Sierra Nevada Narwhal Recipe (directly from SN)

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cactusgarrett

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I’ve been coming up empty in attempts to find a recipe for Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal, and after contacting them directly, got some pretty good guidance from their brewing team. There are a few gaps, making it not as complete recipe as I’d like, so I thought I’d put this out there for us to noodle on to nail down something more concrete. From SN:

OG: 24.0 Plato (1.096)
FG: 6.0 Plato (1.024)
ABV: 10.2%
IBU: 55

Grainbill
Pale 2-row 75%
Caramel 60L 8%
Honey Malt 4%
Chocolate Malt 4%
Roast Barley 4%
Carafa III 4%
Smoked Barley 1%

Mash at 152F

Boil
0 min: Mandarina Bavaria
120 min: Sterling
150 min: Sterling & Sucrose (to get to 24.0 Plato)
210 min: Whirlpool

California Ale yeast
62°F pump-in; 68°F ferment

Here, what I think, are the key pieces missing to make this a complete recipe:
  • Mash length – I don’t think anything longer than 60min would be necessary at 152°F.
  • Smoked malt – I was surprised to see this, as it’s not stated on the beer’s page. I would guess something smooth & subtle is needed here (ie avoid malts smoked with peat).
  • Sucrose - The amount needed to theoretically hit 24.0 P was about 9% (after plugging this all into BeerSmith) - about 6 oz more than the C60 amount.
  • Hops – I was a bit surprised to see a completely different hop bill from what the site says (Cascade, Ekuanot, Magnum). I also didn’t get any direction on how much bitterness (IBU) to shoot for at each addition, and with a 3.5 hr boil, there’s a LOT of room to play. Here’s my first-pass attempt:
210 min Mandarina Bavaria @ 25 IBU
90 min Sterling @ 15 IBU
60 min Sterling @ 15 IBU
60 min Sucrose
0 min knockout

What else?
 
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cmac62

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I think at 1% smoked malt you can leave it out and it wouldn't make a discernable difference. Especially with the chocolate and RB. Why not use good bittering hops only, it's not like your gonna taste the difference at 210, 90 or 60. Also I would think a beer this big will need more bittering, of course I've never boiled hops for 210 mins so I don't know what they do after 60. :mug:
 

3 Dawg Night

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Interesting. I plugged it into Brewer's Friend for another data point. I get the following recipe:

OG 1.096
FG 1.018
ABV 11.2%
IBU 64
SRM 50
5.5 gal into the fermenter
74% BH efficiency (although, I'd expect an efficiency drop with a huge beer like this)

12 lb 2-Row
1.5 lb C60
0.75 lb Honey Malt
0.75 lb Chocolate (350L)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300L)
0.75 lb Carafa III
3 oz Beech-Smoked Barley
2 lb Sucrose (in the boil kettle)

1 oz Mandarina Bavaria 8.5AA @ 210 min
0.5 oz Sterling 8.7AA @ 90 min
0.5 oz Sterling 8.7AA @ 60 min

WLP001 in a 3.5L starter

I agree that a 60 minute mash ought to do it. Depending on the size of your MLT, you may need a thicker mash.

For the smoked malt, I think the old standby of beech-smoked is the way to go. 1% of a 5-gallon batch is only 3 oz, so I tend to agree with @cmac62 that you probably won't be able to even notice it. It lets you tell people it's a "smoked imperial stout," though.

I was able to get the OG to 1.096 using malt only, but I added the "C60+6oz" amount of sucrose you recommend above. I guess that will dry it out some?

Again I'm in agreement with @cmac62 that it probably doesn't matter what hops you use. Your last addition is at 60 min, so you probably won't get much (if any) flavor or aroma.

Interesting recipe/exercise! I hope you'll brew it and let us know how it turns out. If it's tasty, jump in on the next round of Fellowship of the Homebrew!
 

InspectorJon

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I think the 3.5 hour boil is to increase mash efficiency but it also gives some Maillard reaction. More water for a thinner mash or more sparge water = more extraction. The breweries have their mash efficiencies down pretty good so can better predict OG and how much sugar to add. I would wait to end of boil and measure gravity and then calculate sugar to add to get the desired OG.

