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Widow Maker Black Ale

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muddpuppy

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I'm trying to clone this beer (Widow Maker Black Ale) one of my favorites, is made by Keweenaw Brewing Co., which is up in Houghton, Mi. The UP! I contacted the micro-brew and he gave me this---95% pale, 2% black, 3% chocolate ~1.75lbs/gal malt ~.25oz/gal hops. Since I'm fairly new to homebrewing, and only doing extract, I was wondering if someone could put this into a recipe I could follow and order up! Here is the brewers description of the beer! Widow Maker Black Ale

Don't let its looks deceive you. Though it may resemble a porter or a stout, this is a light bodied ale with a pleasant hint of molasses. Don't be afraid of the dark.
 

eweb44

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I have never tried, nor heard of this beer before. So we're going to need some more info before we can give this clone the ol' college try. What variety of hops are used, whats the starting and final gravities (or at least ABV%), and what style of yeast is used?

In order to properly utilize the chocolate and black malts, you are going to have to do a partial mash for this beer. When I started brewing, I did my second batch as a partial and while I was COMPLETELY confused and nervous, the quality paid off immediately. Really once you get your equipment sorted out going partial or even AG is very easy.

See if you can get some more info then I'll try to whip up a recipe. As for the yeast, if the beer is bottle conditioned, you can culture yeast from a couple of bottles, and the right yeast goes a long way in making a good clone.
 

Donthoseme

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Well first off it will be tougher with extract to fully clone this beer. That being said i would do this.

4# light LME
2# light DME
10oz chocolate
8oz black pattent

I'm not sure about the yeast. I usually like US-5
 

Donthoseme

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whoops yea you need to partial mash or those grains won't give you anything. It's been a while since extract.
 

david_42

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Black patent doesn't need to be mashed and you'll get all of the color and flavor from the chocolate just by steeping it.
 
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muddpuppy

muddpuppy

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Well the brewer did not give many details, like the type of hops or yeast, or gravitys. I'm not set up to mash yet, was wondering if it could be matched somewhat with extract! And where would the hint of molasses flovor come from? The chocolate!
 

Tiber_Brew

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I worked at the KBC while in college and have brewed both theirs and my own recipes on their system. I can't just give you the exact recipe, but I'm willing to help. Are you still interested in brewing this one?

TB
 

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Not sure if mudpuppy is interested, but I had two of these from a tap last night and it was just what I like. It lets the malt shine without being sweet or having the hops overpower the malt.

It reminded me of what I got when I made this:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f67/session-mild-e-51884/

But, with a little smoke and molasses flavor and considerably darker.

5 # Light DME
8 oz Crystal 60L
6 oz Chocolate
6 oz Molasses (never used it before so I just guessed on the amount)
4 oz Briess Special Roast
4 oz Black Patent
4 oz Smoked Malt

1.5 oz Cascade 60 Min or some other low AA hop.

I don't normally create recipes so I could be way off, but this is near to the correct ABV and what I thought the SRM was on the Widowmaker.
 

Tiber_Brew

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Not sure if mudpuppy is interested, but I had two of these from a tap last night and it was just what I like. It lets the malt shine without being sweet or having the hops overpower the malt.

It reminded me of what I got when I made this:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f67/session-mild-e-51884/

But, with a little smoke and molasses flavor and considerably darker.

5 # Light DME
8 oz Crystal 60L
6 oz Chocolate
6 oz Molasses (never used it before so I just guessed on the amount)
4 oz Briess Special Roast
4 oz Black Patent
4 oz Smoked Malt

1.5 oz Cascade 60 Min or some other low AA hop.

I don't normally create recipes so I could be way off, but this is near to the correct ABV and what I thought the SRM was on the Widowmaker.
I can tell you right now that this won't be like the Widowmaker, but it does look like a good beer. It would be more like a Porter than anything else I'd say.

Lose the molasses and caramel malt, along with the smoked malt, and you'd be closer to the Widowmaker. Also, either use half the choc or lose it altogether. I also don't think you'll need both special roast and black patent together. But, like I said, what you've got looks like a good recipe, just not emulating the Widowmaker.

TiberhopethishelpsBrew
 

vortex

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Ok I need to learn how to read. I revisited the first post and did the math.

1.75 x 5 Gal = 8.75# grain bill
8.75# x .95 = 8.3125# Pale 2 Row x .6 (.75 for pale LME) = 4.9875# Light DME I will call it 5#
8.75# x .03 = 4.2 oz Chocolate
8.75# x .02 = 2.8 oz Black

2 oz of Willamette (4.7 AA) @ 60 min puts Hopville's recipe calculator right in the middle of the bitterness scale, but I would probably use 1.5 oz of it for 60. But, hops aren't my favorite part of beer so I aim to undershoot.

I think a pack of Nottingham would work well and drops nice and bright.

Hopville also puts the ABV at 4.7 which is below the 5.2 claimed for Widowmaker at RateBeer

Let me know if this sounds about right.
 

Tiber_Brew

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Ok I need to learn how to read. I revisited the first post and did the math.

