Article

Russian Imperial Stout Clones & Brewing Tips

When you’re talking beer and you say “stout,” some things come immediately to mind, most notably the words “dark” and “roasty.” When you say “imperial stout,” however, you’ve just left the realm of normal, everyday beer and ratcheted up your impressions and expectations to a whole different level. Imperial stout (or, if you prefer, Russian imperial stout, or RIS) is a quantum leap up in flavor, intensity, and complexity from most stouts. When compared to the tamer versions — most notably the dry or Irish stout — it’s almost hard to believe they’re in the same style family. It’s like looking at a toy poodle and an Irish wolfhound and realizing that, yep, they’re both dogs . . . but also realizing that comparing the two is going to take some serious explaining.

Imperial stout is one of the real Cadillac styles of beer, and also provides a fantastic playground for brewers on which to experiment, interpret, and design. Doing so, though, also requires us to tread carefully and dodge some pitfalls, as this is a challenging style to brew.

STYLE BASICS

If there’s one thing we can say without hesitation, it’s that imperial stout is expected to be big. It’s the many variations and prospective balance points within that “bigness” that present such an entertaining and interesting array of choices for brewers, but there are some common threads that run between most interpretations of the style. Before we take up some recipe considerations, we should touch base on what’s typical across the style: High alcohol levels, rich body, lots of roast and bitterness, and a complex range of caramel and fruit flavors.

Most “imperial” beers feature higher-than-usual alcohol levels, and RIS is no exception. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines, the lower threshold for ABV is 8%, with others heading up into double digits, effectively ranging up to the practical limit of what beer yeast strains can handle before alcohol toxicity starts to do them in. For all of its alcohol, though, these should not be “hot” beers: Alcohol should be noticeable, contribute to flavor, and add a degree of smooth warming in the mouth and chest, but a hot character is a fault.

These also tend to be “full” beers, and unlike some other beers that might cheat by ramping up the carbonation to fill out the mouthfeel, imperial stouts come by it honestly by utilizing a significant percentage of caramel and chocolate malts in their grist. This tends to leave behind lots of unfermentable sugars, and the resulting texture should be solid and soft, but not syrupy.

Then we get into flavors, and suffice to say that they’re rarely subtle. Nearly all feature intense roast (sometimes bordering on burnt), especially in the form of the kind of high-cacao-percentage chocolate that tastes almost as much like the ground as it does a dessert. To this we usually add an array of dark pit fruits, dark caramel, rich bready melanoidins, and even piney or fruity hops. The best examples have a flavor profile that takes several seconds to fully play out.

And all of this is before we even get to the addition of specialty ingredients like fruit, wood, smoked malts, coffee, cacao, and more. If there’s something that’s “off limits” in an imperial stout, I’ve yet to come across it.

For all of these choices, though, RIS should still be a beer you can drink. Maybe not pint after pint (though I’ve seen some try . . .), but certainly the way one can enjoy an excellent brandy and have another small top-up from the decanter. Producing that kind of beer, though, takes some careful planning and production.

RECIPE CONSIDERATIONS

Even intense beers need some guardrails and balance. Although it’s tempting to swing for the fences here in terms of original gravity (OG), I’d caution against going much higher than an even 1.100 for your OG. Going above that mark probably doesn’t add much in the way of flavor, but it does make it harder to cleanly ferment it out and avoid the kinds of fusel alcohols that will have you breathing fire. I like to start the grist with about 80–85 percent of a good bready base malt (Maris Otter is a good choice), and then fill in the gaps with a variety of light and dark crystals, some brown malt, and a lighter chocolate malt before capping it off with about 1–2 percent of an intense black malt (black patent or roasted barley). You can, of course, also go heavier in some areas than others, even in the black malt family, depending on the overall flavor profile and balance found in the recipe. Be creative, and choose your malts with a purpose: Select by flavor, and make sure you have enough of each that its contribution will be noticeable!

