Batch #5-13: Crankcase Stout

Style Crankcase Stout
Ingredients View Here
Brewing Date: Wed: Dec 11, 2013
Primary Fermentation: Wed: Dec 11, 2013
Original Gravity: 1.048
Secondary Fermentation: Tentative: Sat: Dec 14, 2013
Interim Gravity: 1.032
Bottling Date: Sat: Jan 4, 2014
Final Gravity: 1.030
Release Date: Fri: Jan 31, 2014
Alcohol by volume: 2.4% ABV Raw (2.9% Final)
Final Release Name: Crude Awakenings

This style of stout will be a first time for me.

The commercial equivalent of this beer is Mackeson XXX from Great Britain. This beer is super dark, has a noticeable, but not overpowering aroma of licorice and coffee, and is to dark beers what espresso is to coffee. It is not for the faint of heart. But if you like dark beers, this is the ultimate.  We’ll see how it compares to the Mackeson XXX itself.

This is an unusual brew for me.  Normally, when secondary fermentation is called for, partial mash is left to ferment completely in the primary fermentation, and then transferred to secondary (Pumpkin Ale is an example of this).  The secondary process has some fermentation going on, but it is mostly to let the beer clear itself more of sediment and allow the flavors to interact prior to bottling or kegging.  This recipe requires a transfer to secondary after only 48-72 hours, so I am not sure if the primary fermentation is expected to be very fast or it is transferred while the yeast is till highly active.  We’ll see.


17 Nov :: bought the ingredients from South Hills Brewing Supply, my new local source.  Since the Pumpkin Ale was brewed first, the grains and hops are in my fridge awaiting the brewing date.

9 Dec :: Yeast starter created.

10 Dec :: I am using Nottingham Yeast from a packet for this yeast starter, and this yeast is aggressive!  The flask, when swirled, almost wants to blow the foam through the airlock. It’s settled down a bit now, and unfortunately, I’ve had to delay my brewing until tomorrow.  I plan on just adding some more food (heated corn sugar in water, then quickly cooled) to give the yeast a jump start in the morning.

11 Dec :: The yeast got its sugar in the morning, and boy was it a jump start.  By 6PM, it was as active as on the 10th. Began the brew cycle at 6PM, with the 3 gallons of water in the freezer.  This is a non-Heart’s recipe, so the first thing I realized is that there were no heating and sparge temperatures or water volumes.  So knowing this was a form of a stout/porter, I elected to heat the grains at 150 for an hour.  The technique in the original recipe called for steeping the grains in a nylon/muslin bag, which I have used before, but I find the sugar extraction works a bit better when soaked and then sparged.  I sparged the grains with 170 degree water.

Brewing went very smoothly.  I made one substitution on the original ingredient list: two ounces of chopped licorice root instead of the 1/2 brewer’s licorice stick.  The wort is indeed dark in this batch.  By the time I pitched the yeast, it was more active than when I started a few hours earlier.  The original gravity was only 1.038, which surprised me.  I was expecting over 1.040.

14 Dec :: I transferred the wort to secondary, but the interim gravity only measured 1.032.  Odd, considering the yeast was going full force in the fermentation bucket for the first 48 hours it was in there, and still showed signs of activity when I transferred it.

03 Jan 14 :: Bottled today.  Yield was 7x 64oz growlers and 15x 12oz bottles.  The wort has an incredibly good aroma, and the licorice and coffee aroma is dominant.  The final gravity was still a bit high at bottling, but I realized from a note I made that my initial gravity reading after brewing was wrong.  It should have been 1.048.  So that will put the final ABV at 2.9%.  Not a lot of alcohol, but that’s the way I actually prefer the beer I make.  I’m optimistic this will be a good batch when conditioning is complete.