Anyone have a favorite (extract-based) imperial stout recipe?

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Hoochin'Hank

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... that doesn't need 6+ months to age out? Altho, if it DOES need to age 6+ months, I can do that too, I suppose.

I'm thinking of attempting the following next friday (when my ferment bucket should be freed up, and it will have a nice juicy US-05 yeast-cake from a simple, 5% Amber Ale):

[3 gallons into the fermenter]

[45%] 3 lbs Briess Golden Light DME
[45%] 3 lbs Briess Sparkling Amber DME
[6%] 6 oz Bairds Roasted Barley 550L
[3%] 3 oz Briess Caramel 120L
[2%] 2 oz Briess Chocolate 350L

.6 oz Magnum @ 45 minutes (33 IBU)
.7 oz Willamette @ 30 minutes (12 IBU)
1 oz Kent Goldings @ 20 minutes (15 IBU)

Software predictions -- OG: 1.090, FG:1.018, ABV: 10.3%, IBU: 60, BU/GU: 0.66, Color: 37 SRM

Other dark roasts I have available for substitutions are:
Fawcett Dark Crystal
Briess Black Malt
Briess Midnight Wheat

Other hops I have on hand are: 2 oz Perle, 2 oz Cascade
Other yeasts I have are: S-04, and Nottingham

(And if you've been following any of my misadventure posts, I now have a good way to mill my specialty grains, no more hammers, cuz that was awful!)
 
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VikeMan

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I'm not an extract brewer, so will refrain from critiquing the recipe. But in my experience, the "secret" to brewing a big stout that doesn't need a lot of aging is to pitch a lot of healthy yeast, i.e. lager-like cell counts, 1 Million Cells per Milliliter per °P minimum, and to ferment at low temperatures. I ferment all of my big stouts at 60F with WLP001.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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I was able to maintain 62F to 66F during the 10 day ferment of my amber just by using ice packs next to my fermenter. Not sure I could do any lower than that without moving to my fridge, and my fridge won't go any HIGHER than 55F.

Would the US-05 yeast-cake of a 5% amber batch have enough cells? If I were to skip the yeast-cake, and just pitch new, would a full pack of US-05 be sufficient for this 3 gallon batch?

(you probably gave me enuff info with that 1 million cells per ml per deg P, but I've been drinking!)
 

RM-MN

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I was able to maintain 62F to 66F during the 10 day ferment of my amber just by using ice packs next to my fermenter. Not sure I could do any lower than that without moving to my fridge, and my fridge won't go any HIGHER than 55F.

Would the US-05 yeast-cake of a 5% amber batch have enough cells? If I were to skip the yeast-cake, and just pitch new, would a full pack of US-05 be sufficient for this 3 gallon batch?

(you probably gave me enuff info with that 1 million cells per ml per deg P, but I've been drinking!)
Your fridge won't maintain higher than 55F with its internal thermostat. Add an external controller and it can be maintained much higher. Inkbird is the best known brand of such controller.

A yeast cake is often said to contain enough yeast to make 4 new batches of the same size. Technically you would be overpitching but there are few, if any, drawbacks to that in this context.

My stouts were drinkable at 3 weeks from bottling. They were much better at 6 months. One higher ABV was still improving at 2 years. Think of how many yeast cells there are suspended in your beer so that you can carbonate the bottles. In my opinion, yeast isn't the best tasting substance. Given lots of time, much of the yeast will flocculate and settle out.
 

DBhomebrew

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A very big beer with lots of roast. It might be tasty in a few months, but it'll likely be tastier, smoother, given 6, 9, or more. Go ahead and drink it early, but be sure to reserve a few bottles for a 12mo tasting. It'll help increase your patience for the next time you brew a big beer.

A few recipes in here...

 

Bobby_M

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I have a couple of notes.

Yeast cakes have enough cells to do a lot more work, but the yeast is generally in less than ideal health. Be sure to aerate the heck out of your wort to help with that.

These big beers generate a LOT of heat when pitched with the appropriate yeast pitches. I've fermented 1.100 stouts and barleywines on yeast cakes before and measured a temperature 12F hotter in the core of the fermenter than the surrounding ambient temp. If you find a spot that's 68, it may be 80F. That's where the fusel alcohols are pushed and that's where the long aging period comes from.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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I have a couple of notes.
Thanks for the info, I was aware of the oxygenation needed for liquid yeast, but have added that step in big bold letters for brew-day to-do's to make sure I don't forget.