Bitterness varies, and you’ll want to throttle it based on how much of the darkest chocolate malt you use: More black malt should mean fewer IBUs, to avoid an overly-harsh flavor. Having said that, I prefer to go easier on the black malt and heavier on the hops, especially with some big mid-boil additions that will add bitterness and flavor. Play around with continental or old-school hops paired with fruity hops (Northern Brewer blended with Citra®, for example) to add bright fruit notes that will complement the plum and currant, while also adding some “mature” earthy and herbal notes. My IBU:OG ratio is about 1:1, which seems high, but keep in mind we’re talking about a 10% ABV beer, so the alcohol will be adding a lot of sweetness and we’ll be aging it for a while, which means some of the bitterness will drop out over time.

Finally, choose a yeast with a high alcohol tolerance and some clean ester character. I’d avoid the spicier Belgian strains entirely in favor of some of the heritage British strains or the Wyeast 1007 (German Ale) yeast. By all means, choose a yeast that will contribute some flavor, but not one that will compete with the rest of the recipe.

PROCESS CONSIDERATIONS

Building the beer is one thing — making it is another. For as complex as this beer is, its process needs just a couple of relatively minor tweaks at the top and bottom.

First, mash at your normal temperature or a little below. I know we want a rich mouthfeel, but we should have plenty of residual sugars to get the job done. I mash this beer at my standard 152 °F (67 °C), and it more than gets the job done. You can go lower to promote attenuation, but don’t go higher. If you think it’s too thin (and you don’t detect hot alcohols, which might suggest a problem in fermentation), adjust the recipe and add more crystal malt or flaked grains to bulk up the beer. A note on crystal malts for body: If you go this route, you should be cautious that you’re not adding sweetness as well as body. Staying above the 40 °L threshold should keep added sweetness to a minimum, and you can also balance with a few more IBUs.

Second, ferment relatively cool and long, with plenty of yeast and oxygen. We want a clean fermentation. There will be more than enough alcohol presence without us roughing it up a bit, so make a starter (or increase the amount of purchased yeast) and get lots of oxygen (or air) into the chilled beer before pitching. Once you do that, start your fermentation at the low end of the ale range, about 64 °F (18 °F) and walk it up very slowly to help ensure full attenuation but limiting the production of hotter alcohols. I wouldn’t attempt this beer unless I had active temperature control or a highly temperature-stable basement (in winter). With the amount of simple sugars hanging around, the yeast will want to take off. We need to hold them in check, and then give them plenty of time to clean up when they’re done: After the completion of primary fermentation, leave it alone for a week (or two) to ensure that the yeast have given it their full attention.

Imperial stout isn’t an easy style to brew well. The challenge is significant, but more than worth it.

BROOKLYN BREWERY’S BLACK OPS CLONE

(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)

OG = 1.090 FG = 1.018

IBU = 28 SRM = 43 ABV = 10.3%

INGREDIENTS
15 lbs. (6.8 kg) 2-row pale malt
1.25 lbs. (0.57 kg) British crystal 
malt (77 °L)
0.5 lbs. (0.23 g) black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 g) British chocolate 
malt
0.25 lbs. (113 g) roasted barley
1 lb. (0.45 kg) demerara sugar
12 tsp. yeast nutrient (10 min.)
8 AAU Summit hops (60 min.) 
(0.5 oz./14 g at 16% alpha acid)
1.5 oz. (43 g) East Kent Golding 
hops (0 min.)
Wyeast 1968 (London ESB), White 
Labs WLP002 (English Ale), or Lallemand London ESB Ale yeast
78 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Adjust your brewing water with calcium chloride to reach 2:1 chloride to sulfate ratio. Mill the grains, then mix with 5.5 gallons (20.7 L) strike water to reach 122 °F (50 °C) and hold for 10 minutes, then raise to 154 °F (68 °C) and hold for 45 minutes. Mash out at 170
°F (77 °C), then proceed to vorlauf and sparge. If you don’t want to perform a step mash, you can utilize a single infusion mash by mixing 5.5 gallons (20.7 L) of 165 °F (74°C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of 152 °F (67 °C) for 60 minutes.

