ISO: Whalez Bro! 2016

dsc_1212This beer was brewed on 05/14/16.  Time for the 2016 vintage of ISO: Whalez Bro! my bourbon and wood aged imperial stout.  My plan with this beer is to keep the base beer similar and change the various flavorings each year to play with some new ingredients.  This year’s recipe was a three gallon batch.  The reasoning is to keep costs down, and honestly I don’t need 5 gallons of a 450 calorie per 12 oz beer sitting around.

There were some tweaks to last year’s base stout recipe to give it some added depth of flavor.  I added some Munich malt to give the base flavor a bit of added malt complexity rather than straight 2 Row.  I upped the amount of crystal and carapils for some additional flavor complexity and body.  I also added some White Wheat to that end as well.  To be honest, I added the Midnight Wheat and a couple ounces of the British roasted barely because I had them around and wanted to get rid of them.

As much as I typically like to keep my beers all grain, I did use a few pounds of DME here.  The reason for this is just to combat low efficiency without having to sparge more and then increase my boil by a substantial amount of time.  If I hadn’t been brewing another batch on this same day, that wouldn’t have been a concern, but I didn’t feel like adding an extra hour or so to the boil, so extract it was!

Last years batch of this beer used cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.  I then aged the beer a week on oak chips that had soaked in Elijah Craig 12 year bourbon.  I went a different route this year in several ways.  The flavor adjuncts in this year’s batch are coffee and maple.  I LOVED the results of my beer Wake Up Aurora, and while this isn’t just a bigger version of that beer, I know those flavors will work together here nicely.  As with Wake Up Aurora, I’m using Frontier brand all natural maple extract.  The maple flavor in Wake Up Aurora was great, not at all artificial.  I’m going with the half bottle that I had left from that batch, so about an oz of the extract.  I used 3oz in Wake Up Aurora, and the maple was a touch strong.  While this beer is bigger and more complex, an ounce should suite my needs here just fine since the batch size was cut in half from my usual.  I elaborated on not using real maple in my post for Wake Up Aurora, and my thoughts on that apply here as well.  Go for it if you want, but the Frontier extract works beautifully in a stout with none of the hassle and a fraction of the cost as actual maple syrup.  Really the only reason to use actual maple here is just so you can say you did.  In my last coffee beer I used Giant Steps coffee by Dark Matter and I loved the results.  Here, with a beer this big, I thought espresso would be a fun way to go.  Dark Matter’s Unicorn Blood should fit this beer well with its notes of milk chocolate and nuttiness..

I also switched up my method of mimicking the barrel aging process.  I went with medium toast Hungarian oak cubes.  After doing some research, cubes seem to be a vast improvement over chips in depth of character added as well as the speed in which the oak is imparted to the beer.  Chips impart oak flavor fast and strong, and the complexity just isn’t there, while oak cubes impart a more well rounded character at a lessened pace.  I first boiled one ounce of oak cubes for about 10 minutes to extract some of the raw wood and tannin flavor.  Once dried, I held the cubes over my burner to char them.  The interior of bourbon barrels are charred, so I’m hoping that this will help replicate the flavor that imparts.  The chips were then soaked in about 8 oz of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon for a little over two weeks.  The bourbon and oak cubes were then added to the beer at around the two week mark where they will remain for a week until I bottle.  I’m excited to see the results of my new oaking process, I have high hopes compared to the results from last years attempt.  The oak and bourbon in last year’d beer was good, it just wasn’t the same as barrel aging it, and i hope this will better replicate that.


The brew day for this went very smoothly.  I brewed it side by side with my Munich Helles, Haifisch.  I mashed at 158 for an hour, sparged and brought the beer to a boil.  I added my DME at the start of the boil since I didn’t care about darkening of the wort as I may if I was adding it to a light beer.  The beer was boiled for 60 minutes, immediately cooled, and then poured into the fermentor.


Enjoyed a 2012 Three Floyds Dark Lord while brewing my own beast of a stout!


My hydrometer sample came right on the dot, 1.126.  I took my FG reading just prior to adding the bourbon to the beer, coming in at 1.037.  This should give me a pre bourbon abv of 11.68%!  The FG sample tasted great already, surprisingly little heat.  With the bourbon, I should be right around 12% or even a bit higher.  I’ll bottle after the week on the cubes, and I’ll post back here in a couple months after trying some new and with a bit of age.  I’ll then update the tasting notes in the winter with how the beer has age with some extended time.