If I set my fridge at 50F, that should keep the beer well under 65F during even the most rapid stages of fermentation, but will that be too cold once most of the sugars are converted to ethanol? I should probably get a refractometer before attempting this...
 

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With a batch this small, internal temp may not be as bad. I like using Nottingham for stouts so that I can ferment at temps below 55 in a fridge and be fine.

Sounds like you are committed to US-05. I'm not sure if it can ferment under 55F (I know specs say down to 64F, but I bet if can go lower). But if you can keep it in low 60's, I think it will be fine.

Also, tip for future extract stouts - I've had a lot of good results brewing a separate light beer, and then just mixing an extra 1-2 gallons of that wort with dark or extra dark DME. At some point, it became common knowledge to only use light DME and then use darker malts. But I've had a lot of luck doing the opposite. Light grains and dark DME.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Definitely not totally committed to the yeast-cake idea! I just thought it might work out. My main goal is to try and make a not-awful imperial stout that I could feel proud to share with friends/family over Xmas. (so if it was decent 3 months after brewing, I'd be very happy).

If I'm able to borrow a refractor from my friend who works at a local winery (difficulty: it's harvest season, not sure if he would let me take it home for a week), I think I'll go with the yeast-cake, but if not, I'll probably go with Nottingham in the fridge.
 

RM-MN

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I've had a lot of good results brewing a separate light beer, and then just mixing an extra 1-2 gallons of that wort with dark or extra dark DME. At some point, it became common knowledge to only use light DME and then use darker malts. But I've had a lot of luck doing the opposite. Light grains and dark DME.
If you're willing to share a favorite recipe (or two), there's the "I Brewed A Favorite Rcipes Today" topic over in the "Extract Brewing" forum.
 

DBhomebrew

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My main goal is to try and make a not-awful imperial stout that I could feel proud to share with friends/family over Xmas. (so if it was decent 3 months after brewing, I'd be very happy).

Not-awful doesn't sound like something I'd be proud to share. Instead of trying to rush a beer like an imperial stout, why not brew a full flavored American brown or moderate stout? Three months would be enough to make them pride worthy with big, bold flavors.

If you're deadset on an imperial, keep it to the barely imperial end of things. 8-9% might be decent by Xmas. 12% not likely.

If I'm able to borrow a refractor from my friend who works at a local winery (difficulty: it's harvest season, not sure if he would let me take it home for a week), I think I'll go with the yeast-cake, but if not, I'll probably go with Nottingham in the fridge.

Huh? And, yeah, they go for ~$15 on Amazon.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Appreciate your input @DBhomebrew (and that earlier link to byo.com with the imp stout recipes)! I definitely want to pursue my imperial, but understand that the odds if it being tasty by Xmas are rather slim. Seems like the best time to brew an imperial was 9 months ago. That makes the next best time this weekend! :)

How the heck had I never thought to check Amazon for a refractor before now?!? I thought they ran around $50 plus...

But other than all that, nobody ever mentioned anything about my actual ingredients. I'm mostly hoping to avoid any big burnt coffee flavors, with a not very thick body, and a little "dryness" from the roast barley. Anything look obviously out of line?
 

DBhomebrew

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Seems like the best time to brew an imperial was 9 months ago. That makes the next best time this weekend! :)

Indeed! I've got a historical Russian Imperial brewed just before my second son was born. He's 15mo now. I've snuck a few tastes, but I'll share it for the first time with family this holiday season. Another big beer I brewed last New Year's will also make it's first appearance.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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I saw on one of the online vendors website (ritebrew.com), that the Briess Dark extract was made with:
  • 30% base malt
  • 13% caramel 60L
  • 54% munich 10L
  • 3% black malt
So I'm presuming that they use the same recipe for the Amber extract, just skipping the black malt. Not sure how much accounting for anything I'm doing, way too much of a newb for that (thus all my dumb questions and comments on this awesome forum), mostly just that the two beers I've made with amber extract so far have turned out better than I'd dared to hope (especially with decent temp control and a little choc350 -- even while warm and flat from the hydrometer sample).