1.75 x 5 Gal = 8.75# grain bill
8.75# x .95 = 8.3125# Pale 2 Row x .6 (.75 for pale LME) = 4.9875# Light DME I will call it 5#
8.75# x .03 = 4.2 oz Chocolate
8.75# x .02 = 2.8 oz Black

2 oz of Willamette (4.7 AA) @ 60 min puts Hopville's recipe calculator right in the middle of the bitterness scale, but I would probably use 1.5 oz of it for 60. But, hops aren't my favorite part of beer so I aim to undershoot.

I think a pack of Nottingham would work well and drops nice and bright.

Hopville also puts the ABV at 4.7 which is below the 5.2 claimed for Widowmaker at RateBeer

Let me know if this sounds about right.
KBC uses WLP001 Ca. ale yeast, so you could use US-05 if you're set on using dry yeast. Otherwise a moderate starter made from WLP001 would be appropriate.

TB
 

BadDeacon

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Brewing this recipe this weekend. I brought back a 6-pack from my latest trip to Houghton. I plan on comparing side by side for Easter.

Quick question: How long should I steep the grains (Chocolate & Black)? and at what temp????

Thanks!
 

BadDeacon

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Ok just bottled mine after 2 weeks in primary. It looks like I ended up with 5.25% abv. I'll try it on Easter weekend.
 

BadDeacon

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Thanks! My sample at bottling was a bit grainy (bottom of the bucket). And in my corona bottles I don't think it's dark enough. Gonna rename this to "Sabbath Breaker" because I brewed it on a Sunday.

image-1983741377.jpg
 

Tiber_Brew

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Does look a tad light, but you'll have to let us know how the tasting goes. You can always add a tad more black malt the next time around, but if you've got a great tasting beer, you're 90% there, bud! :mug:
 

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Thanks Tiber! Talked to some folks in houghton today they said y'all had 10" since 7am. Stay warm!
 

Tiber_Brew

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Thanks Tiber! Talked to some folks in houghton today they said y'all had 10" since 7am. Stay warm!
It's been snowing sideways all day. I had a solid 2 ft of snow in the middle of my driveway with 3 ft drifts when I got home from work. It certainly doesn't look like March outside. Then again, it is the U.P.

A good week to stay indoors and sip some homebrew! :)
 

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Had to try it before headed out of town. Mighty tasty. Already moderately carved and the clearest beer I have brewed yet.
 

BadDeacon

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Ok. Here's the thing. I really like what I made but I seethe following differences:

1) mine seems a bit 'bright' on the carbonation side.
2) the original has a bit more mouth feel as well.
3) mine is a bit more like a dark brown than the black of the original.

So, I used us-05. Would the yeast make that much of a difference over wlp 01? And how can I adjust the color???

Thanks!

BadDeacon

image-3609175205.jpg
 

Tiber_Brew

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So, I used us-05. Would the yeast make that much of a difference over wlp 01?
No. You should be darn near spot on with that yeast if you rehydrated and pitched at a proper rate.

And how can I adjust the color???
You could add more black patent. I would be careful to not overdo it, but from the picture, you could add some more. How did the taste compare as far as roasted character?
 

Yooper

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You can use more black malt, for darker color. Since I get no roasted flavor at all from widow maker, I'd use sinimar or dehusked carafaa III (especial).

My understanding is that Pickaxe Blonde and Widow maker are the same beer, but with some black colored grains in the mash for the Widowmaker.

(I'm not a KBC fan, but I have tasted those beers).
 

BadDeacon

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No. You should be darn near spot on with that yeast if you rehydrated and pitched at a proper rate.



You could add more black patent. I would be careful to not overdo it, but from the picture, you could add some more. How did the taste compare as far as roasted character?
The reason I ask about the yeast is I have remade the first batch I ever made and used a different yeast (WLP0001). I originally used US-05. I noticed that the WLP0001 yielded a much different mouthfeel than the US-05. the WLP feels closer to the widowmaker in the can.

Also, could steeping longer give me the darker color as well? I think I only steeped for 25 min. Maybe if I do a longer steep (45 min).

Thanks!
 

Tiber_Brew

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The reason I ask about the yeast is I have remade the first batch I ever made and used a different yeast (WLP0001). I originally used US-05. I noticed that the WLP0001 yielded a much different mouthfeel than the US-05. the WLP feels closer to the widowmaker in the can.
A different mouthfeel? Did they finish at a different FG? I've had remarkably similar results with those two yeasts in the past.

Also, could steeping longer give me the darker color as well? I think I only steeped for 25 min. Maybe if I do a longer steep (45 min).

Thanks!
Steeping longer could help impart more color, but if you do that, you'll get more flavor from it as well. You could try using a larger amount, but steeping short like you are now, or even shorter.
 

BadDeacon

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I'm not good on taking notes while i brew.

