High FG Stout in 3 Months?

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Spat609

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I'll be graduating soon and wanted to make a sweet stout (along the lines of a Russian Imperial or "pastry" stout) for the special day. Due to moving around, I will only be able to age it for about 3 months. I recently had my first bourbon county stout and was hoping to make something like it, but I don't have a year to age it, only three months.

1) From what I understand, this means I won't be able to make anything more than about 9-10% ABV to avoid leftover acetaldehyde is this true? What other restrictions are there with a 3 month aging period?

2) Does anyone have recommendations for a sweet, full stout that doesn't need to age for so long? I'd be willing to sacrifice ABV if there is a way to make a high FG (1.030+) beer.

3) Could I scale down a heavier recipe (i.e. BCS clone) to 9% ABV? If so, is there anything I should keep in mind? Could I add maltodextrin to bring the FG back up to ~1.040?

(I brew all-grain and bottle carbonate. Kegging is out of the question for now, but I would be willing to use extracts or unfermentables to help with the sweetness)
 

couchsending

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Can you control fermentation? How do you oxygenate? What’s your plan for the yeast?

Bourbon County is aged for over a year in bourbon barrels for other reasons.

Is your mash tun big enough to hold the grain bill for a 10% beer that finishes north 1.050? That’s a ton of grain.
 
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Spat609

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What about something like a milk stout? It should be a little sweeter and won't require a long aging period. I've also brewed this recipe and it turned out pretty good.

Sweet Stout - Left Hand Milk Stout Clone
I've only ever had one milk stout and wasn't a huge fan, but that's likely due to that specific beer, not the style. It looks like this is recipe is a hit with everyone that makes it. Thanks!
 

myndflyte

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I've only ever had one milk stout and wasn't a huge fan, but that's likely due to that specific beer, not the style. It looks like this is recipe is a hit with everyone that makes it. Thanks!
Yeah I felt like it had stout character but was nice and smooth because of the lactose.
 
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Spat609

Spat609

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Can you control fermentation?
I can control ferm/ageing temp well (+/- 1 F) between 63F - 75F

How do you oxygenate
I oxygenate by shaking the carboy for ~30 minutes. (6 x 5 minute sessions)


What’s your plan for the yeast?
Not sure yet. I was thinking something with little character and low attenuation. And then using a killer yeast like cbc-1 for bottling if needed. Any recommendations?


Is your mash tun big enough
Yes. My tun and kettle are big enough for making heavy beers (1.110) and I can do long boils too
 

couchsending

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Shaking isn’t going to get you to an ideal place for this big of a beer. And you ideally should aerate again 12-18 hours later.

Since you don’t need to oxygenate dry yeast I might push you in that direction. US05 ideally.

You can find some Weldwerks recipes online for huge base stouts that then get adjuncted. I think you can also find one from Abnormal too. All on CB&B.

If you can get a clean fermentation you don’t need to age a beer like this forever. Most of these crazy adjuncted pastry stouts that aren’t barrel aged aren’t aged for extended periods of time. Prolly 2 month beers I’d assume.
 
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Spat609

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Thanks! I didn't know that about dry yeast and oxygenation.

I found Weldwerks' chocolate achromatic stout recipe on CB&B and I'll consider it too! I like that it doesn't take too long to age, doesn't use lactose (for my lactose intolerant friends) and I can play with cacao and vanilla beans.
 

thehaze

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This is what I brewed in February. Good at two weeks from bottling, better after 1 month. Expensive.

