Some help here?

This is one of the rare times I ask for some class participation.  My imperial stout seems to have stalled in the bottle, carbonating slightly but nowhere close to where it needs to be.  I’ve inverted the bottles on two separate occasions to stir the yeast up and get it going again, but it appears my attempts have failed.  Taste wise, the stout is excellent and I want to save this batch at all costs.  What’s funny is when I brewed this last year, it ended up overcarbonating.  Is this just a case of a fickle yeast?

This was my idea for saving it.  Get a sachet of US-05, rehydrate it in warm sterile water, uncap the bottles, and add about a mL or two of the yeast suspension to each bottle, recap and invert a couple of times.

So what say you?  Does this sound like a good idea?  Does anybody have any other advice to give…preferably based on your actual past experiences?  Thanks in advance.


Busy weekend- Saison and Imperial Stout

I had two brew days this past weekend.  I brewed the wedding saison on Saturday afternoon and my imperial stout on Sunday morning.  I had the house all to myself, so I took full advantage of the opportunity.  When these beers are done, I’ll do full grain-to-glass summaries.  The stout’s OG was 1.105, my highest ever.  Both brew days went as smoothly as they could possibly go.  Another piece of good news is that my kriek is carbonating nicely.  I was worried that with it being in secondary for so long, that the yeast would be extremely sluggish or just inactive.  I’ll crack one open at the end of August and do a full report.  Honestly, I’m expecting it to taste shitty because this style is so difficult to do right and this was my first try at it.  Hey, if I go in with low expectations, it’s hard to be disappointed, right?

Imperial OG Imperial Wort

Sour Beer Follow-up

I had posted previously about purchasing two of Green Bench Brewing’s bottle releases here back in October. The first was called For the Mad Ones (a Jack Kerouac reference). It was a sour rye brown aged in cabernet sauvignon bottles. I had cracked that one open over a month ago during a get together at my residence. It did not go over very well. Despite it being a rye brown, the expected flavor characteristics that you would assume would come along with that style were completely lost in the avalanche of sourness that punched me in the face. Yeah, I get it. It’s a sour. But what’s the point when the malt base of the beer is completely overpowered. My friend Rick was in agreement. It was a disappointment.

Which brings us to this evening. It’s a Thursday night and the other bottle was sitting in the fridge. It’s called Your Silent Captain (a shuffleboard reference) which is a tart cherry imperial stout. Here is the extended label description. “This imperial stout was slightly acidified with Lactobacillus before being fermented with over one pound of cherries per gallon of beer prior to being aged for two months in apple brandy barrels.” For some reason I wanted to crack this bad boy open this evening. I’m forever an optimist, and the phrase “slightly acidified” gave me hope that it would still resemble an imperial stout and not just a sour bomb. Erika was willing to try it with me. On the nose is cherries, cherries cherries and a whiff of alcohol. At 10.4%, that’s expected. The appearance is black with some reddish on the edges. It’s lightly carbonated and as I swirl the glass, the body appears thin and loosely fluid. On taste, its cherries, tartness and (thank god) the maltiness of a stout. In other words, balance. The tartness was pronounced but not overpowering. It fantastically complimented the roastiness of the malt profile. And the fruitiness of the cherries made it delectable. As I drank and it warmed, it became even more pleasant. On the last sip, I was a little sad that it was gone. Erika enjoyed it too, which was a big endorsement. In comparing the two bottles, I can describe the sour aspect like this. Your Silent Captain was kind of nudging me in the ribs with tartness in a playful manner. For the Mad Ones, as I said before, punched me in the face……. and then kicked me in the ribs when I was down.   So I’m glad the purchase of these bottles wasn’t a total loss. One was a waste, the other was a treasure.




