A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Had a good one? Tell us about it here - and don't forget - we like pictures!
User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:25 pm

Gents,

Just packing up my car with my brew-rig now, I'm off into the wilds for a couple of days for my first ever collaborative brew.

I'm planning a Russian Imperial Stout along these lines...


Bordeaux Barrel Aged Imperial Stout


Recipe Specs
----------------
Batch Size (L): 40.0
Total Grain (kg): 16.532
Total Hops (g): 170.00
Original Gravity (OG): 1.090 (°P): 21.6
Final Gravity (FG): 1.023 (°P): 5.8
Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 8.84 %
Colour (SRM): 36.7 (EBC): 72.2
Bitterness (IBU): 80.5 (Average)
Brewhouse Efficiency (%): 70
Boil Time (Minutes): 75

Grain Bill
----------------
10.000 kg Pale Ale Malt (60.49%)
2.800 kg Munich II (16.94%)
1.380 kg Caramunich III (8.35%)
0.800 kg Wheat Malt (4.84%)
0.500 kg Chocolate (3.02%)
0.500 kg Coffee Malt from Soufflet (3.02%)
0.352 kg Flaked Oats (2.13%)
0.200 kg Black Patent (1.21%)

Hop Bill
----------------
100.0 g Northern Brewer Leaf (11.4% Alpha) @ 75 Minutes (Boil) (2.5 g/L)
40.0 g Northern Brewer Leaf (11.4% Alpha) @ 50 Minutes (Boil) (1 g/L)
30.0 g Hallertau Mittlefrueh Leaf (6.3% Alpha) @ 15 Minutes (Aroma) (0.8 g/L)

Misc Bill
----------------
20.0 g Whirlfloc Tablet @ 15 Minutes (Boil)

Single step Infusion at 66°C for 70 Minutes.

That'll be a number of brews that after primary are getting racked into a old Bordeaux wine barrel. So, 225 litres worth... and hence the rough approximation on the name until we come up with something more noteworthy. I have a choice of recently emptied barrels... sticking my nose in the bunghole (!) was a revelation. I know plenty of people stateside made bourbon cask aged RIS beers... I'm hoping to pick up a little vanilla, oak and slightly sour vinous edge from the barrel. No idea what else might come with it in terms of bacteriological load of course but that's what I hope makes this beer a little unique.


Appreciate any suggestions on the recipe (Malt mixture, EBC, and IBU/hopping strategy) greatly received

I'm just about to go and weigh and crush my first set of grains and will be mashing in at 8am tomorrow.

User avatar
Andy
Virtually comatose but still standing
Posts: 8715
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:00 pm
Location: Ash, Surrey
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Andy » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:30 pm

Sounds interesting! Are you all brewing your individual contributions at the same time / place ?
Dan!

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:33 pm

Yep, my brew-buddy here has a small scale rig... so we'll be doing back-to-back brews and filling 60L fermenters.

My rig is much smaller so I've got five brews to do... it's two days worth of brewing. Only problem with making such a high ABV beer... mashtun capacity is the constraint!

Lugsy

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Lugsy » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:15 pm

When I started reading this I was impressed you were doing 40l of imperial stout, when I saw you were filling a barrel I was stunned! Well done =D>

Grains and hops look good but I'd be tempted to add a bit of sugar to bring down the FG a bit, maybe 500g or so per batch. My sugar-free RIS ended up at about 1.027 and it'll take a while before it becomes drinkable, if ever, it's got a LOT of body!

So what the hell are you going to do with 225l of this? Need a hand drinking it?

Let us know how the brewing goes :)

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:24 pm

Lugsy wrote:When I started reading this I was impressed you were doing 40l of imperial stout, when I saw you were filling a barrel I was stunned! Well done =D>

Grains and hops look good but I'd be tempted to add a bit of sugar to bring down the FG a bit, maybe 500g or so per batch. My sugar-free RIS ended up at about 1.027 and it'll take a while before it becomes drinkable, if ever, it's got a LOT of body!

So what the hell are you going to do with 225l of this? Need a hand drinking it?

Let us know how the brewing goes :)
Thanks for your feedback, can I ask... when you made yours did you note your mash temp, yeast strain and fermentation temp?

