A beer ten years in the making

One of the greatest things about home brewing is the ability to brew batches to commemorate any special occasion. In my family celebrations and beer go hand in hand. So, it made sense for me to brew a majority of the beer for our wedding last May. Jen and I thought it would be a great personal touch to the biggest celebration of our lives. It was a ton of work to brew and bottle over ten cases, but to share this special day with family and friends enjoying the beer I brewed was really rewarding. The whole process is documented at my old blog if you’re interested in reading more.

Our little love story started ten years ago when Jen and I met while working at an Italian restaurant, Vinny Testas. This past week we celebrated our ten year anniversary, so I knew a special batch was in order. Because of this milestone, I had some specifics planned for this beer: 1) I’m shooting for 10% abv for obvious reasons 2) I want a beer that will age well so we can crack one open on our anniversary for years to come 3) I wanted to use the washed Wyeast 1056 saved from the batches made for the wedding. This wouldn’t be an easy task considering the age of the yeast and my modest brewing rig.

I decided to go with a Russian imperial stout and made a starter with the washed yeast last week. After a little lag time the starter took off and looked/smelled healthy. I stepped it up two more times to ensure it was ready for pitching. To eliminate any doubt of healthy fermentation, an extra smack pack of 1056 would also be pitched. With that out of the way I was left to wonder, “How the hell am I going to make five gallons of 10% beer with a five gallon igloo mash tun?!” No fear… BREW STRONG!

I can proudly say that 14 pounds of grain will fit in a 5 gallon igloo cooler with a 1.1 quart of water per pound of grain ratio…barley (see pic below). I collected about 6.75 gallons of 1.060 wort after batch sparging. To boost the gravity, I added dark DME in 15 minute intervals throughout the boil. When all was said and done, I added three pounds throughout the boil and hit 1.105. This brew day was full of improv and probably wouldn’t have turned out so well without the help of a refractometer.

I’m happy to report fermentation took off almost immediately and is still chugging away. All signs indicate this batch will be a success. My plan is to give it about a month for primary then rack it onto something special. With a little luck it’ll be ready in time for our 11th anniversary.

Dieci Anni Di Dolci
Brewed February 19, 2012
Yeast: Wyeast 1056
Starter: Yes
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Target Original Gravity: 1.101
IBU: 96
Efficiency: 76%
Boiling Time (Minutes): 80
Color: 55 SRM
Mash: Single Infusion @ 153F (60 minutes) – Batch Sparge

Grain Bill:
11 lb Marris Otter
1.5 lb Chocolate Malt
1 lb Roasted Barley
12 oz Flaked Barley
4 oz Special B Malt
3 lb Dark DME (added at 60, 45, and 30 minutes)

80 min 4 oz Centennial (7.5%)
15 min Irish Moss
10 min 1 oz East Kent Golding (4.5%)
5 min 1.6 oz East Kent Golding (4.5%)
2 tsp Yeast Nutrient