Monday, February 23, 2015

Trying to replicate one of my favourite beers ever.

If you've been following my blog you might remember a beer I mentioned in a post a while back, the Belgian Summer Stout by Boatrocker, a Belgian Chocolate Stout with added raspberries. It is in my top five, or maybe even top two, favourite beers ever (probably tied with Garage Project's La Calavera Catrina)

I loved this beer so much that I actually emailed Boatrocker asking them when they were planning on making it again, as it was a seasonal beer. The response I got was:


Well, the response wasn't just no, but the whole truth was so much worse. You see, it was an accident and "not easily repeatable".

From Tim at Boatrocker:

"Basically it was a portion of the base imperial stout used to make Ramjet (about 9% abv), put into an ex-wine barrel with fresh raspberries for a few months. The high abv of the stout provided a very fresh and vibrant extraction of Raspberry character. When we racked it out of the barrel the Raspberry character was way too intense, so we decided to blend it down and make it into something more sessionable. We blended it heavily with a batch of dry (low FG) Belgian Chocolate Stout (less than 5% abv). The flavours combined very well, as it turned out Chocolate and Raspberry compliment each other nicely. But it would be exceptionally hard to recreate the same profile."

Ramjet is an incredible barrel aged imperial stout by Boatrocker that, if you haven't tried, you should definitely try.

Well there's no point in crying over spilt beer, I'm a home-brewer, a fucking home-brewer! We can do anything! I'm not going to let this shit stand!

I'll make it myself, I'll create this beautiful, delicious mistake at home!

Credit to contreras19 for the Invader Zim

So I made an imperial stout, around 8% ABV to soak the berries in. The brew day went well, Nothing really to report. My dad was over from NZ and so he came over to help out, along with my friend Jared. It was based on an old recipe of mine, the 'Nathan Fillion' Imperial Stout. It turned out very well and so I figured it would be best to be safe rather than try something new, especially considering how crazy this process is going to be.

So next step is to add berries. I want to add a lot too, I've made a beer with raspberries before and I wasn't happy with amount (the beer was great, just not raspberry enough). So for 20L of beer, I added 1.5kgs of frozen raspberries which I made sure weren't hepatitis A berries.

So first thing was to bring them to just under a simmer for about 10 - 20 minutes. This kills off any bacteria living on the berries that could possibly infect the beer.

Once it had sat for about 10 minutes and was pretty warm, I transferred it into my flask and put it back on the heat. I don't have a funnel so this was going to be the easiest way to get it into my new Better Bottle.

Success with no red stains anywhere!

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to add wood chips soaked in Pinot Noir, this is really the last step to making it an exact replica, but I might do it in the next few weeks. I don't want it to end up being overly oaky, I feel like it could possibly kill the refreshing-ness pretty easily.

And there it is, after a few days of sitting in my fermentation chamber it's starting to show some signs that the berries are fermenting. Will leave it for a few weeks in the fridge then I might move it somewhere dark so I can make that Belgian Chocolate Stout to blend it with!

P.S. The other beer I mentioned earlier, Garage Project's La Calavera Catrina, guess what? They don't make that any more either. 

EDIT: They do make it! But it's just not as good as it used to be...

Stay tuned.