Sparge the grains with enough water to obtain 7 gallons (26.5 L) of wort. Stir in demerara sugar until dissolved. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and yeast nutrients according to the ingredient list.

After the boil, chill the wort to about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast. Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C) for the first seven days, then free rise to 70 °F (21 °C) and hold there until the completion of primary fermentation.

Rack beer into a 5-gallon (19 L) heat-pasteurized white oak Bourbon barrel. Age for not less than six months at cellar temperatures (52 °F/11 °C). If you don’t have an oak barrel, you can alternatively rack beer into a secondary fermenter and add Bourbon-soaked medium toast American oak chips (1 oz./5 gallons). Chips should be soaked in Bourbon for two weeks prior to being added to the beer. Age for not less than six months at cellar temperatures (52 °F/11 °C).

When complete, bottle. Re-ferment in the bottle using 10 g/L of dextrose and 1.2 M cells/mL of either Lallemand CBC-1 or Lalvin EC1118 yeast.


BROOKLYN BREWERY’S BLACK OPS CLONE

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.091 FG = 1.018
IBU = 28 SRM = 43 ABV = 10.4%

INGREDIENTS
10 lbs. (4.54 kg) pale liquid malt 
extract
1.25 lbs. (0.57 kg) British crystal 
malt (77 °L)
0.5 lbs. (0.23 g) black malt
0.5 lbs. (0.23 g) British chocolate 
malt
0.25 lbs. (113 g) roasted barley
1 lb. (0.45 kg) demerara sugar
12 tsp. yeast nutrient (10 min.)
8 AAU Summit hops (60 min.) 
(0.5 oz./14 g at 16% alpha acid)
1.5 oz. (43 g) East Kent Golding 
hops (0 min.)
Wyeast 1968 (London ESB), White 
Labs WLP002 (English Ale), or Lallemand London ESB Ale yeast
78 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 5.4 gallons (20.4 L) of water to 162 °F (72 °C) and steep grains for 15 minutes, then remove bag and allow to drain into the wort. Add the liquid extract, and demerara sugar while stirring, and stir until dissolved. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and yeast nutrients according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired. Follow the remainder of the all-grain recipe.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver provided the brewery’s ingredientsand process for this recipe, but some adjustments may be necessary. Brooklyn step mashes this beer, but a standard mash should have similar results. The other major deviation will be in the oak aging step. This may be a good time to invest in a 5-gallon (19-L) Bourbon cask or do a group brew with a larger barrel. If you go the oak chips/cubes route, I’d recommend aging in a plastic fermentation bucket. One flavor-developer in barrel-aged beers is the slow micro-oxidation of the beer. Most plastic buckets are oxygen-permeable and might create a more authentic beer.

TWO RIVERS BREWING CO.’S ESOTERIK CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.099 FG = 1.024
IBU = 49 SRM = 71 ABV = 10.8%

INGREDIENTS
15.5 lbs. (7 kg) Muntons Propino 
pale malt (pale 2-row)
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) roasted barley
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Special B malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Caramunich® III 
malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) pale chocolate malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) D2 candi syrup
13 AAU Nugget hops (60 min.) 
(1 oz./28 g at 13% alpha acid)
2 oz. (57 g) East Kent Goldings hops 
(0 min.)
White Labs WLP095 (Burlington 
Ale), GigaYeast GY054 (Vermont Ale), or Imperial A04 (Barbarian) yeast
34 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Mill the grains, then mix with 
24.4 quarts (23.1 L) of 167 °F (75 °C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of ١٥4 °F (68 °C). Hold this temperature for 60 minutes. Vorlauf until your runnings are clear, and sparge the grains with enough water to obtain 6.5 gallons (24.6 L) of wort. Remove kettle from heat and stir in Belgian candi syrup until dissolved. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C), for the first two days, then free rise to 70 °F (21 °C) and hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.4 volumes.