If I was going to skip one of the grains in the recipe I posted at the top of this thread, it'd definitely be the cara120
 
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nobody ever mentioned anything about my actual ingredients.
I thought the original recipe looked fine.

I saw on one of the online vendors website (ritebrew.com)

for "Traditional Dark", the grain bill percentages are available in product information at Briess's web site (start here): "a blend of 54% Bonlander® Munich Malt 10L, 30% Base malt, 13%, Caramel Malt 60L, 3% Black Malt, and water".

With the exception of Amber DME/LME, malts used to make the other DME/LME products are also available at that page.

I'm presuming that they use the same recipe for the Amber extract, just skipping the black malt.
A number of years ago, Briess made a couple of "style recipe specific" DME/LME products (Porter, Amber). Here (link) is a HomeBrewTalk topic that mentions Porter LME with a grain list. Until a couple of years ago, there were some articles from the mid 2000s at Briess's site that talked in more detail about these products. I think the articles in still available in the "Way Back Machine" but I can't immediately find them. There are a couple of articles from the mid 2000s from Briess in their Resource Library (link)

Assuming that Amber DME/LME is intended to be a base malt for Amber (and other red) ales, its' plausible (similar to what @DBhomebrew mentioned) that Amber DME is mostly base malt, some munich, and some crystal 60 (maybe 85%/5%/10% - link). I haven't seen Amber Ale recipes that are 30% base malt, 55% munich, and 15% Crystal 60L.



eta: link to articles (2005-ish) on recipe specific extracts.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Interesting @BrewnWKopperKat! I wonder why they (Briess) are so coy about the formula?!? Nonetheless, I really like it so far, I can see myself making a whole bunch more ambers and variations thereof with different hops and grains. I would have actually ordered a 3lb bag of Briess Dark DME to experiment with, but ritebrew only had it in LME, so I passed.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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[3 gallons into the fermenter]

[45%] 3 lbs Briess Golden Light DME
[45%] 3 lbs Briess Sparkling Amber DME
[6%] 6 oz Bairds Roasted Barley 550L
[3%] 3 oz Briess Caramel 120L
[2%] 2 oz Briess Chocolate 350L

.6 oz Magnum @ 45 minutes (33 IBU)
.7 oz Willamette @ 30 minutes (12 IBU)
1 oz Kent Goldings @ 20 minutes (15 IBU)
So I made this wort this afternoon, with 2 small changes -- used 1.5 oz of the Cara 120 (because it didn't smell as nice as I'd hoped, after grinding). The other change was to the hop schedule - I did:
.6 oz magnum (12% aa) @ 30 (24 IBU)
.7 oz willamette (5.7% aa) @30 (13 IBU)
1 oz kent goldings (5.6% aa) @20 (15 IBU)

After boil, I pulled hops out immediately, and got temperature down to 150 within about 15 minutes. When I tasted a drop, it was horribly bitter! Software suggests an extra 15 minutes of hops utilization would take wort from 52 IBU to 63 IBU (bu ratio of 0.55 vs 0.69). I double-checked the AA% listed on each of the hops bags and input them into software. Did I screw something up? Or does a big roasty stout always destined to taste so bitter, just after boil?

At any rate, it's in the fridge at 55F and already bubbling away (full pack of dry lallemand nottingham). Here's to hoping it tastes decent by Xmas (2023).
 

DBhomebrew

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Bitterness will mellow through fermentation and over the course of conditioning. Write down some notes now. Describe the flavors and mouth feel. Do that again when you bottle in a few weeks. Then again when you sneak a bottle this Christmas. Then again, etc.
 

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Or does a big roasty stout always destined to taste so bitter, just after boil?
Any wort will taste different than the beer it produces. Hops always seem sharper in the wort to me compared to the finished product. It's really just to early to tell or worry about it. In a week or two is when you'll get a better idea, and even then for a higher ABV beer it's still not the final say.

High ABV beers are tougher. You can read everything in the world but there's no substitute for experience.
 

