High Gravity RIS (Help Needed!)

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rune

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Hi all, I’m pretty new here but I hope you guys will give me a hand with a RIS recipe I’m working on. This will be my 4th AG batch so I am still very much a n00b, so please try to bear with me. The goal here is to get around 15% ABV with a high FG (1.033 < FG < 1.035) similar to 3F’s Dark Lord (DL). I’m not trying to make a perfect clone recipe, but I do like the mouth feel and high ABV of DL, so hopefully I’ll be able to make a tasty homebrew with some similar characteristics.

The batch size will be small (~2.5 Gal) for two reasons: first and foremost I’m a broke grad student, and second I expect that I will brew this a few times before it comes out the way I’d like it. As far as equipment, I’m working with a 10 Gal cylindrical cooler mash tun and a 7.5 gal boiling pot so it'd be a stretch to get a 5 gal batch with a grain bill this big anyhow. Using this setup and 2 round batch sparge I typically hit 78% eff on medium gravity (~8% ABV) beers. I’m not certain what type of eff I’ll hit with a big beer like this, so if anyone knows how many points you lose on a beer this big thatd help out quite a bit.

So for the grain bill I was thinking 50% pale base malt (probably Marris Otter), 45% specialty grains to help keep the FG high, and 5% black strap molasses but I have little experience with beers this big so suggestions on this would be very helpful. I also have a friend who gets free Intelligentsia coffee beans so I plan to add ½ lb coarsely ground directly to the mash. I have also read that fermentability can be an issue for big beers, should I plan the grain bill for the % attenuation listed for the selected yeast or should I expect it to be lower? I looked up a few DL clone recipes in the forums to get any idea of the types of grains used in a big RIS and this is what I came up with:

50% Marris Otter
15% Flaked Barley
6% Simpson’s Coffee Malt
5% Molasses
4 % Black Malt
4% Crystal 60L
4% Chocolate Malt
4% Flaked Oats
4% Roasted Barley
4% Victory

So far I’ve pulled good eff & attenuation with a long rest decoction mash, so I would probably use the following mash profile:

Mash in 1.5 qt/lb @ 125 F for 75 mins
Decoction -> 147 F for 45 mins
Decoction -> 155 F for 60 mins
Mash out Decoction -> 168 F

I know the steps are really long, but I think it’s more fun this way. After that I do a 2 round batch sparge and then boil for 120 min. I think I’ll use 1oz Warrior and 1oz Chinook @ 60 min. I might be wrong about this, but I think if I don’t do a really long boil on this one I won’t have enough sparge water to keep a half decent eff and I want the beer black as night anyhow.

So the last thing I’m curious about is the yeast. I’ll check Mr. Malty and make a starter on my stirplate either way, but I’m not sure what yeast I should use. I usually use WLP007, but its alcohol tolerance is 12% at best according to WL, so I was thinking I might have to use WLP099. On the other hand, I brewed a barley wine with WLP007 and it got up to 13.5%, so I don't really know how good that alcohol tolerance rating is. Any yeasts suggestions for 15% ABV RIS?

Sorry for the long post, I can be a bit long winded. Hope you guys can help me out!
 

cactusgarrett

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First, i would pass on the coffee. I don't like the harshness of actual coffee, even when cold steeped. Without it, you should be right where you want to be with the roastiness, anyway, with your roasted barley.

Regarding the yeast - i would make a big starter, or step it up at least twice. Also, i'd probably opt to use a less attenuative strain, like WLP008, WLP013 or WLP028. I know they're not very high-alcohol tolerant, but that should lend itself more to a higher FG. To me, WLP007 is just too attenuative for what you're looking for. 099 could be a good, choice, though. Make sure the strain you choose has the characteristics you're looking for, though - dry vs. malty, estery vs. clean, etc.
 

motobrewer

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i'd skip the decoction mash unless you really, really want to. also, i'd say 90 minute boil minimum.

you can keep the FG high by a single infusion 157. I brewed r2eng's double-w imperial stout, og 1.107 and it finished around 1.031.
 

yodalegomaster

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Big dark beers like this need some residual sugar to taste good. Don't use 099 it will ferment all out. I would think you want to shoot for FG of 1.010 to 1.015, nothing worse than a very dry, very roasty beer.
 