In order to make this even doable in a couple of days I've adjusted my recipe so that I lower my strike water to 2l/Kg instead of my preferred 3l. If the first couple of batches are sticky/messy I'll adjust the grain bill and do 3l/Kg for a lower yield... and back fill that with some Candi-syrup.

I've made plenty before and something in the medium dark/raisiny/figgy territory will fit the bill. Infact, given your advice... I may go there anyway!

I made an imperial stout last year, I did add a little extra sugar but that finished at 1022. It was thick with a great mouthfeel... and was one of the best beers I've ever had... it was the genesis for this experiment.

What will I do with it? Well only half of it will be mine. It'll need a few months in the barrel to condition I think before we bottle off any and I suspect we might well drawn down 20L at a go, brew another batch and re-pitch that for ongoing conditioning. That way we consistently take off a brew that's many months old yet kept alive for a long time. We'll see. A lot depends on the barrel and whatever it brings to the party.

I've got a long journey to take to get to that point... I'll take snaps and post back on how it goes.

Lugsy

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Lugsy » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:02 am

This was my attempt. It's not even 6 months old yet so there's still a long way to go before I know what it's going to turn out like.

I don't think the runaway fermentation has done it any favours to be honest, pitching the wort onto a whole yeast cake was probably a mistake :oops:

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:24 pm

90 litres in FV's

Exhausting day.

Lots of lessons learned, back at it at 6:30am tomorrow

Pics and write up on Thursday.

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:58 am

Hit our stride and have 240 litres of the Imperial Stout in FVs. For good measure a further 42 litres of a smaller 'table beer' that we made from our lighter runnings was the bonus prize.

A hastily constructed 3rd mashtun allowed us to close on double yesterday's performance so I'm delighted at that.

Things went so well that we actually ground the grains and heated the water for a further 60 litres of the main stout but called it a day... we'd been at it for 12 hours at that point.

Pics and a full write up in the next day or so.

So, it's done. I suspect there's many months patient waiting to be done now.

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:49 pm

The genesis of the idea
A few weeks ago, stopped into a bottle store/bar in Poitiers for a beer on my way to the airport for a flight to the UK. A browse around the bottle shop and I picked up a few faves (Westmalle, a saison, some chimay etc.) out of a good selection of 300+ beers and they also had a load of fresh Bordeaux barriques for sale. It set me thinking… Barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout!

One of my most favourite brewing blogs ‘the mad fermentationist’ did a similar wheeze a few years ago. Always thought that was a bit of blast and I think I’ve read and re-read his posts on the subject quite a few times. Michael is a passionate home brewer and his enthusiasm is infectious.

Background reading
The BJCP style guide for RIS.
14 of the top 20 Ratebeer scores are RIS style beers. Good to read up on some of those.
My first RIS.
My recipe in XML, scaled down for 20 litres should you gancy tackling it.

The brewday(s)

Up in the middle of the night and then a drive over to my friends house. The view from the office.
Image
Sunrise over Angliers by adrianfoden, on Flickr


I jointly brewed with my ‘brew buddy’ Yann. I met him in 2009 through a rendezvous that we set up via a French amateur brewing forum. He’s serious about beer, has been to a brewing school (here in France up at Douai in the Nord-pas-de-Calais) and has built a brewery at his family home in the Vienne. This was an opportunity to christen the new brewery.
Image
new brewery by adrianfoden, on Flickr

When I say new.. it was very new. No water, no electricity, no lights, no drains, no easily washable floor. None of that mattered – we rigged it up and made it all work – rugged style!

Image
Brasseur by adrianfoden, on Flickr

First thing was to set up some tables (dry work area, wet work area), lay out our stocks, lay out the burners, organise a proper workflow. We didn’t get that quite right first time but soon hit our stride after a few minor adjustments and quickly ironed out the wrinkles.


The core equipment we used, 100l HLT, 100l kettle, 50l, 70l kettles. 2x 10kw burners, 2x 8kw burners, mill, CD player, a cat, wit and cunning. 6x 60l FV's, a Dozen 30l buckets.


