Guthrie’s Woody Imperial Stout (Oak-Aged)

Guthrie’s Woody Imperial Stout (Oak Aged)

(5 gallons/19 L, Extract with grains)
OG = 1.088 FG = 1.028
IBU = 68 SRM = 100+ ABV = 7.9%

8 lbs. (3.63 kg) amber liquid malt extract
3 lbs. (1.36 kg) pale dried malt extract
0.75 lbs. (0.340 kg) Belgian Special B malt
0.75 lbs. (0.340 kg) chocolate malt
0.75 lbs. (0.340 kg) black malt
18.5 AAU Columbus pellet hops (1.5 oz./43 g at 12.3% alpha acids) (60 min.)
Nottingham Ale dry yeast
1.5 oz. (43 g) medium toasted French oak cubes

Step by Step
Put the grains in a muslin bag and steep in 2 qts. (2 L) of 150–160 °F (65–71 °C) water for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse the grains with an additional 2 qts (2 L) of hot water and transfer the liquid to a brewpot. Top up to 5 gallons (19 L) with water. Carefully dissolve the malt extracts and bring to a boil. Add hops and boil for 60 minutes.

Cool to 65–70 °F (18–21°C) and pitch the yeast, preferably having previously prepared it as a 2-qt. starter. When primary fermentation has finished rack the beer onto the oak cubes in a secondary fermenter if you wish. I prefer not to add the oak at this time, but to rack a second time after about five to six days and add the cubes then. This is because I want the beer to be as clear as possible during oaking; if there is a significant amount of yeast in the secondary it will merely coat the cubes and reduce the efficiency of extraction from the oak. At any rate leave the beer on the cubes for no more than two weeks before racking it and then bottling or kegging it in the usual way.

One other step I like to do with this beer is to very lightly rinse the cubes with bourbon whiskey before adding them to the beer in the secondary. This step helps to sanitize the cubes, and also adds just a hint of bourbon to the finished beer’s flavor — a taste that goes well with this kind of stout. Some brewers like to pre-treat the oak cubes with very hot water, but I don’t like to do that as you will remove a good deal of the oak flavors you want to get into the beer.

Issue: December 2012

Terry Foster utilizes bourbon barrel soaked oak cubes to create a complex and layered imperial stout.