11 Oct 2010 @ 7:58 AM 

Iron Brewer, Round 5: Recipe Post


Hooray! I was one of the lucky brewers that was able to respond quickly enough to gain entry into Round 5 of Iron Brewer. The point of Iron Brewer, in case you’re too lazy to click on the link, is that – just like Iron Chef – you are given an ingredient or ingredients that you are required to use in the recipe.

For this round, the ingredients are:

Fruit (in whatever form)
Medium Toasted Oak
Saaz Hops

This is a complex challenge.

Fruit is easy. I’ve made a lot of fruit beer, and I’ve got some good ideas of what works and how much works, so fruit – to me – is just a matter of finding flavors that I want to blend together. My only concern is that any good fruit flavor will pretty much obliterate the Saaz hops in the recipe, and if you use enough Saaz to taste the hop flavor you’re going to intrude on the fruit. That’s a tough balance.

The most difficult part of it, I think, is the oak. Oak can be both delicate and overpowering. It seems like an oxymoron, but there’s a lot of nice subtle flavor in oak, but too much or too young and all you really taste is wood. Oak requires a lot of time in aging to really mellow out the flavor and time isn’t really available in this case, since this beer is being tasted in the beginning of December. I decided to make up for this by making a really high gravity beer. Why? Because there’s so much other flavor and strength that the rest of the flavor will be able to stand up against the oak when it hasn’t completely mellowed out.

My first thought was to make an Imperial Pilsener – just 100% pilsener malt and let the rest of the ingredients define the beer. A friend suggested making a brown ale to go with fruit and then inspiration truly struck. An Imperial Pils? What was I thinking? The beer would totally get carried away in the ingredients! You need something that will be able to stand up against the combination, not just something that the ingredients will stand out in. This contest is supposed to be about making the best beer. By god, let’s make some beer.

After some deliberation, I settled on an Imperial Black Ale, with tart cherries.

A big black beer, I think, will stand up to the power of oak and promote the subtle vanilla flavors. The cherries will (hopefully) tone down the toastiness and blend together with the chocolate/espresso flavors as well as the oak. The Saaz hops? Well, there’s a ton – not enough to make a bitter beer – not with such a low alpha acid hop – but hopefully the earthy/grassy flavors show up in complement.

Without further ado:

“Black Forest” Imperial Black Ale w/ Cherries & Oak
(scaled up from a 3 gallon batch)
Target OG: 1.138 (Actual when I brewed it: 1.143 after temperature correction)
Estimated IBU: 40 – Estimated ABV: 13%

15 lbs. Marris Otter (62%)
3.3 lbs. Munich Malt (14%)
1.67 lbs Chocolate Malt (7%)
.75 lbs Black Patent Malt (3%)
.75 lbs Franco Belges Caramel Munich 60L (3%)
.75 lbs Torrified Wheat (3%)
1.67 lbs of Dark Brown Sugar (added during boil w/5 mins to go)

Mash at 150F for 75mins.
Mash Out/Sparge at 170F.


1.75 oz Saaz at 120 mins
1.75 oz Saaz at 60 mins
1.75 oz Saaz at 20 mins
1.75 oz Saaz at 5 mins

A BIG ol’ starter of Edinburgh Ale Yeast (WLP #028).

Aging in secondary on 3.3 lbs of unadulterated dried tart cherries & 5 oz. of French Oak Cubes, Medium Toast.

Tags Tags: ,
Categories: homebrew
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 11 Oct 2010 @ 04 37 PM


Responses to this post » (3 Total)

  1. ingrate says:

    Holy crap that sounds delicious. Hide some bottles. I have a couple treats stashed away for the next time we meet.

  2. Celeste says:

    Sounds wonderful! I was looking at the user click stats for our website and found your blog post. I love to see the creative and tasty ways our cherries are used. I hope you liked the results. Cheers.

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