High ABV Stout Clone

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Well-Known Member
Jan 10, 2020
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Minneapolis Area
Hello all,

I have been extract or partial mash brewing for a few years (always buying a kit or following an online recipe) and would like to attempt this extract recipe from BYO. I do have some questions/concerns before starting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Imprint Beer Co.’s Black Forest Cake Stout clone - Brew Your Own

Imprint Beer Co.’s Black Forest Cake Stout clone

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.127 FG = 1.033
IBU = 65 SRM = 69 ABV = 14.6%

11 lbs. (5 kg) extra light dried malt extract
1 lbs. (0.45 kg) Munich dried malt extract
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Carafoam® malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) British chocolate malt (350 °L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) British crystal malt (65 °L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) roasted barley
12 oz. (0.34 kg) Carafa® Special III
3 lb. (1.4 kg) Vintner’s Harvest sweet cherry puree
16 AAU Magnum hops (90 min.) (1 oz./28 g at 16% alpha acids)
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) Cholaca liquid cacao (original flavor)
5 Madagascar vanilla beans
Wyeast 1968 (London ESB) or White Labs WLP002 (English Ale) or Lallemand London ESB English-Style Ale yeast
2⁄3 cup corn sugar (if priming)

Step by step
Bring 4.9 gallons (18.5 L) of water to approximately 162 °F (72 °C) and hold there. Steep milled specialty grains in grain bags for 15 minutes. Remove the grain bags and let drain fully. Add dried malt extract while stirring and stir until completely dissolved. Bring the wort to a boil.

Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list.

After the boil, turn off heat and chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast. There should be 5 gallons (19 L) of cooled wort in the fermenter. Be sure to have room in your fermenter for the cherry puree.

Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C) for 10 days (adding the fruit puree on day 6), then raise the temperature to 70 °F (21 °C) for 3–4 days. Carefully rack into a secondary vessel containing the Cholaca and vanilla beans, and age to desired taste. Crash the beer to 35 °F (2 °C) for 48 hours. Bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

1. Most of the kits/recipes I have used recommended steeping for at least 30 minutes. This one only for 15 minutes. Would steeping longer change the taste/profile that much?

2. Having trouble finding the Munich DME especially with stores that carry most of the other ingredients (I don’t want to pay shipping charges for 1lb of DME or spend hours searching). What is a good DME substitution or can I use Munich LME?

3. The recipe says to add DME before boil. I usually steep, bring to boil, take off burner, then add DME/LME and bring back to boil. Sometimes add DME/LME late in boil if recipe states. What are your opinions?

4. I have attempted to brew a couple high ABV beers in the past without much luck getting the FG anywhere near where it is supposed to be. I have researched/read/talked to local brew stores but just do not seem to get it right. With this attempt (OG 1.127 FG 1.033) which of the three yeast options do you think would work best for this high gravity beer and how many should I use? Any specific procedures other than a starter and just pitching?

Thank you.
1. My experience is that it takes at least 20 minutes to extract all the flavor from steeping grains so yes it might change the taste if you steep for 30 minutes. Just as a reminder, a recipe is only a record of how someone else did it, not a chemical formula that has to be followed exactly.

2. Munich LME would be the correct substitution but it will take a little more of it than of DME because LME hasn't been concentrated as much. I probably wouldn't worry too much about it. If I could only get LME that weighed the same as the DME it substituted for I would go with that. See the above reference about recipes.

3. I've seen reference to needing some DME or LME in the entire boil for the best hop utilization. Most of it can go at the end of the boil. See reference to recipes in answer #1.

4. When you brew with extract, if you use the correct amount of extract and the correct amount of water you can't miss the predicted OG. You can have a bad reading if you use top off water as mixing the concentrated wort with the added water is really difficult as the wort is so much more dense than the water you add and it won't mix easily. Stir, stir, stir. Reach as deeply into the wort as your spoon will reach. Stir some more. You still may not get a complete mixing. Trust that the makers of the extract will have accurately marked how much sugar that the extract will have. You will get the beer that was predicted.
I have made quite a few extract RIS beers now. They are the best beers I’ve made. I put in a bit of effort because RIS is about my favourite beer. This is what works for me.

1. I steep my Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt for 24 hours at room temperature to avoid any acrid flavours from steeping hot. The rest of the grains I steep for 1 hour then drain and rinse with more hot water.

2. I only use Dark Munich malt in my RIS, not the DME version. Why not buy some grain and throw it into your steep/mash? You’ll get conversion and great flavour. I use 0.5kg in my recipe.

3. I use LME and pour it in with 10 minutes left in the boil. I don’t use DME. I see no harm in adding the DME later in the boil.