Size: 28 L
Beer Style: PASTRY MILK STOUT
SRM: 60
Target IBUs: 50
Grain bill: 17 Kg - double mash
Mash time: 60 minutes
Boil time: 120 minutes
Mash water: 20.00 l
Mash water: 20.00 l
Sparge water: 0 l
..............................................................................................................................
Malt & Sugar
2 x 3000 gr BESTMALZ Pilsner
2 x 2500 gr Simpsons Imperial
2 x 500 gr Simpsons DRC 120L
2 x 500 gr Simpsons Light Crystal 40L
2 x 500 gr Thomas Fawcett Roasted Rye
2 x 500 gr Thomas Fawcett Pale Chocolate
2 x 500 gr Crisp Roasted Barley
2 x 500 gr Crisp Black Malt
2000 gr Lactose
4 Grated Tonka beans - boil
10 gr Ceylon cinnamon powder - boil
4 Ceylon cinnamon sticks - fermenter
Vanilla paste - bottling
Vanilla extract - bottling
...............................................................................................................................
Hops
50 gr Bravo 60 minutes
50 gr Bravo 1 minutes
.................................................................................................................................
Yeast US-05
..................................................................................................................................
Mash water ---> 9 gr CaCl2 + 3.5 gr Gypsum + 0.2 gr Epsom + 0.6 NaCl + 1.4 gr Brewtan B ( 200:100 / Cl:SO4 )
MASH WATER: Ca: 150 ppm / Mg: 10 ppm / Na: 15 ppm
pH Target: 5.45 + 2 gr Baking Soda
Mash for 60 minutes at 70°C.
Boil for 120 minutes + 2 gr Brewtan B at 15 minutes + Protafloc at 10 minutes

WATER / 9

Brewed: 06.02.2020
Bottled: 21.02.2020
Mash Eff.: 00???% ( 28 l pre-boil )
PG: 1.0 NOT TAKEN
OG: 1.103
FG: 1.052
ABV: 6.7%
 

Tyler B

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Russian Imperial stout is probably my favorite style and the one I brew the most. To answer your questions:

1. I've never had issues with acetaldehyde, but brewing a big beer is not quite the same as brewing more of a small beer. In my experience 3 months is about perfect for these beers. Aging longer would be fine too but aging less might be a problem.

2. Recommendations...

I brewed the Xocoveza clone recipe from here and it might be the best beer I've brewed. It was only 8.25%, but it was ready in about two months.

I've tried the Ten Fidy clone recipe a couple times and I'm getting closer to nailing that one down, but not there yet. It has a ton of specialty grains and so it's hard to get everything just right. It is probably my favorite commercial RIS. It is big, thick, sweet, and very roasty.

The Double W stout recipe here has a ton of positive reviews, but I haven't brewed it yet.

I also just brewed a 10% Brooklyn Chocolate Stout clone recipe that seems very promising, but it is only two weeks old. Hard to tell how it will finish.

3. You can scale a big one down or a small one up, your choice. You might be better off brewing a more proven recipe for your big day though.
 

Tyler B

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A couple more questions/thoughts.

Have you ever brewed a big stout like this? Your efficiency will likely take a very big hit from what you are used to (if you haven't). I see a lot of people going into these recipes expecting a 10 or 11% beer and come away disappointed because they end up with something completely different. That was certainly the case for me in the beginning.

Regarding yeast, I have used US-05 and S-04 dry yeast with success. They are easy and convenient. Depending on how big the beer is, you might end up using 3 or 4 packs for a 5 gallon batch. I have better luck pitching dry (without rehydrating) but that's just my personal preference. Whatever you do, make sure to use plenty of it.

Be sure to use yeast nutrient.

I also shake for O2 but not nearly as long as you. Maybe a couple minutes after cooling wort and then again after about 12 hours.

Definitely control fermentation temps in the beginning and ramp up towards the end of fermentation to ensure it doesn't stall out on you.

Let it sit in primary for about 3 weeks. Bottle when gravity readings confirm it's finished. Wait another month or two. Enjoy!

Edit: oh... And you can add lactose to bring the gravity up as high as you want to any beer at bottling. Just taste your gravity samples and see how sweet you want it. Most of these beers will likely finish pretty high anyway. Of course mash temp and yeast choice will impact FG as well.
 
