Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pints: W00tstout Clone Kit

For christmas in 2014 I was given the Wil Wheaton W00tstout kit from Northern Brewer.  Its a big beer with a big ingredient list; loads of LME and DME, toasted pecans, cocoa powder, and aged on bourbon soaked oak cubes with a starting gravity of 1.108.  After reading about it I had to brew it; it just sounded so damn tasty.

The brew day was fairly uneventful.  The only real issue I had was that I used a steeping bag for the grain that was too small; I don’t think I got as much of the color out of it as I could have, and it ended a little lighter than I thought it would.  I made a starter for it to make sure I had enough yeast for a strong fermentation, and I made the full 5 gallons in one go, splitting it between my two fermentors.  I would later regret this a bit...4 gallons of 12-13% beer takes a long, long time to drink. 

After 3 months I hooked the keg up to gas, force carbed it, and had a taste.  It was...a little rough around the edges.  Very flavorful, and no hints of rubbing alcohol or other nastiness.  Almost syrupy, as there was a fair bit of residual sweetness in it.  For the rest of the year I would slowly drink it, and it gradually got better and better.  My tasting notes throughout that time are at the bottom.  In August I was able to taste the genuine article at the Flying Saucer in Nashville.  The clone I brewed was pretty close, but the real thing was a lot better.  The flavors just meshed better and were a lot richer.

Towards the end of the keg I bottled about a half gallon of it to age for longer.  I popped the first of these one year after it was brewed (Feb 2015).  Let's just say I look forward to the last two bottles.
An early shot of it.  The head lasted quite a long time.

A pour from the aged bottle.  I think its pretty.
1/28/2015:  made a starter.  2L of water, 8oz of LME.  Two packets of US05.  Should yield approximately 2x as many yeast cells as are needed for beer of this gravity.  Gravity of the starter is about 11brix.

1/31/2015:  brew day.  Made in one large batch.  Followed the recipe.  Didn't turn out very dark; looks more like an amber...  Split between the fermenters and split the starter.  Theoretically pitched about 200billion cells apiece.  Starting fermentation at 62°F.  Pitched at 4pm.

2/5/2015:  fermentation continues.  god damn does it taste bad right now.  Upped temperature set-point to 66F to keep fermentation going strong.

2/7/2015:  gravity is about 1.042.  Concerned about stalling.  Raised temp to room temperature.

2/24/2015:  gravity is steady in the low 1.02 range.  Its a little high, but it is an extract batch. Brix is really high, around 13.  Not fermenting any more.  Going to cold crash for several days in preparation for ageing in a keg.

3/5/2015:  started bourboning the oak cubes.  Used Jim Beam Black bourbon.

3/6/2015:  incidentally, the bourbon got better tasting after only a day on oak.  Will need to experiment with this.  Kegged the w00tstout into the 5 gallon keg and dumped the bourbon and oak cubes into a mesh sack so they can be retrieved easily.  The sample I took before kegging tasted pretty good.  Still green, but I think its going to be really good.  Might be a bit sweet though, I don't think it fully attenuated.

8/9/2015:  tasting.  Finally carbed up.  Took a long time and had to shake it.  Head falls after a few minutes.  Smells slightly boozy.  Maybe a touch of vanilla and roastiness.  Bit of dried fruit as well.  Looks like a porter, some light can get through.  A deep brown.  Thick mouthfeel, sweet.  Touch of bourbon and vanilla.  Gentle bitterness. Tastes rich, but not overly boozy.  Some spiciness on the tongue.  Very good for sipping.  Not as good as the real thing though.  Burns a bit on the way down.

8/11/2015:took off of gas and am moving to storage for a while.  Was starting to get good, wonder what a few months will do.  272oz consumed/bottled so far.

10/22/2015: put back on gas.  keg was still well pressurized (no leaks, yay).  Tastes better now.  Still too sweet, but the flavors are developing.

11/18/2015: 94oz consumed.

11/29/2015:  tasting.  Pruny dark fruit smell.  Very mellow, slight buttery impression.  Bit of flavor from the oak cubes.  Very good at this point.  The sweetness has balanced a bit.

12/16/2015: keg kicked.  Bottled 2 22oz bombers.  Served 534oz total

2/26/2016:  opened bottle that's been aged for one year.  Has taken a buttery flavor that many bourbon beers seems to have.  The sweetness has faded a little bit, or maybe it's blended better.  Some nuttiness is apparent as well.  Smoother, no weird flavors anymore.  Mouthfeel has thinned slightly as well.

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