 

TWO RIVERS BREWING CO.’S ESOTERIK CLONE

(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)
OG = 1.099 FG = 1.024
IBU = 49 SRM = 71 ABV = 10.8%

INGREDIENTS
10.75 lbs. (4.9 kg) Maris Otter liquid 
malt extract
1.5 lbs. (0.68 kg) roasted barley
1 lb. (0.45 kg) Special B malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Caramunich® III 
malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) pale chocolate malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) D2 candi syrup
13 AAU Nugget hops (60 min.) 
(1 oz./28 g at 13% alpha acid)
2 oz. (57 g) East Kent Goldings hops 
(0 min.)
White Labs WLP095 (Burlington 
Ale), GigaYeast GY054 (Vermont Ale), or Imperial A04 (Barbarian) yeast
34 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 5.4 gallons (20.4 L) of water to approximately 162
°F (72 °C) and hold there. Steep grains for 20 minutes, then remove bag and allow to drain into the wort. Add liquid extract and Belgian candi syrup while stirring, and stir until completely dissolved. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C), for the first two days, then free rise to 70 °F (21 °C) and hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.4 volumes.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
Esoterik is a commemorative beer named in honor of Mr. Anthony Marraccini, who has contributed 
extensively to the work of the Arts Community of Easton, Pennsylvania – and it’s quite a tribute.

The dark fruit really pops in this recipe, but only if you hold the alcohol in check. Head Brewer Josh Bushey recommends pitching more healthy yeast than you think you’ll need (and incidentally, if you can’t source the Vermont IPA strain from the various yeast providers, any alcohol-tolerant and mildly estery yeast will work, such as Mangrove Jack’s M36 (Liberty Bell Ale)). The relatively high mash temperature will add body, but the candi syrup will balance against that, leaving behind a beer that’s intensely flavorful and full, but still quite drinkable!

NORTH COAST BREWING CO.’S OLD RASPUTIN CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.090 FG = 1.022
IBU = 85 SRM = 39 ABV = 9.8%

INGREDIENTS
15.5 lbs. (7 kg) Maris Otter pale ale malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) British light crystal 
malt (35 °L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 g) brown malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 g) chocolate malt
0.25 lb. (113 g) roasted barley
22.75 AAU Nugget hops (60 min.) 
(1.75 oz./50 g at 13% alpha acid)
1 oz. (28 g) Northern Brewer hop 
(0 min.)
1 oz. (28 g) Centennial hops (0 min.)
Wyeast 1007 (German Ale), White Labs WLP036 (Düsseldorf Alt), or SafAle K-97 yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Mill the grains, then mix with 
23.5 quarts (22.2 L) of 165 °F (74 °C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of ١٥2 °F (67 °C). Hold this temperature for 60 minutes. Vorlauf until your runnings are clear, and lauter. Sparge the grains with enough water to obtain 6.5 gallons (24.6 L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 63 °F (17 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 64 °F (18 °C), for the first seven days, then free rise to 70 °F (21 °C) and hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

NORTH COAST BREWING CO.’S OLD RASPUTIN CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)

OG = 1.090 FG = 1.022

IBU = 85 SRM = 39 ABV = 9.8%

INGREDIENTS
10.6 lbs. (4.8 kg) Maris Otter liquid 
malt extract
1 lb. (0.45 kg) British light crystal 
malt (35 °L)
1 lb. (0.45 kg) crystal malt (120 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 g) brown malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 g) chocolate malt
0.25 lb. (113 g) roasted barley
22.75 AAU Nugget hops (60 min.) (1.75 oz./50 g at 13% alpha acid)
1 oz. (28 g) Northern Brewer hops 
(0 min.)
1 oz. (28 g) Centennial hops (0 min.)
Wyeast 1007 (German Ale), White 
Labs WLP036 (Düsseldorf Alt), or SafAle K-97 yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 5.4 gallons (20.4 L) of water to approximately 162 °F (72 °C) and hold there. Steep grains for 15 minutes, then remove bag and allow to drain into the wort. Add liquid extract while stirring, and stir until completely dissolved. Boil for