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Qhrumphf

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I've gone 12% or more and had perfectly drinkable beer as soon as it finished attenuation (a couple weeks). MASSIVE pitch rate, lots of pure oxygen, and flawless temp control. Age brings out complexity, but if you do it right there shouldn't be off-flavors to age out.
 

hottpeper13

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I've been playing around with different mash pH's on light to dark brews and have found that a pH of 5.5-5.6 for stouts and porters makes it more homogenized in a shorter time. 3 mos. is doable with these ideas. 1- oxygen, 2- Voss Kveik( I think the slight orange at 77-80 F matches well with the chocolate of a stout). When using Kveik for this application I always pitch a starter of 1500 ml. My most recent one is in a barrel but was drinkable at 4 weeks when it was racked. Make sure you give the bottles 4 weeks or so for carbing up,big beers tale longer.
 

couchsending

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If you re-yeast with a bottle conditioning yeast bottle conditioning should take no longer. CBC-1 is great for bottle conditioning higher alcohol clean beers.
 

Tyler B

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I've been playing around with different mash pH's on light to dark brews and have found that a pH of 5.5-5.6 for stouts and porters makes it more homogenized in a shorter time. 3 mos. is doable with these ideas. 1- oxygen, 2- Voss Kveik( I think the slight orange at 77-80 F matches well with the chocolate of a stout). When using Kveik for this application I always pitch a starter of 1500 ml. My most recent one is in a barrel but was drinkable at 4 weeks when it was racked. Make sure you give the bottles 4 weeks or so for carbing up,big beers tale longer.
I just got some Voss Kveik that I'll be experimenting with soon. Had originally planned for a pale ale and a NEIPA, but I'll try it in a RIS if you say it works well. What kind of attenuation are you getting this in big stouts?
 

kevin58

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For one thing, "sweet stout" and "imperial stout" aren't in the same league in my opinion. A sweet stout averages 1.044 - 1.060 OG and 4% - 6% ABV while an imperial stout will be in the range of 1.075 - 1.115 OG and 8% - 12%. That being said you certainly could make either and crack them open in three months. It would be fun to set some aside and check again three, six or nine months later. Congrats on graduation by the way.
 

corkybstewart

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About 10 years ago I brewed a 10 gallon, all grain batch of 12% ABV imperial stout with my brewing partner. We split the 10 gallons-he bottled his, I kegged mine to age for 6 months. As soon as Mike's bottles were carbonated(probably 3 weeks) we started drinking it and it was delicious. When we drank my kegged half, it was also delicious. I think 3 months is easily enough time. One thing we did was to leave the beer in primary for 3 weeks(because we were both too busy with our jobs to do anything with it, not because we planned to leave it so long). That may have helped clean up some of the chemical by-products
 
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Spat609

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A couple more questions/thoughts.

Have you ever brewed a big stout like this? Your efficiency will likely take a very big hit from what you are used to (if you haven't). I see a lot of people going into these recipes expecting a 10 or 11% beer and come away disappointed because they end up with something completely different. That was certainly the case for me in the beginning.

Regarding yeast, I have used US-05 and S-04 dry yeast with success. They are easy and convenient. Depending on how big the beer is, you might end up using 3 or 4 packs for a 5 gallon batch. I have better luck pitching dry (without rehydrating) but that's just my personal preference. Whatever you do, make sure to use plenty of it.

Be sure to use yeast nutrient.

I also shake for O2 but not nearly as long as you. Maybe a couple minutes after cooling wort and then again after about 12 hours.

Definitely control fermentation temps in the beginning and ramp up towards the end of fermentation to ensure it doesn't stall out on you.

Let it sit in primary for about 3 weeks. Bottle when gravity readings confirm it's finished. Wait another month or two. Enjoy!

Edit: oh... And you can add lactose to bring the gravity up as high as you want to any beer at bottling. Just taste your gravity samples and see how sweet you want it. Most of these beers will likely finish pretty high anyway. Of course mash temp and yeast choice will impact FG as well.
I've done a couple 6-9% oatmeal stouts before and a few other high OG brews and I noticed that my efficiency was definitely low. I've found that using a high water to grist ratio (2qts water per lb grain), a really good sparge, and then a longer boil, I can usually keep my mash efficiency for high OG beers around 75%.
I also played around with a pitch calculator and found I'd need ~3-4x more dry yeast than I'd usually use for my 1.040 -1.060 batches, which agrees with your statement of 3-4 packs / 5 gal. I've also never rehydrated my dry yeast, but I might give it a shot.

