Dark Matter 2012 Brew Day recap

Keith and Michelle hosted the 2012 Dark Matter Brew Day – this massive imperial stout has been brewed previously in 2006 and 2009, but the hope is that we will make this an annual event, allowing us to hold vertical tastings as the years go on.

Chief brewers for the day were Keith and Derek, who were joined by Sudzers Steve, Susie, Kathy, and Robin, as well as Keith’s friend Ryan.

Knowing that a massive brew done on an unfamiliar system would take some time, we started bright and early at 8:00 am building the improvised brew sculpture and beginning to heat the 20 gallons of water we would need for mashing 82 pounds of grain in the giant cooler mash tun borrowed from Dan from The Grain Trust. After some initial trouble getting the strike water to hold temperature as it ran into the cooler, we were eventually able to hit the target, and we ended up mashing at 154 degrees.

The cooler was completely maxed out, as you can see from the pictures. In fact, despite our best efforts, we were unable to get the last couple pounds of grain in, so we added them later to convert while we began running off the first of the wort. Because of the sheer pressure on the braided tubing in the mash tun, runoff was stop and go – we went through an ongoing ritual of continuing to stir the mash and blowing back into the runoff tube to create channels for the wort to travel. Eventually, removing a few gallons of mashed grains released the pressure and allowed runoff to proceed more smoothly.

As is typical with an epically long and busy brew day, more photos were captured during mash in, and relatively few as the day progressed. (Although we did pause to capture the moment before consuming one of the last remaining bottles of the 2009 Dark Matter!)

We added 1.5 pounds of DME that was on hand to help account for lower efficiency than estimated (about 60%, as compared to the 68% assumed in the recipe) as well as doing a two hour boil to reduce 22 gallons of 1.088 wort down to 18 gallons in the fermenters with an OG of 1.106. A massive amount of yeast was pitched (one pack dry Safale US 05, one vial White Labs WLP 001, and 1/4 of a US 05 yeast cake from an amber IPA Derek brewed last weekend in each of the four carboys containing 4.5 gallon batches) at about 5:30 last night, and by this morning there was already about an inch of krausen in the fermenters.

5 gallons of the stout will eventually go into a used Balcones Distillery bourbon barrel for aging, and the plan is to bottle condition all 18 gallons. Dues-paying club members will all receive at least one bottle some time next year, and the rest will be used for club events and future vertical tastings of this amazing club brew. Cheers!

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