First batch:

OG: 1.05
FG: 1.01
Yeast: US-05

Second batch:

OG: 1.06 estimated - forgot to take reading
FG: 1.014
Yeast: WLP0001

2 differences in recipe:

1) first used 6lb LME. Second used 7 lb DME
2) first batch in primary for 2 weeks. Second batch in primary 3.5 weeks.

I must say the mouth feel on the wlp is much smoother.
 

Tiber_Brew

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I'm not good on taking notes while i brew.

First batch:

OG: 1.05
FG: 1.01
Yeast: US-05

Second batch:

OG: 1.06 estimated - forgot to take reading
FG: 1.014
Yeast: WLP0001

2 differences in recipe:

1) first used 6lb LME. Second used 7 lb DME
2) first batch in primary for 2 weeks. Second batch in primary 3.5 weeks.

I must say the mouth feel on the wlp is much smoother.
That isn't really a fair comparison of the two yeasts, though. The US-05 attenuated more than the WLP001, but not necessarily because of the difference in the yeast itself. Those were two different batches, using different sugar sources, fermented for a different length of time in the primary. I've done side by side comparisons with those two yeasts by splitting an 11 gallon batch into two carboys and pitching rehydrated US-05 in one, and a starter of WLP001 in the other. They have always attenuated the same for me. There have been some batches where the flavor difference was vaguely noticeable, but not significant. Most of the time they have come out nearly identical.

The mouthfeel perception you're getting is merely from the WLP001 batch attenuating 4 points less. The beer that finished at the high FG (1.014) would have more sugars left, leaving a heavier, fuller body by a tad. This might be due to the LME vs. the DME, and/or the different OG. Pitching rates will also affect the attenuation.

You're also going to want to keep the gravity below 1.060 OG for this beer in the future.

Are you going to be brewing this again soon?
 

BadDeacon

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Alright, gonna try this one again but an AG version. Percentages are a tad different than the original post and I am doing a BIAB so the grain bill is a bit higher.

8.75# 2 row
0.5# chocolate
0.5# black

2 oz Williamette - 60 min

Got the LHBS to double mill everything as well.

I hope to find time this weekend to brew this one up.
 

BadDeacon

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Bottling day. I must say I am much happier with the color this time. I ended up w 8oz of chocolate & black malt each. I shined a flashlight on the back of the carboy and couldn't see a thing!!! Smell is slightly hoppy. Smells like a light APA. but with the black color and hint of chocolate.

image-742933534.jpg
 

tbel

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Well? How did this last batch compare?
I hadn't thought to try and clone this, but I do enjoy it.
The only way I get it is to take the one hour trip over to Wisconsin. Sorry to say the don't distribute to MN.
 

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It turned out really great. If I had hit my OG I think it would have been perfect. I used wlp090. This was a BIAB recipe and I am new to the technique. I mashed too thick.

I'll post a pic tomorrow.
 

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Thanks for the response! I'll add this to the long list of must brews!
 

tbel

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How about mash and ferm temps? I'm entering this into Beersmith. The title "BadDeacon's Widowmaker clone".
Though I will be using Breiss Midnight Wheat vs the Black.
 

BadDeacon

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Heat 5 gal to 160

Mash in at hold at 152 for 60 min stirring frequently.

I then lift the basket halfway out and tie it off to garage door.

Sparge w 2-2.5 gal of 170 deg water through basket.

Begin boil. I usually leave my basket over the pot and let it drip. I don't press on the bag. Usually 45 min if dripping gets the vast majority of wort out.

Btw. This has a good toasty initial flavor, then the chocolate pops through.

If you wanna try something a little different, add a tablespoon of jack to your glass before bottling. Changes the flavor considerably!!!

image-2044738451.jpg
 

BadDeacon

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I forgot. Ferment at 65 for a week then bring it up to 68-70 for another week or two. I highly recommend a blow off.
 

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Brewing version 3.

9# 2row
12 oz black pat
4 oz chocolate

2 oz williamette - 60 min.

Dropped chocolate down to get away from the stoutish taste if last batch.
 

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Hit about 85% efficiency. OG was 1.044. I know it's a tad low but heading into summer, I wanted something a little lower on the abv scale.
 

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How did the third version turn out? I love this beer and would like to clone it soon. What I like most about the beer is how light the mouth feel is, while you still get a roasty character and a good dark color. Did your 3rd recipe turn out lighter and less stouty?
 

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Sadly it is still in the fermenter. I have been coaching soccer and had all my Saturdays screwed up. Also got a screwed up eye and laid out for another week. Gonna try to bottle this week.

Fermentation went crazy days 3-7. Steadily bubbling since. Been cool here and haven't been wanting to rush it. I have noticed lately that I tend to do that.

More to come later in the week. I plan on reusing the cake of this for the C3C. Batch I have planned next. So I trying to time a bottle and brew day together but may just need to bottle and wash the yeast.
 

BadDeacon

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Ok, cracked one open after being in the bottle for 5 days. Good initial carb. Still needs 2 weeks for it to mellow out. But I think this one is pretty darn close!

ImageUploadedByHome Brew1397174972.991079.jpg

Beer on!
 
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