I'm also planning on using ~1.5x more yeast nutrient than I usually use. I figured that could help me with most fermentation problems. Thanks for your other tips, they're pretty much in line with what I had in mind, what I've been reading about high OG worts, and what I usually do.
 
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Spat609

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I've been playing around with different mash pH's on light to dark brews and have found that a pH of 5.5-5.6 for stouts and porters makes it more homogenized in a shorter time. 3 mos. is doable with these ideas. 1- oxygen, 2- Voss Kveik( I think the slight orange at 77-80 F matches well with the chocolate of a stout). When using Kveik for this application I always pitch a starter of 1500 ml. My most recent one is in a barrel but was drinkable at 4 weeks when it was racked. Make sure you give the bottles 4 weeks or so for carbing up,big beers tale longer.
I love the idea of fermenting a chocolatey beer with a Voss Kveik or something with an orange profile. I'll add that to my list of recipes to try out. My LHBS is out of any kind of Kveik right now :(
 

corkybstewart

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I've done a couple 6-9% oatmeal stouts before and a few other high OG brews and I noticed that my efficiency was definitely low. I've found that using a high water to grist ratio (2qts water per lb grain), a really good sparge, and then a longer boil, I can usually keep my mash efficiency for high OG beers around 75%.
I also played around with a pitch calculator and found I'd need ~3-4x more dry yeast than I'd usually use for my 1.040 -1.060 batches, which agrees with your statement of 3-4 packs / 5 gal. I've also never rehydrated my dry yeast, but I might give it a shot.

I'm also planning on using ~1.5x more yeast nutrient than I usually use. I figured that could help me with most fermentation problems. Thanks for your other tips, they're pretty much in line with what I had in mind, what I've been reading about high OG worts, and what I usually do.
My imperial stout took 42 pounds of malt-the absolute, total limit of my mash tun. Sparge probably took 2 or 3 hours. It was a nightmare brewing session and would never do it again. I injected pure O2 as I pumped it into the fermenter, and I pitched directly onto the yeast cake of an oatmeal stout I brewed a couple of weeks before. I ferment in a 12.5 gallon stainless fermenter and had racked the oatmeal stout during the boil of the Imperial stout so I had a ton of yeast in there. The result was great, but not so great I'd fight that battle again..
 

Tyler B

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I've done a couple 6-9% oatmeal stouts before and a few other high OG brews and I noticed that my efficiency was definitely low. I've found that using a high water to grist ratio (2qts water per lb grain), a really good sparge, and then a longer boil, I can usually keep my mash efficiency for high OG beers around 75%.
I also played around with a pitch calculator and found I'd need ~3-4x more dry yeast than I'd usually use for my 1.040 -1.060 batches, which agrees with your statement of 3-4 packs / 5 gal. I've also never rehydrated my dry yeast, but I might give it a shot.

I'm also planning on using ~1.5x more yeast nutrient than I usually use. I figured that could help me with most fermentation problems. Thanks for your other tips, they're pretty much in line with what I had in mind, what I've been reading about high OG worts, and what I usually do.
If you've got the space in your mash tun to keep the water to grist ratio high, then you might not see as big of a hit as I do. My mash usually goes more like Corky's, but I enjoy it. It sounds like you have a pretty good idea about your efficiency too, so you should be fine.

One more tip, some people wait to add the dark grains until the second half of the mash. Others split the dark grains in half and add half at the beginning of the mash and the other half during the second half of the mash. Apparently this cuts back on the aggressive roasty flavors of the dark grains that people sometimes describe as acrid or unpleasant. Something to consider.

Please share updates and let us know how it goes.
 

hottpeper13

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Tyler, The maple sap beer(Acer Ale) had a 1.076 OG with 76% ADF, and the RIS at 1.100 was 74%. The more standard ones at 1.050- 1.060 were at 80%. So overall a versatile variety. With the Acer Ale I started with 1.020 brewing liquor,so I mashed at 154*. Mostly I mash my big beers at 148* for 90- 120 min.
 

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