Friday, January 28, 2011

Get the Party Started

While I've shared a bit of info about how I got started brewing and the fact that Michael and I are certifiably insane on brew day, I haven't really said much about what's cooking in the back room here.

And I'm very pleased to tell you that it's a Nut Brown Ale.

But it's not just any old nut brown. Oh, no. It's an Imperial Nut Brown.

Let the good times roll.

For those of you unfamilar with beer "code," Imperial (or Double) means BIG. Big in every way. Big ingredients list, big taste, big(ger) money to spend whether you brew it at home or buy it at the bar or store.

But more than anything else, Imperial is code for Big Alcohol. Big Alcohol makes for a Bad Ass beer that will knock you on yours, if you're not careful.

In case you're curious about how brewers start with one beer style and then take it up about 20 notches to make a Big Version of that style, it's because Imperial/Double recipes call for far more grain than their non-Imperial counterparts. In some cases, the recipes call for more hops too, but that's more about brewing a beer that'll make you pucker your beer-drinking lips than about greater alcohol. Hops don't affect alcohol content--they have other things to attend to.

Nope, it's all about the grains here--because with more grain you get more sugar. And with more sugar you get more yummy treats for your yeasty friends. Yeasty friends that will eventually give you alcohol and carbon dioxide in exchange for your sugary offering. Now there's a waste product you can get excited about!

Take for example, the difference between the alcohol content (also known as ABV, or alcohol by volume) in a Stout. You know, that really dark beer that looks like it could be mistaken for motor oil? Well, a "regular" Stout--Guinness is the best known example--is about 4-5% alcohol. Pretty low ABV. (Surprising eh?) In fact, it's about the same alcohol content as Bud Light.

Except Guinness is actually drinkable.

A quick aside: Dark, by the way, has nothing to do with alcohol content. Color is not an indicator of how drunk you could get when drinking it. That's a myth. Just sayin'.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, the Imperial version of a Stout? Anywhere between 8-12+% ABV. That's 2-3 times more alcohol than its non-Imperial cousin. And just to put this in perspective, at the higher end of that spectrum, we're getting into Merlot-like ABV territory here.

Another aside: An Imperial Stout I highly recommend is Storm King by Victory Brewing Company from Downingtown, PA. It's a brilliant beer. But be careful. At 9.1% ABV, this bad boy can sneak up on you but quick!

So, anyway, all this is to say, Michael and I have our own Imperial Bad Boy rockin' it in our back room. We brewed on Sunday and we still have active fermentation today (Friday.) That's pretty freaking awesome. Assuming fermentation finishes up in time, we'll move the beer this weekend from the primary fermenter to a secondary fermenter where it can sit for a couple of weeks to mellow and mature before bottling.

Which means our Imperial friend should be coming up by the end of February/beginning of March. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

And on that note, have a great weekend. Here's a little thematically-appropriate P!nk action to get your weekend off on the right foot!

"Get The Party Started" Official Video- P!nk


  1. So....what volume of brew are you making in the crappy kitchen....enough to pacify a fraternity or enough to give a couple 2-3 sessions of euphoria?

  2. It's a 5-gallon batch, which is enough for about 48, 12-oz bottles. I guess it could keep a fraternity busy for about 4.8 seconds!

  3. i've never had an Imperial Nut Brown, but that sounds AWESOME!