followup! *Yeah, I know ... rare in this world of abandoned threads ... *

1 week and a day later after bottling ...

Had to sample the wares.

Let me Putin it this way: I cannot wait for the next sampling!

Aging this beer will be a very fun/interesting adventure. While I do have a few bits and bobs of commercial wine/beer grade oak on the way, this beer did not get the benefit of that. So I'll have to try again, hey?

For those of you still doing (always or occasionally) extract+grains brewing, I highly recommend this kit from HomeBrewSupply.com. "Bear-Chested Putin". I think they have an all-grain version too.

Yep. We are in Alaska, and after sampling this I swear I can see Russia from here.

Carbonation was minimal at this point; I'm happy with that. I'm a non-foam beer guy anyway, but there was plenty to add life and to a weighty dark brew. I'll leave it in our 62-68F living area for a few more days, then down to the "cellar" it goes, to be forgotten for as long as I can stand it.

The heft of this brew is tangible. It is not overly sweet, to my surprise, and has a good lingering tang to it, and judging by the amount of commas I am using, the ABV is (ahem) "up there". I am very sad that my glass is empty, but I have 45 bottles yet!

Patience will be difficult, but, since I am also branching now into all-grain, I have a specific goal in mind, so will be working toward re-creating this unapologetic black ale RIS on my own terms, no election tampering required.
 
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Mizamook

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Wifey and I split a 12oz of this RIS at lunch the last two days. It's very good. The carbonation level is actually a tad lower than I might have liked, but it is not too low, really. The reason I'm posting this here today is that I realized that this thread/experience with the RIS is almost identical to what I'm experiencing with my double IPA. The fact that I am enjoying my RIS suggests that my DIPA will be just fine, and I should get on with it. (Basically, the gravity readings are indicating it's done, very close to target, but I still see bubbles. The theory I'm entertaining is that the bubbles are from some other process originating in the yeast cake on the bottom, and once the beer is racked off of that, no more bubbles)

Oh, and yeah, we tend to split a beer at lunch ... we found that 1/2 a beer is not enough. We also found that 1 beer is not enough. And we like stronger beer, so more than 1 beer is not enough. Oops, too much, as in 1 of these RIS is more than enough, but when you are done you still want more. I know you know what I mean. So ... yeah .. 1/2 a beer at lunch, excepting "special occasions" like ... you know ... Tuesday.
 

kh54s10

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Don't drink those too fast. I would expect the flavor to get better over the next 5 months. Mine didn't reach peak until almost 9 months. It lasted almost 2 years, a bottle here and there. They were too good to sit and down a few.
 
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Mizamook

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I know, huh? This is one of the reasons it's so important for me to get my other beers going better and reliably.

Definitely shoved the majority of them up top in the back in the cellar (a basement shower stall repurposed) ... I really look forward to rediscovering them. And as far as too good to sit back and down a few ... well, I think more than one in a day is too much!

I'm regretting not putting up some in 32oz growlers though. Too risky to open and transfer, I think, so I'll remember to do that next time.

Don't drink those too fast. I would expect the flavor to get better over the next 5 months. Mine didn't reach peak until almost 9 months. It lasted almost 2 years, a bottle here and there. They were too good to sit and down a few.
 
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Mizamook

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Popping in again to say how superb this stout really is. Now late May 2020, my first drink of it was October 2019. Organizing my cellar I confirmed 26 12-oz bottles remain. Black gold!

Now sure if I should try my had at replicating this now that I'm doing all-grain, or whether it's much more cost-effective to go with the extract/grains kit. Since the all-grain kit is the same cost as the extract/partial grains kit ... and if I were to just try to do something similar with my own selection of grains, etc .. I doubt my mashing efficiencies (which are proving around 72% I think) would do it justice ...

Anyway, it's working out, and I plan to do more one way or another.
 

danimal92sport

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I need to get on something like this now so it’s hitting it’s stride in the depths of winter... thanks for the suggestion!
 
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Mizamook

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Better get to it then ... love to hear your results! Good luck. Oh ... and get some "WineStix" French or Hungarian oak or similar to drop into your secondary. : ) I will be doing that next time for sure.

I need to get on something like this now so it’s hitting it’s stride in the depths of winter... thanks for the suggestion!
 

danimal92sport

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Better get to it then ... love to hear your results! Good luck. Oh ... and get some "WineStix" French or Hungarian oak or similar to drop into your secondary. : ) I will be doing that next time for sure.
Yes, good call. I’ve got some light toast oak spirals for a sour I’m doing where I only need a small piece. Not French or anything too fancy but should work with some rye bourbon?
 
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Mizamook

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I've got limited oak experience, so don't ask me : ) .. plus I'm a tad cavalier and waxing experimental (I take my "used" oak stix and put them into a decanter ... I pour kit wine in there and let it sit, then enjoy a port glass of it (or two) with dessert. It helps me discover what oak does. I think ANY oak added to almost any wine, beer, or mead does dress up the flavours, round it out, and makes it more satisfying. It's really a neato phenomenon! Not fully sure what it does to beer, but have had some lovely oak and cedar beers locally.
 
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