McMalty

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if your goal is to get 15%, i'd say you need more pale malt. That's a pretty high abv for having only 50% pale malt, unless you're boiling it down really really good, in which case, there are other factors that should be considered
 

tdogg

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Big dark beers like this need some residual sugar to taste good. Don't use 099 it will ferment all out. I would think you want to shoot for FG of 1.010 to 1.015, nothing worse than a very dry, very roasty beer.
i dont know too many RIS's that finish that low. for 15% ABV i'd expect more like 1.025+
 

coypoo

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For my really large beers I usually end up at about 63% efficiency (down from 80 on normal beers), so take that into consideration. But if you are going to boil for 2 hours then you efficiency should be better than that.

When you are fermenting make sure that the temp stays low. With that many fermentables it will get really hot. So watch for that
 

dcp27

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waaay too much specialty malts, id half them. your fg is gunna be high regardless based on OG, you wont need all that specialty malt to keep it up.

I'd go with S-05 or belgian for the yeast
 
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rune

rune

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cactusgarrett: I've read in a few places that 3F uses Intelligentsia in DL, and I'm a huge fan of coffee so I will probably keep it. Oddly enough, the first AG recipe I could call my own was a sweet coffee stout and thanks to Beersmith it came out great!
I haven't tried those yeast strains yet, however they are all rated for 10% alcohol tolerance. I don't know how reliable WL's statistics are, so do you think I could hit 15% on these strains if I made a big starter? I've only used WL 001, 004, 007, and Nottingham so far so I really don't have a strong grasp on the characteristics of different yeast strains but I am going for low ester, malty, and clean.

motobrewer: I've heard that you can keep the fermentability low by mashing in high, but I do like to do decoction mashing. To get the mouthfeel of DL I'd be willing to forgo the decoctions, but do you think I could keep the FG high by raising the OG to a level where, assuming that the yeast (def not 099) will only eat 75-80%, I'm still left with something in the 1.032 < FG < 1.035 range after the yeast call it quits?

yodalegomaster: Good point, 099 is listed as > 80% attenuation. I definitely do not want to end up with a bitter dry beer.

McMalty: I thought that might be a bit on the high side, but I do want good head retention and a really high FG. Do you have a recommendation for the % base malt?
 
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rune

rune

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coypoo: Wow, I knew you lost some eff points on the big beers, but I had no idea that you could loose that much. With the 2hr boil do you think I could hit 70% (down from 78%)?

dcp27: Do you think 60-65% base malt would be ok? I don't want to overdo it, but I get the feeling that with my mash profile 75% base malt would be way too fermentable.
 

dcp27

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if you're looking for ~80% attenuation out of your yeast in a 1.140+ beer, I dont think you have a choice but to go with at least 75% base malt. dark malt is almost entirely unfermentable.

i suggest reading this if you havent before: http://beerdujour.com/Howtobrewabigbeer.htm
 

dirty_martini

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given that the beer is going to be huge, you actually dont want to mash high. Even with a highly fermentable wort, the yeast can only do so much. I would aim for about 148-150 max. If you get 80% attenuation on a 1.140 beer, that puts you right around 15% and you are still close to 1.030.

I would cut down on all of the ingredients. In something so big, its gonna get lost anyway. I would aim closer to this.

