Last weekend I was able to pull the trigger on making my version of the Three Floyd's Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. I found a couple of recipes online, but not one that could be verified. So looking at the two recipes, as well as doing some research on Dark Lord, and finally checking some reliable Russian Imperial Stout (RIS) recipes, I was ready to go.
When I was doing research, I found that Three Floyds actually makes a beer out of the second runnings of the grain from the Dark Lord. That is, the beer is so big, that they actually have enough "runnings" or liquid sugar converted from the grains to make a lighter beer. This is called the Slave Princess, and it is described as being somewhat chocolatey and hopped up. So I knew that if I was going to make something big, dark, plodding and heavy, I would have to name it after the forefathers of big, dark and plodding, Black Sabbath. I was going to call the secondary beer Dio ale, or Holy Diver ale, but it just wasn't working for me. Then I decided that Ozzy left Sabbath first, so he should really get some credit, and at this time I went looking for some Ozzy CDs and thought, Mr. Crowley would make a great name for the beer.
Black Sabbath Imperial Stout
20 lbs 2-row malt (went cheap, could've done Marris Otter)
2 lbs roasted barley
1 lb chocolate malt
1 lb Crystal malt, 80*L
1 lb flaked oats
1 lb flaked barley
1 lb, 3 oz Duneland honey
8 oz Grandma's Original Unsulphured Molasses
2.5 oz Magnum hops (13.6% AA) @ 60 minutes (102.6 IBU)
Wyeast Imperial Blend 9093-PC Yeast
Targeting an Original Gravity of 1.125
The only difference between this brew and other all-grain brews I have done is that I had to use John's equipment. He's got a couple of old kegs that he bought at the junk shop and converted into a mash tun and another that we use as a hot liquor vessel.
Usually, I can put in the number of quarts of water per pound in ProMash, and my dough-in temperature is spot on. That is, I wanted to mash the grain at 154*F; the grain is reading 62*F on the thermometer I got sticking out of the grain, and therefore, at 1.4 quarts per pound, I needed a total of 9.1 gallons of water at 168*F. That's when I'm using my plastic 48 quart cooler/mash tun. This is stainless steel, so when I doughed-in (dropped all the grain into the water), it ended up mashing at 158*F for an hour. You might be thinking that 4*F shouldn't make all the difference, but 154*F will yield more sugar from the grain. I just let it ride. I figured I was maybe 5 lbs over the amount of 2-row that I needed, so screw it, I'd be okay.
Everything did go fine. I ended up starting the boil with 6.5 gallons of wort, but my boil wasn't as vigorous as I thought, so I ended up with 6 gallons instead of 5. Original gravity (OG) was 1.094, a bit lower than the 1.125 I was targeting, but that's what I get for 1) mashing at too high of a temperature, and 2) not boiling down to 5 gallons.
We ran it through the counterflow chiller and pitched the yeast at 68*F. I made a 1.25 gallon starter. We decanted the yeast and threw it in there. After 3 hours, I was starting to see some action in my sad excuse for a blowoff tube. I modified a ferment lock and had a 3/8" hose running into a quart mason jar. In the morning, I had a surprise.
As I made my way to the basement, I could smell the molasses. It smelled great. As I rounded the corner into the mancave, I saw about 12 ounces of dark wort on the ground and the top of the conical lid being forced off:
Mind you, this photo is from after the first cleanup. I actually tried putting a 10-lb weight on the lid to see what would happen, and sure enough, the blowoff tube started working somewhat. Then the lid blew off again. So I said, screw it. I was going to go get a 1-inch blowoff tube from the hardware store, but it didn't open until 8:00 a.m., so I just decided to relax and not worry about it.
I got home, sanitized the lid, used a clean rag doused in sanitization solution, cleaned around the lid, dunked the blowoff tube into the sanitizer and put it back together. Soon, it was chugging one bubble per second, keeping perfect time with the clock. The black ale was moving at about the same speed.
Today I did a gravity check, and it's down to 1.040. Still pumping a bubble into the jar every 3-4 seconds. The beer tastes great. At first I thought the hops were too big, but then I returned to the sample about 15 minutes later after the sediment had settled and it was just right. I could taste the roasted barley, chocolate, and some cherries in there. Plan is to let this finish, harvest some of that yeast so I can make an Imperial IPA in the future, then dry-bean it with some strong coffee and a vanilla bean. I think this beer will definitely be one that will improve with some bottle conditioning over the years.
The black ale started at 1.042. Not bad. I used the runnings from the mash tun as well as added the same amount of honey to this brew. Hops used were 0.5 oz of Magnum @ 60 minutes and 0.5 oz of Columbus @ 20 minutes. I'll likely dry hop it with an ounce of Simcoe. I will taste it first, once it is racked to see if this might add to the beer. If not, I'll rack it to secondary, wait two weeks and bottle it.