Here’s the water and recipe:

Ca+2                 Mg+2                     Na+              Cl-              SO4-2           HCO
99.1                   4.4                         33.4             112.5          71.6             124.016

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.126 SG
Estimated Color: 51.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 95.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 39.2 %
1 lbs Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 7.8 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 3 7.8 %
12.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4 5.9 %
8.0 oz White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 5 3.9 %
5.0 oz Carafa Special III (Weyermann) (470.0 SR Grain 6 2.4 %
4.0 oz Chocolate (Dingemans) (340.0 SRM) Grain 7 2.0 %
4.0 oz Midnight Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 8 2.0 %
4.0 oz Roasted Barley (Briess) (300.0 SRM) Grain 9 2.0 %
2.0 oz Roasted Barley (Simpsons) (550.0 SRM) Grain 10 1.0 %
3 lbs DME Golden Light (Briess) (4.0 SRM) Dry Extract 11 23.5 %
5.0 oz Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 12 2.4 %

1.00 oz Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 13 54.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 14 41.5 IBUs

1.1 pkg London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124. Yeast 15 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 12 lbs 12.0 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 11.80 qt of water at 170.5 F 158.0 F 60 min

Tasting Notes 11/21/16:  Before I begin the tasting notes, let me just say that this beer, while delicious, has been the bane of my existence.  This beer would just not carbonate.  I’m sure its because of the strength since the bourbon boosted this beer to around 12.5% abv.  I gave the beer plenty of time and it was flat.  The I thought maybe I forgot to prime it, though I doubted it.  I added a bit more sugar to each bottle…..and nothing.  I then added a bit of yeast to each bottle…..nothing.  So either its the high ABV or there was something in the maple extract even though its supposed to be all natural.  So I VERY carefully poured each bottle into a keg and am now serving it on tap.  Even then its a pain in the ass because the out post in my keg leaks a bit every time I take a pour.  I’d have guessed its a o-ring, but it looked fine.  Oh well.

Appearance:  Jet black like a good stout should be.  The beer pours with a nice tan head that fades pretty quickly to the edge of the glass.  No light it getting through this thing, its like staring into a tasty abyss.

Smell:  This beer has a lovely aroma that’s balanced between the numerous ingredients without any of them overpowering.  The maple is probably most evident, though it doesn’t dominate the other aromas.  There’s strong notes of coffee and dark chocolate.  Blended with the other flavors is a nice blend of charred oak, vanilla, and bourbon.  Its a beautifully complex aroma.

Taste:  A blend of maple and dark chocolate are the first things that hit your tongue.  Then there’s a bit of roast and a hint of earthiness from the Dark Matter Coffee.  The finish is sweet, with flavors of oak, vanilla, bourbon, and caramelized sugars.  This is truly a decadent beer that needs to be taken slow and savored.  The flavors in this are bold, but balanced.  When the beer was first poured cold, the maple and dark chocolate were the prominent flavors.  As the beer warmed I found the oak and bourbon became more evident, though the maple and dark chocolate were still there.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is thick and silky smooth.  It’s definitely heavy  bodied with light-medium carbonation.  The body of this beer is exactly what you’d want in a stout like this: thick and chewy so that you take your time drinking it and enjoying the complex blend of flavors.

Overall:  This is probably one of the best beers I’ve made, and certainly one of the most complex.  The extra time it took for me to try to carbonate this beer really gave the flavors time to blend together and strike a wonderful balance.  If there was one flaw, I’d say that the beer finished a bit too sweet.  Since the yeast never ate the sugar that would have carbonated it in the bottle it wound up a bit sweeter than it should be.  Still,l its not cloying and it balances the bitter roast and dark chocolate.  I’m truly thrilled with this beer, and now that winter is around the corner this beer will be perfect in the chilly nights to come.

2 thoughts on “ISO: Whalez Bro! 2016

  1. Pingback: ISO: Whalez Bro! Tasting Notes! | White Pointer Brewery

  2. Pingback: My 2016 Homebrewing Year in Review | White Pointer Brewery

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