60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 63 °F (17 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 64 °F (18 °C), for the first seven days, then free rise to 70 °F (21 °C) and hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
The theme here is “less is more.” Rather than going heavy on the chocolate malts, this recipe spreads the wealth and includes healthy additions of light crystal, dark crystal, brown malt, and then drops in an appropriate amount of roast and coffee flavor. It increases its intense, flinty impression through a fairly aggressive bittering regimen, which is then softened a bit by complex herbal and earthy aromas and flavors from the late hop additions. Earlier versions were actually a little too “soft,” so if you have particularly soft water it may not be a bad adjustment to harden it up a bit with some gypsum in the mash. The fermentation temperature starts and stays low through the bulk of the fermentation process, which might entail a slightly longer wait to ensure that the beer is fully attenuated – wait at least a week after all visible signs of fermentation have ended before packaging.

ROUND GUYS BREWING CO.’S THE RUSSIAN MESSENGER CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.095 FG = 1.024
IBU = 71 SRM = 52 ABV = 10.3%

INGREDIENTS
13.5 lbs. (6.1 kg) Pilsner malt
3 lbs. (1.4 kg) Munich malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) pale chocolate malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) brown malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) roasted barley 
(500 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) crystal malt 
(120 °L)
12.75 AAU Apollo hops (60 min.) 
(0.75 oz./21 g at 17% alpha acid)
8.4 AAU Bravo hops (30 min.) 
(0.6 oz./17 g at 14% alpha acid)
0.6 oz. (17 g) Columbus hops 
(0 min.)
Safale US-05, White Labs 
WLP001 (California Ale), or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Mill the grains, then mix with 
6.25 gallons (23.7 L) of 163 °F 3 °C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of ١٥0 °F (66 °C). Hold this temperature for 60 minutes.

Vorlauf until your runnings are clear, and then begin sparge. Sparge the grains with enough water to obtain 6.5 gallons (24.6 L) of wort. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 63 °F (17 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 64 °F (17 °C), raising by one degree Fahrenheit (0.5 °C)

per day to reach 70 °F (21 °C), then hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

 

ROUND GUYS BREWING CO.’S THE RUSSIAN MESSENGER CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, extract with grains)

OG = 1.095 FG = 1.024
IBU = 71 SRM = 52 ABV = 10.3%

INGREDIENTS
8 lbs. (3.6 kg) Pilsen liquid malt 
extract
3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg) Munich liquid malt 
extract
1 lb. (0.45 kg) pale chocolate malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) brown malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) roasted barley (500 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) crystal malt 
(120 °L)
12.75 AAU Apollo hops (60 min.) 
(0.75 oz./21 g at 17% alpha acid)
8.4 AAU Bravo hops (30 min.) 
(0.6 oz./17 g at 14% alpha acid)
0.6 oz. (17 g) Columbus hops 
(0 min.)
Safale US-05, White Labs 
WLP001 (California Ale), or Wyeast 1056 (American Ale) yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 5.4 gallons (20.4 L) of water to approximately 162 °F (72 °C) and hold there. Steep grains for 15 minutes, then remove bag and allow to drain into the wort. Add liquid malt extract while stirring, and stir until completely dissolved. Boil for 60 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list and Irish moss if desired.

After the boil, chill the wort to slightly below fermentation temperature, about 63 °F (17 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast.