Image
Big Space by adrianfoden, on Flickr


We soon established a rhythm on how to weigh, grind, heat, mash, lauter, boil, chill and then transfer to fv the multiple brews. I was really pleased with how well we got it together. My first time to ever brew with anyone else and we quickly adopted a process.

Image
Grain weigh station by adrianfoden, on Flickr

Aside from all the brewing antics we made a little time for some civilised coffee and cakes… and on the second day afternoon even a beer or two in the sunshine.

Image
Getting busy brewing stout by adrianfoden, on Flickr

At the end of day one we'd only achieved 90l. It was clear we needed another mash vessel so a third one was brought in to play and that saved the day.

Image
HLT and Mash kettles by adrianfoden, on Flickr


Image
Yann brewing. by adrianfoden, on Flickr



Schoolboy errors.

Oh, plenty of those.
Schoolboy error #1...

Image
Oops by adrianfoden, on Flickr
Always double check that you’ve shut the valve on the mashtun before you add the strike water. Embarrassingly not the first time I’ve done that. I’ll fix it in my own home brew system by starting to do some underletting. Soon.

Schoolboy error #2
Our enthusiasm for the brew ensured that we over extracted the wort down to too low a density on the first couple of brews. So, sometimes we filled a boil kettle with an average 1068 and finishing in the upper 70s. By the second day I was getting 1087 on a 1090 target which is fine. A lot depends on where it finishes of course but when blended the batch will still come in at 8.3% instead of the calculated 8.84% - so not too far out and within the bounds for the style.

The mystery bonus? We started on day two by actually only drawing off what we were supposed to and letting the lower runnings be kept aside. Somewhat unexpectedly that gave us an extra 42 litres of a 12.5(p) beer.

Originally planned to use saffale S-04. Change of plan. We had 500g of a Belgian speciality yeast (S-33) on hand… designed for 8-12% beers. I’d brought along some sterile starter wort so we hydrated for a good strong pitch of creamy yeast. Good thick creamy krausen even after 24 hours with no big lag… time will tell.

Lessons learned.
The whole thing was quite a humbling experience. First time I’ve ever scaled my brewing activities beyond a simple single batch on a single brewday. I’ve only ever mashed in once in a day and I normally make 20 litres of a 5/6% beer like an IPA/ESB or 40 litres of emminenty sessionable mild / bitter.
The scaling it up was a strange thing. Having such a big beer was always going to make things difficult. We made a third mashtun which saved the day but even so our combined mash volume was just 85 litres. Not enough.

Brewing is hard work. My typical grain bill on things I make is 5-7 Kg. We chewed through 100kg here. Lugging that about and weighing it out and milling it was a slog.

Heating. I was heating 100litres at a go in the main HLT vessel. That takes a long time even with a big 10Kw burner… and we chewed through a full bottle of gas. Electricity is cheap in France so to do it on any kind of scale it makes much more sense to heat your HLT with off peak leccy. Even bringing the wort to a boil (66l in a 70L Kettle and 46L in a 50l kettle) took an age with 8kw burners. This cost us a lot of time.

Cooling. We were drawing well water for this. On the last brew I diverted the cooling outflow into an empty IBC to measure the volume as a bit of a science experiment. Despite running a counterflow whirlpool to increase the amount of active cooling by pumping hot wort over the cooling coil. Result? 800+ litres into the IBC. So, our teeny-tiny immersion chillers weren’t man enough for the task and we pished away a lot of water. Some kind of design on a heat recovery system to warm the next batch of water coming in would be got-to-have in the smallest brewery that does back to back batches..

Pumping. We would have been screwed without a pump. You can’t move around these kinds of volumes of burningly hot stickyness in any safety without one. Effortless. One pump isn’t enough though. Could have easily used two. Three would have been great and it would have taken the pressure off when I had to strip down the pump due to hop up-suckage and blockeration. I should write another post about stripping down and cleaning a totton mag coupled pump. Impressive turbine action inside them and a weak sopt on the ceramic bearings where big ‘stuff’ gets stuck. My bad though.

Hop filter. Yeah. Need one of those.

Densitometer. My new best friend. Have ordered one.

Hop sacks. My first time. Jury is still out. Tossing away 150g of pellet mass that smells very fresh made me think we might not have had the maximum extraction from them. Mindyou – hops always smell good to me!