4. Pitch lots and lots and lots of yeast for a RIS. A successful ferment is when the FG gets below 1.030. I have no trouble getting from 1.120 to 1.025. One thing I do with my RIS is use dry yeast. 4 packets of M42, and importantly rehydrated before pitching.
Cloud Surfer,

So I've been reading up on cold steeping and would like to give it a try. You recommend 24 hours room temp for the Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt. Can I use a Muslin bag or just dump into the water and strain when done? Also, what do I do with the remaining specialty grains? Steep at 155 for 30 minutes on brew day?

What I do is put the Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt straight into a pot of water. In a ratio of 3L per kg (sorry I’m using that new fangled measurement system). On brew day I pour the pot through a strainer and collect the liquid in another pot. Then I rinse the grains with another 1L of cold water.

Then you can steep your other speciality grains as you describe. I tend to steep for one hour, but I don’t think it matters much. I strain and rinse my steeped grains with 70C water.

Then bring your speciality grain liquid to boil and do what you normally do. I only add the steeped Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt liquid with 10 minutes left in the boil. I make sure I get it near boiling in its own pot just before adding it so the big pot doesn’t go too far off the boil. That way the dark steep gets only 10 minutes at the boil and not 60 minutes. Again it might not matter so much, but that’s just what I do in trying to get smooth roast and chocolate flavours.
So I brewed this yesterday with the community recommendations (all went well) and had fermentation starting almost immediately at an average level. (OG was above 1130 and I pitched the four M42 rehydrated yeast into 5 gal of wort) This morning found my blow off pitcher overflowing. I replaced the tube and pitcher and within a couple hours still having extremely aggressive fermentation. I'm assuming there is nothing I can do about it and just have to wait it out? Also, nothing I can do about the lost beer accumulating in the container? Please see attached photo
That’s going to be a big beer. Nice.

I ferment at 18C/64F with the M42 and it progresses calmly though rapidly. I’ve never had to use a blow off tube, the airlock works fine. I’ve seen people who ferment this hot and it makes a huge mess.
Fermentation has calmed down this morning. Best temp I could get in the room was 66F so that's probably why the big mess.

Yeah, room temp was 66 but the temp of your beer was probably significantly higher. I did a split batch of imperial stout in October. One of the fermenters didn't have temp control but I put a temp probe in it to monitor how hot it was getting. It did get up to 9*F hotter than room temp and that wasn't quite as big of a beer as yours. So I'd say it would be reasonable to expect that your fermentation got up towards ~75*F. I would agree, that is probably why the mess.

On future batches, you could always try fermcap to keep the krausen down during fermentation. That way you don't lose so much volume.
I have attempted to brew a couple big beers in the past (Avery Tweak and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout clones) which turned out OK but not great. My issue was always getting the FG down to where it should be. Used the yeast and amounts recommended in the recipes but never seemed to have aggressive primary fermentation like this time. Those beers turned out drinkable but a bit sweet. Anyway, using the M42 yeast this time I'm curious when I open the fermenter on Saturday to add the Cherry Puree what my beer volume level will be and what the gravity will be. A great but expensive adventure on this one. :)
Final product turned out pretty damn good. Ended up with only 3 gallons going into the keg. :( ABV at 12%. :) Has a nice Dessert Beer character and aroma. Taste is not super sweet like some of those beers can get. Thick and smooth mouthfeel. Up front it's roasty and a bit boozy with heavy chocolate vanilla. Some cherry flavor in the background. Very very happy with it. :thumbsup: Hopefully next time I can control the fermentation better and get 5 gallons. :bigmug:

Sounds like you made a great beer. I know it’s common knowledge, but no matter how good it is now, it will be a lot better in 6 or 12 months. I have 3 RIS batches at various ages. The flavours in the 1 year old have all melded together and its drinking super smooth now.
Very cool! I took some German language and lit courses in college. One semester the professor had a party at his house after the final.
I made a Black Forest Cake and in addition to "filling" and frosting, which had cherries as you noted.
I also sprinkled (a lot) of kirschwasser (cherry Brandy) all over the cake layers.
It was very popular, especially with the professor.
Not saying you should change your recipe at all...I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it and am glad it turned out well. I just wanted to tell that story...most Black Forest cakes don't have "the hard stuff" :ghostly:
I am a bit impatient and tend to keg and drink a little early. Will most definitely brew this again and try to age longer. Right now I have a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout clone in secondary the last 3 months. Hoping to wait til August to keg. :mug:
Cloud Surfer,

So I've been reading up on cold steeping and would like to give it a try. You recommend 24 hours room temp for the Roasted Barley and Chocolate Malt. Can I use a Muslin bag or just dump into the water and strain when done? Also, what do I do with the remaining specialty grains? Steep at 155 for 30 minutes on brew day?

Be careful about room temp overnight steeping. I did that one time and it took on a sour edge giving me a Guinness clone instead of the regular Irish stout that I was going for.

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