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Are you going to bottle? I'd pop one open every couple weeks. Every recipe and every taste bud is different. You can kind of follow the journey and also may end up at a point you think it's delicious sooner than later. Do try keeping some around a long time as well (perhaps almost all of them) but don't be afraid to try along the way.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Yes to bottling (why does everyone whine about bottling? It's kind of relaxing, if you ask me)! My plan is to leave it in the ferment bucket for 4 weeks (@ 55F in a fridge that won't go any higher than 55), then transfer to a second bucket to mellow out until March in a cool dark corner of the basement (so another 6 months, then I'm going to bottle, allow to carbonate for 2 weeks, and if they're any good, drink them all in short order! :ban:

Oh $deity-of-your-choice, grant me the patience...
 

RM-MN

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Yes to bottling (why does everyone whine about bottling? It's kind of relaxing, if you ask me)! My plan is to leave it in the ferment bucket for 4 weeks (@ 55F in a fridge that won't go any higher than 55), then transfer to a second bucket to mellow out until March in a cool dark corner of the basement (so another 6 months, then I'm going to bottle, allow to carbonate for 2 weeks, and if they're any good, drink them all in short order! :ban:

Oh $deity-of-your-choice, grant me the patience...
Change your plans! The fermentation only needs to be cool during the initial ferment, 3-5 days. When it slows down, let the beer warm so the yeast complete the ferment and cleanup. At a constant 55 degrees the yeast may shut down before completion. I start my fermentation a little warmer (60-62) and leave the beer there for a week, then let it warm to 72 for the remaining time in the fermenter.

Do not transfer to another bucket!!! Instead, at the end of the 4 weeks, go directly to bottling and let the beer condition. Moving the beer to another vessel opens the opportunity for oxidation and infection. That can be mitigated by careful transferring to a CARBOY that is filled to the neck to limit the amount of space. With that small space the escaping CO2 dissolved in the beer will fill that space and prevent oxygen loving bacteria from moving in. The bucket has too much surface and space for that to happen.
 

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Completely agree to the above. Finish off any fermenting at room temp. Feel free to let it sit in primary a few weeks. No 2nd bucket. It will do nothing for you and is just a big chance to get something in there to spoil it. When it's done, it's done, bottle it.
 
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I 100% believe you can have a respectable imperial stout ready to enjoy by the holidays. If you like Old Rasputin by North Coast, that's a 9% RIS that isn't aged, there are extract clone recipes out there. I have two pieces of advice to get it done fast and done right.

First, separate all your dark malts, crush them and then steep overnight in cold water, then add the black syrupy result to the pot in the second half of the boil. Cold steeping dark malts avoids extracting the acrid, harsh, and bitter compounds that otherwise take a long time to age out. Same as cold brew coffee, its much less bitter. Don't worry about not mashing them, there's not much starch left to convert in dark kilned malts. What little there is will add body to the finished beer in the form of dextrins. Cold steeping isn't as thorough at extracting sugars though, and you won't want to squeeze the spent grain at all, but you can compensate for this loss by increasing the dark malts a bit.

Second, some of us have had good results with Lutra Kveik in big stouts, it's good up to 15% and works well at a wide range of temperatures from 70-95F and some like to pitch at higher temps to get it going quickly. I'm not a fan of fermenting hot for speed, regular room temps are fine as long as you cool the wort down below 70F before pitching. What's key here is that it won't throw off flavors that take a long time to subside, and it quickly cleans up after itself then floccs out so you can make the most of what little time for aging you do have.
 
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IslandLizard

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What @Jayjay1976 says.^

Also, since you're brewing extract, don't boil all that extract for an hour. There's no need for that, and boiling (concentrated) extract that long may make it more difficult to get it to attenuate to a respectable FG (and accompanying high ABV).

Boil half a pound of extract with your hops in 2 gallons of water for an hour. A 30' boil is probably plenty, perhaps use a little more bittering hops for the same IBU target.
  1. After the 30' hop boil, add the dark liquor from the steeped dark and crystal malts.
  2. If necessary, top up with water to 3 gallons, heat to 150F.
  3. Then stir in the remainder of your extracts until fully dissolved.
  4. Bring the wort slowly back to 150F while stirring well (scrape the bottom) to prevent scorching.
  5. Keep at 150F for 15 minutes to pasteurize.
  6. Chill as far down as you can.
  7. Transfer to your fermenter, and top up to 5 or 5.5 gallons with (ice) cold water.
  8. Oxygenate (or aerate) well and pitch the right amount of healthy yeast.
  9. Since it's a high gravity beer, 12-18 hours after pitching, but before active fermentation has started, oxygenate (or aerate) for a 2nd time.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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If you like Old Rasputin by North Coast, that's a 9% RIS that isn't aged, there are extract clone recipes out there.
Thanks Jayjay! I've had Old Rasputin a few times, it's good, but I've always thought it was a little too acrid/bitter (at least until I'm half-way thru the beer) to be a regular purchase. If I could make a not-so harsh/acrid/bitter Old Rasputin clone by cold-steeping instead of hot steeping, that would be amazing! Do you have a recommended volume of water to use per-ounce of steeping grain for the cold-steep?