My laptop at the end of day one was peppered in malt flour and bran husks. This made me happy.

On day two I didn’t need a laptop. Everything committed to memory. This made me happier.

Cleaning. Pain in the ass. Took a long time. I took >140Kg of spent grains home with me for our chickens and my neighbours pigs. They went bezerk for them as they’re no doubt chock full of sugary goodness even now.

Final thoughts? The most epic brewing of my life. Huge fun. Physically exhausting, mentally stimulating.

Got to go and get that barrel now.
Last edited by bellebouche on Fri Dec 02, 2011 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Andy
Virtually comatose but still standing
Posts: 8715
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:00 pm
Location: Ash, Surrey
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Andy » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:45 pm

Wow! Thanks for putting that together, an epic brew session :)
Dan!

User avatar
Jim
Site Admin
Posts: 9915
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: Washington, UK

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Jim » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:05 pm

Nice! Your friend's brew shed is bigger than my house! :lol:
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" - Philip K. Dick

JBK on Facebook
JBK on Twitter

Lugsy

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by Lugsy » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:15 pm

Superb! =D>

A great write-up for an epic brew, you must be pretty pleased with yourself :D

What's the brewing scene like in France then? Me and SWMBO have friends in the Loire valley and we're seriously thinking about making the move over there in the next couple of years, we love the lifestyle there and we both have the chance of work so we just have to get the language sorted now.

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:02 pm

A week in and a first report from my brew-buddy who has custody of the FV's!

Fermenting cool yet the brix reading has dropped to 11 (from 21.5).

That's all for now... next week... I'll begin the search for the barrel!

User avatar
bellebouche
Hollow Legs
Posts: 402
Joined: Tue May 12, 2009 12:06 pm
Location: Poitou-Charentes, France
Contact:

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by bellebouche » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:52 pm

Long time, no update - but the barrel programme is underway!

Sourced a quality used barrel locally. The character that French oak imparts to wine subdues after the amount of time that the barrel is used for. I understand this one have had three fills. They can go for more of course but the toast, the vanillin and wood tannins all diminish with time. That's fine for me as a beer maker as I want to leach all of that wine character back out of the oak!

So, took the seats out of my car (an Espace) and had it strapped in for the journey home. They're quite a size.

Image
barrique - collected form the merchant by adrianfoden, on Flickr

The makers website gives some info on the source forests, how all the staves are all hand split (!) and the construction details. It's barrel-tastic!

Image
barrique - the Makers Badge by adrianfoden, on Flickr

http://www.tonnellerie-bordelaise.com/indexgb.htm

So, home and washed the outside with a hot oxy-clean to lift a little of the wine stains off the exterior and freshen it up.

Image
barrique rinse by adrianfoden, on Flickr


A lengthy internal visual inspection shows a crusty layer of tartrates at the bottom, easy to get them out with a quick rinse. The ends and interior surface look to be in good order and the smell inside is simply wonderful. .



Image
Barrique - washed and scrubbed up. by adrianfoden, on Flickr

A quick visual check at the wine merchants didn't show any issue with the fit and form but the only way to be sure is with a leak test. A fill with cold water and a quantity of sodium metabisulphate took a long time. The re-hydration after 18 hours showed the exterior dry and no leaks. Result.

Image
barrique - tartrates by adrianfoden, on Flickr

The dessicated wine-trub and tartrate crystals looks very pretty!

Then, it'll be left for a little more time before a steam-sterilise to dissolve and flush out the remaining tartrate crystals. I'll flame a sulphur stick in it for SO2 to keep it inert and then... it'll be ready for a final hot wash, sanitation sloosh with a no-rinse peracetic acid and then final fill to the brim.

I'll give it a few months over the summer, will draw 20 litres and bottle that in early August (backfilling with the same recipe beer) and then see how it's going.

If it get the condition I expect (or it is on the way) then I expect that in late October or so I'll be in the market for 300 Champagne bottles and the mother of all bottling days. Good times.

gnutz2

Re: A hogshead, a firkin at a time

Post by gnutz2 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:52 pm

Epic :D

Post Reply