Imperial Update

After two weeks in primary, it was time to check on my imperial stout.  As I mentioned previously, I was a little worried that the yeast weren’t going to get the gravity down far enough on this one and I’d end up with a stuck fermentation.  Luckily the one Wyeast smackpack of London ESB 1968 on the 2.5 gallon batch did the job.  Gravity got down to 1.025, which brings the estimated ABV to 9.3%!  So I racked the batch to secondary and added my flavorings.  2 oz of cocoa nibs, 1oz of cinnamon sticks and 1 oz of vanilla beans (sliced down the center).  The next morning I did a taste test and the cinnamon and vanilla were already coming through so I removed them (they were in a sack) because I was paranoid that leaving them in too long would cause those flavors to overpower the beer.  The nibs will remain in there and the secondary will sit for a week before I bottle.

Imperial FG

Brewing, racking, bottling

The brewery has been very active this past weekend.   Three beers, three different stages.  I brewed and racked on Friday and bottled on Sunday.

Brew Day-  The Sleeper Imperial Stout

This is essentially my second crack at an imperial stout.  My first was a few months ago with Quantum Deep.  But that was before I really discovered my actual brewhouse efficiency (about 60%), fell woefully short of my target ABV and essentially ruined it by adding coffee beans to my secondary.  It was a mess all around but I learned some important stuff from that fiasco.  So I’ve modified some things, renamed it and and I was ready to go again.

The Sleeper Imperial Stout (2.5 gallon BIAB)


7.5 lbs Briess Pale Ale Malt

0.25 lbs Roasted Barley

0.25 lbs Briess Black Malt

0.25 lbs Crisp Pale Chocolate

0.25 lbs Crisp Crystal 60

1.0 lbs Light DME (added after boil start)

0.5 lbs Light Brown Sugar (added 12 min left in boil)

0.5 lbs Lactose (added 12 min left in boil)

Mash:  90 min @ 151 F

Sparge: 1 gallon @ 170F

Boil: 60 min


0.75 oz Summit (60 min)

0.25 oz Summit (10 min)

0.5 oz Cascade (flameout)

Yeast:  Wyeast London ESB 1968

Because I’m using some DME, this isn’t technically “all grain”.  But it is the only way that I can boost my OG to the level I need with my current equipment.  The brown sugar is there to help also.  I usually prefer to use dry yeast whenever possible because it’s easier to use, it’s much cheaper and I’ve made very good beers with them.  I was originally going to use US-04 for this but my LHBS was inexplicably out.  They’ve been having some inventory issues lately.  So the Wyeast 1968 was the best substitute.   But I’m a little concerned that it won’t get the batch as dry as I need it to be.  So I plan on seeing where my gravity is after two weeks and if needed (which I assume it will be needed), I’ll rack it to secondary and pitch another pack of yeast to keep it moving.  This is also my first time using a blow off tube because I expect this to be a very active fermentation.  I got through the initial couple days of bubbling fury and everything was contained thankfully.


OG:  1.108 (target), 1.096 (actual) I’ll need another 1 lb of DME next time, but I’m still within imperial range.

IBU:  92.46

SRM: 40

Estimated Target ABV 9%.

Imperial Ingredients  Imperial Mash  Imperial Wort

Imperial Primary

Rollin’ Barrel Racking

I racked the bourbon porter onto the oak chips and bourbon.  Gravity reading before the bourbon was 1.022 which makes it about 5.7%.  The bourbon is calculated to add another 1% to that.  The porter will sit in secondary for 7 days before being bottled.

Barrel Primary  Barrel Secondary  Barrel FG

Witty Kitty Witbier

Erika’s witbier has been in primary for 14 days.  Taste test was excellent and FG was 1.003!!!  That’s dry.  Brewer’s Friend calculated it going down to only 1.012.  So the yeast, for whatever reason, went hog wild and we are looking at an ABV of  6.6% instead of the anticipated  4.5%     The yeast has definitely hazed up the beer, which is desirable and it does have that unique belgian flavor imparted by the yeast and the spiciness due to the coriander.  Bottling yielded 18 12 oz bottles and one 16 oz PET.  Erika looks pretty happy.

Witty Racking  Witty Bottling  Witty Taste Test  Witty batch

Next Friday I’m making a small batch of cream ale for Amy, co-proprietor of 2B’s, and bottling the bourbon porter.  It’ll be another busy day.  But I love it.