Ferment at 64 °F (17 °C), raising by one degree Fahrenheit (0.5 °C) per day to reach 70 °F (21 °C), then hold there until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
Round Guys owner Scott Rudich takes a distinctly (and refreshingly) European approach to this beer, and the Pilsner and Munich malts that form the bulk of the grist lay down a great bready base for the rich brown malt and raisiny crystal to follow. Earlier versions ran as high as 10.6% ABV, but Scott reeled in the recipe a bit, and in this case less really is more. The cool fermentation — with its slow walk up — helps ensure a complete fermentation with few off-flavors and the gentle but noticeable warming we expect from an imperial stout.

 

SPEAKEASY ALES & LAGERS’ SCARFACE IMPERIAL STOUT CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.087 FG = 1.022
IBU = 50 SRM = 36 ABV = 9.3%

INGREDIENTS
14 lbs. (6.4 kg) 2-row pale malt
2 lbs. (0.91 kg) Carahell® malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) flaked oats
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Simpsons dark 
crystal malt (75 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Patagonia Perla 
Negra (340 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
13.6 AAU Columbus hops (90 min.) 
(0.85 oz./24 g at 16% alpha acid)
0.5 oz. (14 g) Magnum hops (0 min.)
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), 
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), or Safale US-05
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Mill the grains, then mix with 
5.8 gallons (21.9 L) of 165 °F  4 °C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of ١٥٢ °F (٦٧ °C). Hold this temperature for ٦٠ minutes. Vorlauf until your runnings are clear, and sparge the grains with enough water to obtain 7 gallons (25.6 L) of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list.

After the boil, chill the wort to about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast. Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C) for seven days, then free rise to 72 °F (22 °C) until the completion of primary fermentation. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

 

SPEAKEASY ALES & LAGERS’ SCARFACE IMPERIAL STOUT CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, partial mash)
OG = 1.087 FG = 1.022
IBU = 50 SRM = 36 ABV = 9.3%

INGREDIENTS
8 lbs. (3.6 kg) pale liquid malt 
extract
2 lbs. (0.91 kg) 2-row pale malt
2 lbs. (0.91 kg) Carahell® malt
1 lb. (0.45 kg) flaked oats
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Simpsons dark 
crystal malt (75 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Patagonia Perla 
Negra (340 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
13.6 AAU Columbus hops (90 min.) 
(0.85 oz./24 g at 16% alpha acid)
0.5 oz. (14 g) Magnum hops (0 min.)
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), 
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), or Safale US-05
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 8 quarts (7.6 L) of water to approximately 165 °F (74 °C). Place crushed 2-row malt, Carahell® and flaked oats in a large grain bag. Submerge in water, stirring the grains to make sure there are no dry clumps. Steep grains for 45 minutes, trying to maintain the temperature at 152 °F (67 °C). Place the crushed crystal and dark roasted malts in a second grain bag, submerge in the mash. Wait an additional 15 minutes, then remove both bags and place in a colander over the kettle. Slowly wash the grains with 2 gallons (7.6 L) hot water. Add liquid malt extract and stir until completely dissolved. Top up to 7 gallons (26.5 L) and boil for 90 minutes, adding hops according to the ingredient list.

After the boil, chill the wort to about 65 °F (18 °C). Aerate the wort with pure oxygen or filtered air and pitch yeast. Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C) for seven days, then free rise to 72 °F (22 °C) until fermentation is complete. Reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C), then bottle or keg the beer and carbonate to approximately 2.25 volumes.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
Brewer Clay Jordan notes that this beer mashes at a slightly lower temperature to help ensure there aren’t a lot of long-chain sugars in the wort. To ensure proper conversion, it may be necessary to add a few more minutes to the mash (say, lengthening to 70 minutes), especially if your strike water comes in a little low and you start in the 148–150 °F range (65–66 °C). A slightly longer mash won’t hurt, as the only real side effect would be a slightly more-fermentable wort, which is exactly what we want.

In that same vein, Clay recommends you “pitch liberally” to help promote a clean, healthy and complete fermentation.

