Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Rust op Twist - Imperial Stout

Rust op twist is Danish for "Relax After Work,"  now how perfect a name is that for a Caribbean Stout!  I lived in St. Croix, and it was one of the great periods of my life.  Just simple living, with an abundance of beautiful weather, rum, poker and good times!  Let's bring back a little taste of that epic era in this next brew shall we?  Sold!

Cruzan sugar mill on the Plantation named, "Rust Op Twist"
Drinking my first big brew of 17 Gage, The Ole Russian Bitch, I realized just how much I love this style and need to get more in the hopper.  Man, is it delicious.  There's something about this big black beauty that I cant help but want to explore further.

In this episode I am thinking of bucking the trend a little, and going with my my long lost love, Rum, instead of Bourbon. That said, keep it local right!  So I'm going to use a little Cape Cod flavor from Truro Vineyards.  Twenty Boat Spiced Rum.  Their top dog Brewer turned Vintner turned Distiller Dave is a fermentation machine!  In his first year of distilling he hooked a top award for their spiced rum!  So, how could I not incorporate this into my brew?  Your right, I must.

I'm thinking a medium-bodied, bold, complex, balanced campfire "mostly" dry Stout.  Not huge, but something that is a one and done (maybe two). It'll fall into my "balanced beer" category requiring a careful marriage of roast and chocolate notes, coconut flavor and a nice "aha" moment from the Rum and oak.

The first obvious choice is going to be Marris Otter for the canvas to this portrait.  Let's transition the pallet from the base to the accents with C80 and C120.  I dont want to use any low Crystals as I will get that sweetness from the Rum.  Lastly, I'll add complexity, and authenticity, from the Molasses (oh yes, you cant go Caribbean style without Molasses!).  For more on this here is a great synopsis on simple sugar brewing.

As it is a Stout we must put in our requisite amounts of roasted barley.  In this case I referenced my dry stout from early last year and my Imperial Stout as well. I enjoyed the balance of roast character in both, albeit I felt the roast was a little too acrid at 8% in the dry stout, but that aged out in 8 weeks time and this beer has more balancing malts.

After writing the above I landed with a recipe that called for a pound of roasted malt.  I took this idea to the Extreme Beer Fest in Boston and sought the advice of a Lost Abbey Brewer whose name I did not record....per his suggestion I cut the roast to half a pound.  In his opinion any more than that in any kind of Stout will transition the malt's perception from that dark, slightly bitter, coffee-ish-like glory to ashy and acrid.  As we read above, this was the case in my Dry Stout.  What I learned here is a reinforced concept of perception.  With roasted malt you can have more balancing attributes to the beer like residual sweetness, etc, but there is a point where the happy side of roast malt will give way to ashy/acrid, and in a 5G batch that happens around a pound.  So, new rule of thumb, for 5G batches if you want ashy, head to a pound plus, you want roasty, stick to half a pound of roasted malt to start and dial in from there.   Sooo...lets go with that!

Moving on!

A nice, smooth chocolate character just makes me happy, so I will add in enough for a chocolate "note," but I dont want enough to have to put it in the name, so lets keep this restrained below 5%.  It would just so happen that my boys at Devil's Purse had a sack of milled M.O. for me and they donated a sack of English Chocolate malt to the club.  Kismet.

Lastly, the coconut..OH, I didnt mention the toasted cocnut?  Well, there;s going to be toasted coconut.  After some research in the usual places I discovered efolks have had issues with the oils from the toasted coconut jacking uo ohead retention.  A process I will emply to mitigate this is to toast the coconut and then lay it out on paper towels in a thin layer and dab dry then cover with paper towel to soak up as much of the oil as possible.  I do not want to "cook," the coconut and am targeting the toasted quality of the ingredient, so I plan to add it post fermentation. No need to scrub out those beautiful toasty notes in fermentation.

One thread on quantity can  I enjoyed can be found here

Let's begin.

5G batch

OG - 1.072
FG - 1016
ABV - 7.5%
SRM - black
BUGU target - .3ish (Overly cautious here to not add too much in terms of bittering.  The chocolate malt and roast will also be providing bittering.  The sum of the parts is what we are drinking, so all must be accounted for.)

Marris O - 10 lbs (60%)
2-row (finishing a sack) - 3 lbs (18%)
Chocolate - .5 lbs (3%)
Roasted Barley - .5 lbs (3%)
C80 - .5 lbs (3%)
C120 - .5 lbs (3%)
Molasses - 1 lbs (6%)
Carapils - .5 lbs (3%)
Toasted Coconut (secondary) - 1 lbs

Hops - 1 oz Fuggle (4.5%) at 60

Yeast - I have a mixed culture of Cal Ale (001) and Dry English (007).  Yes, that just might attenuate this puppy on down.  Will warm up entire 250ml slurry.

Process: It's as easy as 1,2,3!

1. Mash 154 for 60, the yeast will attenuate this plenty, so lets leave a little backbone for the oak and toasted coconut..  Boil 90 minutes. Chill, aerate and pitch mixed culture.

2. Soak light toast oak in Cape Cod's Twenty Boat Spiced Rum for at least a week then add and leave in secondary to taste.  Pull the oak and continue.  I am a huge fan of layering flavors in this way.

3. One pound of shredded, UNSWEETENED coconut, toasted, "de-oiled," and tossed in two weeks before kegging.  Carb, and enjoy!  If you have nitro, you are my hero!

Brew Day - 4/8/15

6G to 167. Hit 146 and added a gallon of boiling water - 154.  Preboil - 1062. Added 1 oz Fuggles at 60. Molasses is in.  Warmed up yeast 250 ml (target pitch rate) in 350 ml chilled wort (not ideal, should have used second runnings earlier or just made a starter yesterday.  Boiled hard and am low on volume and high on OG (1083).  Diluted with half gallon boiled RO. Hit 1075 OG, done. Pitched at 62, lots of aeration.
4/10/15 - not around to check till now.  Look like Krausen was higher earlier, but still a 5/5 fermentation at 61.  
4/15 - came home with Baby Marcelle yesterday!  Life is so sweet!  Talk about Rust Op Twist!  So the airlock blew off and I couldn't care less, I have a daughter!  Racked to a bucket and tossed her (the beer, not my daughter) into 75 degree bath. Tasted fine, at 1026.

4/22/15 - out of bath, still 11brix - 1024.  Calling it terminal.  250ml slurry was under pitch and may not have been enough healthy yeast.  Tastes great, so I'm gonna roll with it.
4/25/15 - light toast oak spiral to rum

4/30/15 - spiral to hopper.
5/15 - brix - 10.8. molasses is nice, rum is coming through slightly, with light warming, but i may up the ante with a shot of the wooded rum to bring it!  Oak is coming through more as woody than oaky/vanilla so far.

5/25 - added 1 lbs toasted, shredded coconut (sweetened). Tasted immediately after and the character I wanted was there! Left for 1 hour and pulled the coconut...can't believe it. Aroma, flavor, it's all there. Also added 1 oz rum.

7/12/15 - its been a journey to here. The SWEETened coconut was a big misstep.   Made the brew a sweet stout.  No good, must be unsweetened.  From here the beer was out of balance for my taste, just too sweet.  Have it a month, no change.  Then we had a little bow and I upped the ante for a friend by adding a little of the Oaked rum - bingo!   Cut the Sweetness, Brought Out the wood and the molasses shines.  It's awesome. 

Next time  just use non-sweetened coconut, and instead of brewing with molasses, just brew the base beer, oak the rum  then add the oaked rum to the beer.  Also, dump the carapils, go with wheat

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