Homebrew #22: Hopefully Great Kate

I've had pretty good luck with the imperials stout I've brewed. The style is perfect for aging, and I love to see how they evolve over time. One of my favorites is Stone's 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I brewed it three years ago and it still tastes amazing today! It's become more smooth over time and is a big hit with everyone that tastes it. Since my stash of this beer is dwindling (yes, I still have some), I decided it was time to brew another imperial stout.

Two years ago, I visited Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire. Tod Mott, their former head brewer, created Kate the Great, an imperial stout that was brewed once a year. Beer Advocate named it the best beer in America and the Kate the Great attracted a HUGE following. Although I never tasted this beer, I decided to brew it.

The original recipe from Tod Mott is widely available on many homebrew sites and message boards. It uses 11 different malts! I made a few tweaks to accommodate the hops and yeast I had on hand. The recipe I brewed is shown below. Although I brewed a 3 gallon BIAB (brew in a bag) batch, I've scaled up the recipe to 5 gallons. If you want to give it a try, be sure to modify to reflect the efficiency and other nuances of your system.

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 6.05 gal
Post Boil Volume: 5.30 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 4.80 gal
Estimated OG: 1.128 SG
Estimated Color: 54.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 82.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 76.5 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

18 lbs 9.7 oz (77.3%),  Pale Malt (2 Row)         
13.5 oz (3.5%),  Barley, Flaked         
13.5 oz (3.5%),  Wheat Malt          
13.1 oz (3.4%),  Special B Malt
11.2 oz (2.9%),  Carafa III        
9.7 oz (2.5%),  Aromatic Malt         
7.7 oz (2.0%),  Caramel/Crystal Malt - 45L        
7.5 oz (1.9%),  Roasted Barley         
3.7 oz (1.0%),  Black (Patent) Malt
3.7 oz (1.0%),  Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L         
3.7 oz (1.0%),  Chocolate Malt         

1.27 oz,  Magnum [14.90 %] - Boil 75.0 min  
0.88 oz,  Styrian Goldings [5.50 %] - Boil 75.0 min     
0.71 oz,  Fuggles [4.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min    
0.53 oz,  Centennial [11.60 %] - Boil 20.0 min      
0.53 oz,  Centennial [11.60 %] - Boil 15.0 min     
0.83 oz, Fuggles [5.60 %] - Steep/Whirlpool
0.33 oz, Warrior [13.70 %] - Steep/Whirlpool  
California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)           

Mash Schedule:
Saccharification: 149° F, for 60 min

Here are PDF files of the recipe in 3 gallons and 5 gallons.      

Brew Log:

Nov 16, 2014:  Brew day.  Even though I'm brewing just three gallons using BIAB, a lot of grain is needed for this beer--14.5 pounds, to be precise. Since I can't fit all of it and the water in my pot, I decided to mash in my 10 gallon cooler. I actually had planned to mash at 152°, but unintentionally ended up mashing at 149° F, the recommended temp. My mash tun was cold, and I didn't pre-heat it. So I expect that explains the difference. In the end, it worked out as it should have. Overall, the brew session went well. My post boil OG came in at 1.107 vs. the target of 1.128, so I was pretty happy about that. I racked this onto a yeast cake of the last beer I made (using WLP001) at 5:30pm. About 70 minutes later, I had airlock activity! That's a quick start to fermentation. This is a big beer, so I highly recommend a yeast starter or racking onto a yeast cake, if possible.

Nov 18:  Fermentation has really kicked into high gear in the past few days! Since I just have three gallons, I didn't need a blowoff tube for my carboy.

Nov 24:  Airlock activity has slowed dramatically. 

Dec 28:  I decided to pull a sample from the carboy. Full bodied with flavors of coffee, vanilla, and some alcohol heat. Very nice! Gravity of 1.019.

Jun 21, 2015:  Decided it's time to bottle. Gravity has leveled off at 1.018. According my Beer Smith, that makes this an 11.9% beer! Primed with 0.375 cup of sucrose and rehydrated BR-97 (American West Coast Yeast). Final yield = 22 x 12 oz. bottles.

Jul 11:  First carbonated taste.  Well, it really didn't carbonate fully. I heard a hiss when I opened the bottle, but as you can see from the picture, there wasn't much carbonation. I stored it in a fairly cool place for the last few weeks.  I'll move it to a warmer location to help speed the carbonation process. Aroma and taste of coffee and chocolate. Vanilla, roast, and some moderate alcohol heat also come through in the taste. It's full bodied and has a sweet finish. It's a bit difficult to drink without the carbonation, but a great start overall. Hopefully Kate will taste better soon!

More updates coming...

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