Sam Adams released the 2019 Utopia and I was not able to get one so I started thinking about a high ABV beer of my own.  Around the same the same time I saw 10 gallon rum barrel that had also been used for brandy, which got me thinking about a rum raisin stout.  Flipping through a book of clone recipes I found Three Floyds Brewing Dark Lords Imperial Stout that comes in at 15%.  The clone recipe called for two separate mashes with the first boiled for four hours.  To get to my target ABV I had to jack up the grain bill and add in a gallon of honey and maple syrup.  I expect to age this for a year.

Grain Bill

Mash 1:
35lbs Pale Malt Crisp
Boiled 4 hrs

Mash 2:
15lbs Pale Malt Crisp
1.7lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats Malt
10.2ozs Crisp crystal medium.
13.3ozs Briess caramel 120L
1.3lbs Crisp Pale Chocolate
1.1lbs Crisp Chocolate
14ozs Crisp Black
2lbs Flaked oats

After boiling mash 1 for 4 hours mash 2 is added along with hop shot and boiled for an hour.

Additional items:
3 packs of Wyeast 1056
4 packs White Labs WLP099
1 gallon of orange blossom honey
1 gallon of maple syrup
Red Star distillers yeast

Brewing Notes

The 1056 and WLP099 are used for the initial fermentation in a unitank with 50% of the honey and maple syrup added post krausen.  The plan is to use the rest of the honey and maple syrup to feed the Red Star distillers yeast in the oak barrel.

Ended up only boiling mash 1 for just over 3 hours versus the planned 4 hours.  My boil off calculations was slightly off.  Boiled the combined mash for an hour to hit a SG of 1.2 and 10.75 gallons.  Instead of using the plate chiller I moved the hot wort to the unitank (Could not pump out the last half gallon or so) and cooled tank in walk-in over night.  Pitched the 1056 Sunday morning.  On brew day I made a starter with the WLP099 which I will pitch when I add some honey and syrup.

The table below was used in my planning to calculate SG for the combined brew.

Pre Boil Vol 10.42 4 2
Vol Post Boil 6.25 3.5 2 11.75
SG Post Boil 1.143 1.148 1.337
100% 53% 30% 17%
0.61 0.34 0.23
Combined SG 1.18 pre sg=post vol * post sg/pre vol
HR Boil Off Rate 88.900% 86=(6.25*post sg)/10.42
10.00 1hr post sg = 143
8.89 2hr
7.90 3hr
7.03 4hr
6.25 5hr

The table below shows calculations for primary fermentation in the unitank and half of the honey and maple syrup.  After doing some more research I believe my initial calculations for the honey maple syrup combination was wrong.  So I’m now changing the calculation by using a 1.4 SG for the honey and 1.37 SG for the maple syrup.  Therefore 1/2 gallon of half honey and half maple syrup would have a 1.385 SG.

Vol Unitank 10.5 1 11.5
SG 1.200 1.385
% Total 91% 9% 100%
SG Contribution 1.096 0.116 1.216

A few days into fermentation I added 1/4 gallon of honey and maple syrup and the WLP099 stater.  At two weeks into fermentation I added another 1/4 gallon of honey and maple syrup and 1.5 table spoons Red Star distillers yeast.  After another week I added another 1.5 table spoons of Red Star distillers yeast and raised the temp to 70.  Once fermentation really slowed I moved the temp up to 71 for a few days.

My plan is to crash the primary before transferring to the oak barrel and then add the rest of the honey and maple syrup and Red Star distillers yeast to finish the fermentation.

The table below shows fermentation calculations for the rum barrel / secondary.  If we are able to ferment to 1.01 then the 1.233 will yield 29.3% ABV, if we get to 1.03 then we get to 26.6% ABV.

Vol Barrel 9 1 10
SG 1.216 1.385
% Total 90% 10% 100%
SG Contribution 1.094 0.139 1.233

The plan is to finish the fermentation and age in the barrel for up to a year.

Feb 2020:  Fermentation has stopped and it seems like there is a big blob of honey in the bottom of the barrel.  That said ABV is certainly high and the SG measures 1.04, so I decided to see if I could get the fomentation started again.  I built a device to pulse O2 into the barrel after learning that Boston Beer Company does this for Utopia.  I tried some distillers yeast in a starter and some more WLP099 but in the end I would say it never got going.  I also pulsed 4 bottles of O2 through the barrel over the course of a week or so but to no end.  The plan now is to just let it sit the year we had planned.  The beer drinks really nice, but certainly thinner than I had wanted, which based on the ABV is not a shock.


In mash 1 I added 7g of gypsums and 4g of calcium chloride to bring the water profile to 54ppm Ca, 1ppm Mg, 38ppm Na, 74ppm Cl and 77ppm SO4.

In mash 2 I added #g of gypsums and #g of calcium chloride to bring the water profile to #ppm Ca, #ppm Mg, #ppm Na, #ppm Cl and #ppm SO4.