70-75% base malt
5ish% crystal malts
8-10% roasted malts (thats all chocolate, roasted barley, carafa, etc combined)
3-5% "body enhancers" (either flaked barley, oats, wheat...just pick one)
10ish% sugar (dont use blackstrap...just use regular unsulphered molasses. fermented, it tastes better. I would also maybe use half and half molasses and table sugar or corn sugar. Even the belgians use both and it will help fermentation)

Since you are using coffee, you could probably go at the lower end of the roasted malts since it will add more roast along with the grains. I would collect enough wort that will allow you to boil for 2-3 hours. That will add a little more caramelization which will aid in the body and deeper flavor. Since this is a beer that is going to need to age, I wouldnt bother with anything but a bittering addition. The flavor and aromatics will be long gone by the time you can drink it. I would wait til after fermentation has slowed down to add the sugar so that it feeds the yeast and doesnt overstress them at the beginning since they are already going to be dealing with a high gravity wort. Also, if you ever plan on drinking it and dont want it tasting like rocket fuel, make sure you control the fermentation temperature and keep it in the mid 60 to upper 60s at the highest. A higher fermentation will kick off some nasty fusels you will never get rid of. Make a big starter or if you are using US-05, use a couple of packets, even for a 2.5gal. Youre gonna need a lot of healthy yeast for this monster.

I just threw together a quick recipe as an example for you to give you an idea of what it would look like. I set the efficiency low just because its so huge. I also rounded all of the percentages.

65% eff.
2.5gal batch

10lb Maris Otter 71%
.5lb Flaked Barley 4%
.75lb crystal 60 5%
.75lb chocolate 5%
.25lb roasted barley 2%
.25lb carafa III 2%
.75lb molasses 5.5%
.75lb table sugar 5.5%
.75oz magnum 90mins 80 IBUs

1.140 SG
1.028 FG
 

pfooti

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For the record, our brewing setups are pretty identical (10 gal cooler, 7.5 gal boil tun) and I brew a 1.110 wee heavy at 5 gallons no problem. I do admit that I use fermcap-S so I can get my boil tun filled to the 7.2 gallon mark for a long boil.

The long boil gives more chance to start with a more dilute wort, which means you sparged more sugars out, at least that's been my experience. In my setup, I do a 50-25-25 batch sparge (shoot for 50% of my preboil volume in the initial runnings, then 25% in each of the two batch sparges), and tend to get around 75% efficiency for my 60-minute boil beers, but closer to 80% when I'm doing a 90-120 minute beer.

I also want to agree with dirty_martini here- the current recipe looks more like a "what I found at the brewstore" listing. Black malt, roasted barley tend to do similar things, as do the oatmeal and flaked barley, for example.

The only point of difference is that I really like Blackstrap Molasses in this application- the mineraly flavor can be very interesting, especially in a RIS or strong scotch ale. Maybe more the strong scotch ale and less the RIS.

If you're aiming to create a recipe that's truly yours, starting with a simpler grain bill makes sense. Then you can do stuff like replace the carafa III with roast barley (keeps roughly similar color but really emphasizes the roast) or fiddle with the body-enhancers (swap the flaked barley for wheat), or change how you deal with the beer in the secondary (rack onto coffee, vanilla, oak cubes, etc). This kind of variation will be hard to begin with (since RIS needs age), but will be a lot easier if you're starting from a more straightforward recipe.
 
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rune

rune

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dcp27: I have read that, however his section about the grain bill seemed focused on keeping a low FG where as I think my target FG is relatively high (but then again, I don't know whats considered a high FG for a beer like this). You are correct though, I've looked at a few other high gravity recipes today and the grain bill does have ~75% base malt, some changes are definitely in order.

dirty_martini & pfooti: Thanks, you guys seem to be on the same page, I will start with something more basic and modify the bill after I've tasted a well aged batch. And no worries about fermentation temps, my basement stays pretty cool so I should be able to manage it.

I would like to hear more about the difference in the results from the two kinds of molasses. Also, when adding molasses to the fermenter, I assume it needs to be pasteurized first so a 15-20 min boil is in order. What I don't know is how much water is needed per lb molasses for the boil to keep it from scorching in the pot. Anybody have a rough estimate on that?