They mention whirlpool. Does that imply a whirlpool hops addition? Otherwise why say whirlpool? The boil times are written oddly. I wonder if the Sterling is for bittering and the Mandarina Bavaria is a whirlpool hop. The Mandarina Bavaria seems like an odd bittering hop unless they just had a lot left and wanted to use it up.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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They mention whirlpool. Does that imply a whirlpool hops addition? ...It seems like an odd bittering hop unless they just had a lot left and wanted to use it up.
For lack of more info, I took that to mean "knockout". Everything surrounding the hops considered (like how they're completely different from what the website says), I would venture a guess that similar hops will be perceived as the same since they're boiled 60-210 minutes.

I know many big stout makers rely on long boils for flavor development, but I've never been one myself. The idea just doesn't sound appealing to me. The first thing I thought of when I saw the recipe was what the impact of a decreased boil time would be.
 

cmac62

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The first thing I thought of when I saw the recipe was what the impact of a decreased boil time would be.
Less boil off. Concerning the Maillard reactions, I thought these don't even start until 240? It is like kettle caramelization, it doesn't happen in a boiling watery solution.
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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Less boil off. Concerning the Maillard reactions, I thought these don't even start until 240? It is like kettle caramelization, it doesn't happen in a boiling watery solution.
I mean the impact to flavor, qualitatively. Specifically, what will I lose if I decide to do a 60-90min boil and adjust the hops to match IBU?

I used to think that about mailliard reaction, too, but then I was made aware that it happens at lower temp, just slower. It's like water evaporating: water boils at 212F, but that doesn't mean it needs to be at 212F to evaporate.
 

cmac62

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I used to think that about mailliard reaction, too, but then I was made aware that it happens at lower temp, just slower. It's like water evaporating: water boils at 212F, but that doesn't mean it needs to be at 212F to evaporate.
Thanks Garrett, I have not heard that. It makes sense that a 3 hour boil would add a lot more for those flavors that a 1 hour boil.
 
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If you are game, you could smoke your own malt. I have a Little Chief that my grandfather used for smoked fish. After a generous cleaning (No fishy beer!), I only use it now for smoking the malts for beers like my smoked porter.

I use Applewood Chips soaked in Irish Whiskey. I soak the dark grains overnight (about 3# of grain for a 5G batch), then put them on trays (aluminum foil with pinholes in it, 'cause I'm cheap )and give them 4-6 hours of cold smoke. Dry them in a 170F oven, spread thinly on sheet trays for another 8 hours or overnight, stirring every hour or so. Then keep them in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer for at least two weeks to smooth out the smoke flavor. It's a nice addition to a roasty beer, not dominant after the first month of bottle/keg aging. They get milled with the base/pale malts. You could even reserve the liquid left over from the soak as it's inky and roasty, but the malts still give up a lot of color and flavor in the mash without it.
 

cmac62

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I've heard you can smoke grain in a treager or other smoker. I haven't tried it yet, but my understanding is use the lowest temp possible and smoke the malt on a cookie sheet in thin layer for 30 to an hour, then let cool and keep in a paper bag for a week or so to mellow.
 

cmac62

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Something tells me they are pulling your leg....
I don't see why not. My treager low/smoke setting is at 180* f, that shouldn't cause too much additional color and my thought is smoke is smoke. Does it really make a difference if it is hot or cold? Of course it may have some effect on the enzymes, so maybe hot smoke a lb or 2 and add that to a grist with enough 2 row or other base malt to convert the smoked as well. :confused:

Edit: Okay, that means I have to crank up the Treager this weekend and smoke a couple lbs of MO or Pils to see how it comes out. :mug:
 

Nagorg

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I don't see why not. My treager low/smoke setting is at 180* f, that shouldn't cause too much additional color and my thought is smoke is smoke. Does it really make a difference if it is hot or cold? Of course it may have some effect on the enzymes, so maybe hot smoke a lb or 2 and add that to a grist with enough 2 row or other base malt to convert the smoked as well. :confused:

Edit: Okay, that means I have to crank up the Treager this weekend and smoke a couple lbs of MO or Pils to see how it comes out. :mug:

I think someone is pulling your leg about the Narwhal recipe... Smoking your own grain is legit!
 
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cactusgarrett

cactusgarrett

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For only 1% of the grainbill, I don't think I'll bother smoking my own. ;)
Also, as some others have said, with that little, one could probably leave it out of this recipe and the drinker would be none the wiser. My palate isn't the best, but I don't perceive any smoke from Narwhal.
 
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