After tasting a number of local homebrewers’ fantastic big beers Lex and I decided to make one of our own. It might also have had something to do with the new kegging setup we just purchased and want to try out.

Since we had recently blessed our pallets with Firestone Walker’s Wookie Jack Black IPA we decided on that style for this weeks beer. This is also our first all-grain big beer which is exciting on it’s own.

The original recipe was going to be a smoked black IPA but the local homebrew supply store was fresh out of smoked malt. We decided to replace it with victory malt to lend a nice baked bread/biscuity sweet undertone to an otherwise harsh flavored beer. So without further ado, here’s our recipe complete with pictures of the brew day!

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Since darker beers tend to acidify themselves nicely I needed very little water adjustment. I used 30% RO water and 70% tap water with 1 tsp of CaCl and .5 tsp of gypsum and 1/5 of a Campden tablet (potassium metabisulfide) to treat for chloramines.

Vital Stats

  • OG 1.088
  • FG 1.022 (expected)
  • SRM 38-44
  • IBU ~90
  • ABV 8.9% (expected)

Mashed at 155’F for 90 minutes with 6.5 gallons of water. I do BIAB so it was a full volume no sparge mash. The efficiency ended up being right about 70%

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The beer mashing under blankets

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Draining the bag 
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Delicious sweet wort

Grain Bill

  • 12 lb 2-Row
  • 2.5 lb Victory
  • .5 lb Carapils
  • .5 lb Crystal 20
  • .5 lb Crystal 75
  • .3 lb Black malt
  • .3 lb Carafa II
  • .3 lb Midnight wheat

Hops Schedule

60 min additions

  • .5 oz Columbus

30 min additions

  • .5 oz Simcoe
  • .5 oz Chinook

15 min Additions 

  • .75 oz Simcoe
  • .5 oz Chinook

Flameout Additions 

  • 1.25 oz Simcoe
  • 1 oz Centennial

Dryhop Additions

pellets added directly to the primary after fermentation slows, and retained for 12 days before racking to keg

  • 1.5 oz Columbus
  • .5 oz Simcoe
  • 1 oz Centennial

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We used WY1056 American Ale yeast. We decided to make beer the night before brew day, so we didn’t have time to do a full starter. Instead we pitched ~100 billion cells into a 1.5 liter starter and left it on the stir plate overnight and pitched the entire starter at high krausen into the beer. I would usually be worried about off flavors from the oxidized starter beer, but at only 5% of the total volume and going into a strongly flavored beer, I’m not too concerned in this case.

The beer showed signs of fermentation within 4 hours.

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The post boil taste was fantastic with a nice hop bitterness and a good dark bitter bite from the black malts. I think this should end up being a great brew and after a few tweaks will become a house winter beer.

I’m also very excited that we will no longer be bottling our beer. Most of the kegging equipment will be here this week and the total bill was about $400 for the complete setup including a freezer.
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For now, we will be using party taps inside the keezer, but over the next year or so I intend to build a nice collared keezer with some perlock faucets and a rustic pallet-wood facade. There will definitely be several posts on that build.

I hope my readers try out this recipe and offer some tweaks and feedback. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE:

This beer was delicious. We have finished the keg and I don’t know if we’ll change a thing for the next batch. The roasty-ness of the black malts and the hops complimented each other nicely. The FG remained fairly high at 1.018 which gave it a thick mouthfeel but still sat at around 8.9% alcohol. The hop flavor was very overwhelming in the first week after kegging, but mellowed to the perfect level after a few weeks. If we make any changes, it might be to increase the victory malt slightly, and decrease the early hop additions very slightly. This is going into the house beer book for sure!

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