SMOG CITY BREWING CO.’S THE NOTHING CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, all-grain)
OG = 1.087 FG = 1.022
IBU = 84 SRM = 50 ABV = 9.3%

INGREDIENTS
6.5 lbs. (3 kg) Maris Otter pale ale 
malt
6 lbs. (2.7 kg) Rahr 2-row pale malt
2 lbs. (0.9 kg) flaked oats
1 lb. (0.45 kg) flaked barley
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate wheat 
malt (375 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) medium crystal 
malt (60 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Crisp crystal malt 
(120 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) pale chocolate malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
0.25 lb. (113 g) Carafa® Special III 
malt
0.25 lb. (113 g) dark brown sugar 
(90 min.)
22.5 AAU Summit hops (90 min.) 
(1.25 oz./35 g at 18% alpha acids)
0.7 oz. (20g) TCHO Ecuador cocoa 
nibs (crushed)
0.7 oz. (20g) TCHO Ghana cocoa 
nibs (crushed)
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), 
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), or Safale US-05 yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Mill the grains, then mix with 5.7 gallons (21.6 L) of 165
°F (٧4 °C) strike water to reach a mash temperature of ١٥٢ °F (٦٧ °C). Hold this temperature for ٦٠ minutes. Vorlauf until your runnings are clear, and sparge with enough water to obtain 7 gallons (26.5 L) of wort. Boil for 90 minutes, adding hops and sugar according to the ingredient list.

Chill, aerate, and pitch yeast. Ferment at 66 °F (19 °C) for seven days, then free rise to 72 °F (22 °C)

until fermentation is complete. Add the crushed cocoa nibs to a neutral spirit such as vodka and let soak for 1 week or more. Once the beer completes fermentation, reduce temperature to 32 °F (0 °C) and add the cocoa nibs with spirits, resting for 10-14 days. Bottle or keg and carbonate to ~2.25 volumes.

 

SMOG CITY BREWING CO.’S THE NOTHING CLONE
(5 gallons/19 L, partial mash)
OG = 1.087 FG = 1.022
IBU = 84 SRM = 50 ABV = 9.3%

INGREDIENTS
6.6 lbs. (3 kg) Maris Otter liquid 
malt extract
3 lbs. (1.4 kg) Rahr 2-row pale malt
2 lbs. (0.9 kg) flaked oats
1 lb. (0.45 kg) flaked barley
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) chocolate wheat 
malt (375 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) medium crystal 
malt (60 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) Crisp crystal malt 
(120 °L)
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) pale chocolate malt
0.5 lb. (0.23 kg) roasted barley
0.25 lb. (113 g) Carafa® Special III 
malt
0.25 lb. (113 g) dark brown sugar 
(90 min.)
22.5 AAU Summit hops (90 min.) 
(1.25 oz./35 g at 18% alpha acids)
0.7 oz. (20g) TCHO Ecuador cocoa 
nibs (crushed)
0.7 oz. (20g) TCHO Ghana cocoa 
nibs (crushed)
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale), 
White Labs WLP001 (California Ale), or Safale US-05 yeast
23 cup corn sugar (if priming)

STEP BY STEP
Bring 11 quarts (10.4 L) of water to 165 °F (74 °C). Place crushed 2-row malt, flaked oats and barley in a large grain bag. Submerge in water, stirring the grains to make sure there are no dry clumps. Steep for 45 minutes at 152 °F (67 °C). Place the crushed crystal and dark roasted malts in a second grain bag and submerge in the mash for 15 minutes. Remove both bags and wash grains with 2 gallons (8 L) hot water, which is added to the kettle. Add malt extract and stir until dissolved. Top up to 7 gallons (26.5 L) and boil for 90 minutes. Follow the remainder of the all-grain recipe.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
Head Brewmaster Jonathan Porter says the first time they brewed The Nothing it took 11 hours to lauter! Now, they mash in all of the base malt first, then add the dark and specialty malts on top of the grain bed. If you’re concerned about a stuck lauter or sparge you can take this approach and/or add a pound of rice hulls to ease the process.