Here's what I have right now for the grain bill:

10 lb Maris Otter 73.8%
.5 lb Crystal 60L 3.69%
.75 lb Flaked Barley 5.54%
.5 lb Chocolate 3.69%
.5 lb Coffee Malt 3.69%
.5 lb Roasted Barley 3.69%
8 oz Coffee (coarse ground)
.8 lb Molasses 5.90% (Added when fermentation slows)

1.5 oz Chinook 120 min

If I can hit 75%:
OG = 1.151
1.030< FG < 1.038 for 75-80% attenuation

If my eff is down and I hit a lower OG (and in all likelihood that's what will happen) I can always double up on the molasses and still keep the sugars around 10% of the total bill, or boil down to a smaller volume to hit my numbers.

I'm still stuck on yeast selection. Right now it looks like WLP001 is a good choice as it's rated up to 15% and attenuates well, but I have never made a stout with it so I don't know what to expect from the results. I'd hate for the little guys to die off early and leave me with a cloyingly sweet beer, so I am hesitant to use a yeast that isn't rated up to 15%. If anybody has had success with yeasts other than 001/099 in a beer this big I'd love to hear about it.
 

McMalty

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if you're looking for ~80% attenuation out of your yeast in a 1.140+ beer, I dont think you have a choice but to go with at least 75% base malt. dark malt is almost entirely unfermentable.

i suggest reading this if you havent before: http://beerdujour.com/Howtobrewabigbeer.htm
Pretty much spot on. OP, you asked me what proportion of pale malt you should use. Like dcp says, you're probably going to need at least 75% pale malt. 25% specialty malt is plenty. I understand that you want good head retention, the flaked barley should give you that. If 50% of your grain bill is hardly fermentable, you're not going to reach 15% abv with your desired OG. The reason beers can get up to 15% abv in the first place is b/c they had A LOT of fermentables in them, that's where your pale malt comes in. You're not going to get that kind of sugar out of crystal and darker roasted malts. Those malts are moreso for flavor and color than fermentables, and they're good at giving that to you, so you don't need them to take up half of your grain bill.

I recently brewed a Imperial Stout. I used 75% pale, 10% flaked barley, 5% dark malt, and 5% crystal and a lb of lactose. The OG was 1114. I used WLP001. The FG was 1034. It's a really thick brew, tons of flavor. So that should give you an idea of the kind of results you get using those ingredients.
 
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rune

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Thanks McMalty, I am in total agreement with you and dcp27, 75% is going to be the minimum pale malt for the this recipe.

I recently brewed a Imperial Stout. I used 75% pale, 10% flaked barley, 5% dark malt, and 5% crystal and a lb of lactose. The OG was 1114. I used WLP001. The FG was 1034. It's a really thick brew, tons of flavor. So that should give you an idea of the kind of results you get using those ingredients.
I have to say that sounds delicious. I made a sweet coffee stout @ 1.094 OG and 1.033 FG with 1 lb of lactose & WLP004 and I loved it! But I digress... I'm glad to hear that WLP001 can make a good Imperial Stout. If I go by WL's listed alcohol tolerances, the only other WL yeast I can get my hands on (aside from 099) that is rated up to 15% are Belgian strains, and from what I've read they add some fruitiness and other characteristics which are not desired in an RIS.

That said, I would like to hit an OG of 151 and ferment 75% to 80% of the sugars out, so I think I would need a wort slightly more fermentable than that one. Would it be a good idea to rely on a larger sugar addition after fermentation slows down or a higher percentage of base malt?

Thanks again!
 

dcp27

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I'm glad to hear that WLP001 can make a good Imperial Stout. If I go by WL's listed alcohol tolerances, the only other WL yeast I can get my hands on (aside from 099) that is rated up to 15% are Belgian strains, and from what I've read they add some fruitiness and other characteristics which are not desired in an RIS.
I actually like belgian strains in RIS (Avery's mephistopheles uses one). However, since you're focusing on the roasty-side of things in this, a cleaner yeast like WLP001/Fermentis S-05 as planned would be better.

if you treat the yeast right (pitch tons, lots of nutrients, lots of aeration), you might be close as is to reaching your goal. Upping the base or using sugar will certainly help get the high attenuation. If you go with sugar, I'd go with demerara/turbinado/sugar in the raw
 

boostsr20

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For my really large beers I usually end up at about 63% efficiency (down from 80 on normal beers), so take that into consideration. But if you are going to boil for 2 hours then you efficiency should be better than that.

