Bourbon Barrel RI/Oatmeal Stout Recipe Help

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Mar 3, 2015
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Fort Worth
Long time lurker of these forums and I need a bit of help. I brew all grain BIAB 5 gallon batches and I've had great success with my brews. In April of this year I got one of the best birthday presents ever, an 8 gallon Bourbon Barrel from Woodinville Whiskey Co, courtesy my brother. With life and a few other brews ahead of this I'm finally going to make something to put in this barrel this weekend. I'm a huge fan of Founders KBS/CBS so I've taken some inspiration from the recipe published in Zymurgy to design my own. This is my first big bad stout so I wanted to get some feedback on it all.

You'll have to bear with me because this will be quite an involved process because my equipment is only set up for 5 gallon batches (9.5 gallon kettle) but it's an 8 gallon barrel.

From Beersmith:
OG: 1.103
est FG: 1.024
est ABV: 10.56%
Color: 56.2 SRM
Bitterness: 73.2 IBUs
Batch size: 9.5 gallon (split into two carboys)
65 minute boil

TBD but I'll use Bru'n to get a malty dark profile

Mash - Full Body 156F
56.3% Bries 2-row
14.1% Flaked oats
5.6% Biscuit
2.8% Crystal 120
8.5% DME (add at end of boil)

Cold steep (steep over night room temp, rinse with 1/2 gallon, boil 15 minutes, split into carboys)
5.6% chocolate malt
4.2% roasted barley
2.8% Black Patent

3 oz Magnum 60 Min 61.2 IBUs
3 oz Willamette 15 Min 11.9 IBUs

Gigayeast Norcal grown with starter to 600B cells. This was the most I could do with my 2L flask.

65F 4-7 days, slow ramp to 70F and condition for 3 more weeks, transfer to barrel (I'm expecting only a week here as it's freshly dumped), move to carboys for further conditioning (see below).

Here's where I'm excited...I'm going to split the batch 3 ways and make 4 beers
1. Age on 2oz Ethopian coffee beans from a local roaster
2. Age on vanilla beans
3. Age on cocoa nibs
4. Blend 1, 2, and 3 to taste
I'll keg all 4, maybe kegging #4 last and bottle off of the kegs when I like the carbonation. I expect to age these for 4-6 months and intend to keep some for many months/years thereafter.

My thoughts behind this:
1. I upped the OG and oats from KBS because I want this thing to be thick. Not a dessert beer but something you sip on and drink on occasion. Is 14% too high?
2. I will add 0 top up water but I'll be blending a cold steep with a regular brew. I've never done this. Should I up anything on the dark end to account for the "smoother" flavors? I have upped the chocolate a bit from KBS because I like the character from that malt.
3. I added the biscuit for a more malty flavor, is 5.6% enough? With so many other intense flavors coming from the darker grains not sure if this will show up.
4. IBUs are high but since I plan to age 4-6 months I dont want them to drop off completely.
5. I love CBS but everything I read about Maple syrup says I need a ton of it to really get any flavor. Since I'm not looking to thin things out I dropped it. I'd really like to make a CBS variant from this too just not sure if it's possible?
6. My biggest worry is I'll have a thin watery stout that tastes like watered down bourbon. Any suggestions on maintaining body would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry it's so long but I've been giving it a lot of thought. Thanks for the help!


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Jul 8, 2014
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1. Thats a really, really, thick beer. Ive never had KBS so I dont know what you are going for, but when I make an RIS im usually do everything I can to dry it out (sugar, mashing at 146) , and its still has alot of body. A 1.110 beer will. Im more in the john courage camp of RIS's though, so YMMV, but my point is, you really have to try to get a thin 11% stout. I think you are over compensating and are going to have syrup.

2. No idea.

3. 5.6% is alot in a big beer. That will be above the taste threshold easily. If you want toastiness, Id swap the 2row for MO, that will likely give a better toasted flavor; too much biscuit can give a dry harsh flavor, though with the aging here its likely to be ok.

4. I honestly think you need more IBUs to balance the beer. Id aim for 120. In 6-9 months when you drink this the IBUs are likely to be nearly halved.

6. Unless you are adding 20% sugar this is really not a concern.

7. Not familiar with the yeast strain, but make sure it can handle a 11% beer. Make sure you pitch big, and rouse the yeast if it drops out, give it a ton of o2 and nutrient. Most yeasts are going need a little love to get there.