03 – Imperial Vanilla Stout

This is my third beer homebrew ever brewed, and the fourth one bottled (it sat a bit longer than the chinook hopped rye ipa that was brewed a week after this one). The recipe is also my first one that I put together myself based on lots of online reading of recipes and suggestions. I took parts of a NorthernBrewer.com recipe and then was inspired to go in the direction of a Sierra Nevada Narwhal clone. The beer will be the strongest (hopefully) one I’ve made so far, and also will get the longest bottle conditioning. Brewing in March to give out in December. Looking forward to it! Have edited the post as I go, here are the details on this batch, starting with some notable changes for my beer making process thus far…

1) going bigger in gravity, this one target is 1.090 or higher for OG. last two batches were approx 1.054 and 1.062.
2) adding some complexity with number of grains and hops in the recipe. first batch was 2 grains and 1 hop, second was 4 grains and 2 hops, this one is 6 grains and 2 hops.
3) purchased oxygenation kit and infused pure O2 into the wort before pitching yeast and capping.
4) using an overflow tube instead of 3-piece airlock – mostly because i am tired of continually topping off the airlock with star-san as it bubbles away, and also to anticipate any possible actual overflow.


For the grain bill, I ended up going with the following…

percentage lbs ingredient
80.00% 16 two-row pale
6.25% 1.25 caramel/crystal 60
6.25% 1.25 chocolate 350/420
2.50% 0.5 honey
2.50% 0.5 carafa
2.50% 0.5 roasted barley
100.00% 20


For the hops/additions schedule, ended up going with the following…

timing amount type
start/150 mins boiling down
60 mins 2oz us magnum hops
30 mins 1oz uk challenger hops
15 mins 1oz uk challenger hops
yeast 2 packets safale s05
additions 5 wks in 3 vanilla beans


We brewed this beer on Saturday, January 3rd 2015, and the brew day notes are below…

  • Strike water 9 gallons resulted in more starting volume than anticipated, boiled down for about an hour before the “starting boil” time of 90 minutes, meaning about 90 minutes of boiling before first hop additions.
  • Kept to planned hop additions of 60 mins, 30 mins, 15 mins.
  • I used my Jaded Brewing King Cobra immersion chiller to get the wort from boiling to 65 F within 10 minutes, thanks to the tap water being especially cold due to the polar vortex 🙂
  • Transfer to fermentation bucket resulted in about 5-5.25 gallons of wort, with OG reading of… get this… maxed out my 1.000-1.075 hydrometer, so am not sure. Looks like 1.085? Immediately purchased higher gravity hydrometer for future batches after this brew day.
  • First time splitting the grains over multiple strainer bags, my “new” one from LHBS actually was not as fine mesh as my existing one and had issue where some grains were in the water after mashout. Used my trusty strainer to scoop them out but they were very fine and took a while. Lesson learned, use only “good” strainer bags.
  • Oxygenated the wort, then pitched the 2 packets of  rehydrated Safale US05 yeast.


The OG reading. What do you think it is actually? I guestimated 1.085 but if it’s higher i would be stoked 😛


We added three Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans to this beer on Tuesday, February 10th, and then bottled the beer on Tuesday, March 3rd. Our notes from the results are…

  • The OG original gravity reading was approximately / guestimate of 1.085 and the FG final gravity reading was 1.026, resulting in about 7.9% ABV or higher. Hate that I didn’t have the correct hydrometer
  • The overall volume filled 23 22oz bottles and 1 12oz bottle, falling just shy of our planned 24 bottles / 2 cases, but that’s with the sample for hydrometer reading taken.
  • Much better siphoning process this batch, avoiding stirring up any trub and stopped at just the right moment. Avoided leaving any significant wort behind in fermentation bucket.


The goal of this batch is to continue my new tradition of having an annual holiday beer to give to friends and family right before Christmas. This past season was the first one, the Hudson’s Homemade Maltipoo Porter, and this one will be Hudson’s Homemade Imperial Vanilla Stout. Aside from opening a couple throughout the year, most will bottle condition for 9 months 🙂


ElderflowerLimeBelgianWit (7)
Here is a small glass of the imperial vanilla stout being sampled April 2016, over a year of bottle conditioning later! It is getting pretty good IMO 🙂


Opened another bottle while bottling a batch early 2016. Getting good!



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