When you are fermenting make sure that the temp stays low. With that many fermentables it will get really hot. So watch for that


Yup, I second that. Always keep some light dme on hand for that reason exactly. Also, you really should listen to the brew strong series on high gravity brewing.
 
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rune

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if you treat the yeast right (pitch tons, lots of nutrients, lots of aeration), you might be close as is to reaching your goal. Upping the base or using sugar will certainly help get the high attenuation. If you go with sugar, I'd go with demerara/turbinado/sugar in the raw
I think I'll hold off on the extra sugar at first and see how I do on my eff, if I end up at 65% I'll adjust for it in my mid-fermentation sugar additions. For aeration I just agitate the wort with my wort chiller and pour back and forth between buckets a few times, I hope that will be enough for this one. Also I usually pitch my whole starter, but this batch is pretty small to dump in the 1.13 L starter Mr. Malty calls for. Do you think I get away with decanting and pitching the yeast from the starter and doubling up on the nutrient?

Also, you really should listen to the brew strong series on high gravity brewing.
I'm downloading these as I type, thanks for the tip!
 
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rune

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Thanks again to everyone who helped me out with this! I've got my yeast starter ready so I should be brewin' this up in the morning. Here's the final version of the recipe:

Cthulu (0.9.1)
Imperial Stout

Type: All Grain
Date: 3/27/2011
Batch Size: 2.50 gal
Brewer: rune
Boil Size: 3.98 gal
Boil Time: 120 min Equipment: Brew Pot (7.5 gal) and Igloo Cooler (10 Gal)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00

Ingredients

Amount Item Type % or IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 74.07 %
12.0 oz Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 5.56 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 3.70 %
8.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 3.70 %
8.0 oz Coffee Malt (Simpson's) (150.0 SRM) Grain 3.70 %
8.0 oz Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 3.70 %
1.50 oz Chinook [13.00 %] (120 min) Hops 82.8 IBU
8.00 oz Intelligentsia Coffee (Mash 5.0 min) Misc
12.0 oz Molasses (80.0 SRM) Sugar 5.56 %
1 Pkgs California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [Starter 1130 ml] Yeast-Ale

Est Original Gravity: 1.151 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.032 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 15.75 %
Bitterness: 82.8 IBU Calories: -2 cal/pint
Est Color: 64.1 SRM Color: Color

Mash Profile

Total Grain Weight: 12.75 lb
Sparge Water: 0.98 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.2 PH

My Mash Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Protein Rest Add 4.78 gal of water at 134.0 F 125.0 F
45 min Saccrafication Decoct 1.52 gal of mash and boil it 147.0 F
60 min Saccrafication Decoct 0.74 gal of mash and boil it 155.0 F
10 min Mash Out Decoct 1.38 gal of mash and boil it 168.0 F

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Corn Sugar Volumes of CO2: 2.4
Pressure/Weight: 2.0 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 64.9 F Age for: 84.0 days
Storage Temperature: 52.0 F

Something tells me a bit of DME is gonna make its way into the boil when I can't hit my eff but we shall see. Wish me luck! (I'm gonna need it :p)
 
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rune

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Brew day didn't go too poorly for a first attempt. I was way off on my eff (OG = 1.135), but I did get a second smaller beer out of it. I sparged with an extra 4 gal water and boiled it for a few hours to get 5L @ 1.075 after I added my leftover molasses and hops. Good thing I keep some extra yeast around.

I think this beer will taste good even with the lower than planned OG but next time around I think Ill do it differently. Ill probably brew this again in a month or two with one big change: a longer boil. It seeems I can't hit a decent eff on a beer this big be it my skill level or my set up. I figure if I add an extra hour or two to the boil I should be able to mash closer to 2 qt/lb and sparge with more than a gallon. That should be enough to get me to a decent eff, at least I hope it will. Does anybody have any thoughts on this?

Thanks in advance,
rune
 
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