Also, thanks to everyone setting me straight on aging in a secondary bucket, it'll go straight to bottles once FG is stable.
 

GoodTruble

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Overnight cold steep and 30 minute boil is very interesting with my brew day approach where I only brew once a month but brew multiple beers each time. By overnight steeping and preheating water to boil in a brewzilla, I could knock out one beer in the first 45 minutes......
 
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Do you have a recommended volume of water to use per-ounce of steeping grain for the cold-steep?
It's not an exact science, not for me at least. I use a gallon jar because it's easy to pull the grain bag out, this capacity seems to be working well for my 6 gallon batches. The night before brew day I put the grains in a fine nylon hop sack, tie it closed and drop it in the jar, then fill it up to the neck with water (I use RO but bottled drinking water works too) and either leave it on the counter over night or put it in the fridge, hasn't made any difference as far as I can tell. On brew day morning I pull the bag and let it drip into a bowl or whatever to catch runoff, then with about 20 minutes left in the boil I dump the jar and bowl into the kettle, leaving any sediment behind.

I also recommend using de-husked aka de-bittered malts i.e. Carafa Special (thanks @IslandLizard ) I/II/III vs. traditional dark malts.
 
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I transfer my Imperial Stouts from fermenter into bourbon or whiskey barrel then to keg for cold conditioning then to bottle. I do all those steps very carefully without introducing oxygen. As the guys have already suggested, if you can’t transfer to the conditioning phase without introducing any oxygen, then best to bottle out of primary and let it age there. Bulk cold conditioning really is a great step for these big beers, but it has to be done no oxygen.

If you do end up with a long conditioning phase in your process before bottling, don’t forget to add bottling yeast. I’ve found CBC-1 yeast does the best job. I have 14% RIS that’s fully carbonated within a week of bottling with the CBC-1.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Just took a refractometer reading, to see how close to done I was, and I gotta say, it tastes amazing! That super-harsh bitterness I noted immediately post-boil is gone. It's still pretty sweet, but I'm feeling much better about this one! Hopefully it's finished by this weekend, can't wait to enjoy a whole bottle!
 

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I just brewed a stout with midnight wheat. I'd use that one instead of other roasted malts if I'd want to limit roast derived bitterness. Midnight wheat, or dark wheat or whatever name is the least acrid dark grain/malt I know.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Refractometer doesn't seem to have changed between Tuesday and today (brought to 68F a week ago), so I went ahead and took a sample for the hydometer test -- gravity is exactly 1.018-ish, so I think it's done (software predicted 1.019). The sample tasted quite boozy, but also quite bitter and sweet and flat.

Should I put it back in the fridge to cold crash until Sunday when I could bottle, or leave it at room temp for another week?
 

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Should I put it back in the fridge to cold crash until Sunday when I could bottle, or leave it at room temp for another week?
Um....no....or maybe yes. It won't hurt the beer either way. If you cold crash you will need to let it warm up to carbonate in the bottle. If you leave it at room temp for another week or even more, the yeast will flocculate and drop out leaving you with less in the bottle.
 
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Hoochin'Hank

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Was going to bottle today, but my hydrometer reading has gone down to 1.016 -- which I suppose means either the Nottingham is still slowly finishing up, or something wild got into it. The sweetness I noted Friday seems to be completely gone now, so hopefully things are actually done now, but at this point, I think I'll wait at least another 24 hours.

I don't really have enough of this beer to keep discarding hydro samples! For now, I put some plastic cling wrap over the top of my sample tube (with hydrometer inside). That should be an accurate way to know what the rest of the beer inside the bucket is doing, no? (they are right next to each other, at room temperature, which is currently 65F).
 
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