Stone 07.07.07 Vertical Epic Ale
This year’s version of the Vertical Epic series (our sixth) is a tribute to all things summer in Southern California. It seemed only fitting that this year we took our inspiration from our favorite Saisons (the beer brewed in the spring to last all summer long), and Tripels and melded these inspirations to make what we feel is the perfect beer for July: golden, refreshing, and full of flavor.
We decided to brew this beer with a hint of ginger, a traditional Saison brewing spice, and also with some cardamom, which comes through as an exotic spiciness in the finish. Additional complexity comes from the blend of grapefruit, lemon and orange peel which combine nicely with the tropical fruit esters provided by the Belgian yeast. It’s going to interesting to see how this beer ages over time. At 8.4% ABV, it’s built for aging.
So it is with pleasure that we present you with the homebrew recipe for the Stone Vertical Epic 07.07.07. As always, the instructions below are designed for an all malt beer. If you are an extract brewer and are uncomfortable with converting this recipe to an extract version, we suggest you contact a local homebrew store or local homebrew club for help.
For sourcing the spices and citrus peel, try to find a local supplier that carries fresh, locally grown spices. You really can’t skimp on this part, they contribute such an important part of the flavor, and you need to use only the best!
Here are the ingredients (there are lots of them!):
Here are the ingredients:
Pale Malt: 71.6%
Wheat Malt: 14.5%
Light Munich Malt: 5%
Vienna Malt: 5%
Blonde Candi Sugar: 3.9%
Glacier hop pellets
2 grams/gallon (0.078 oz/ gallon)
Crystal Hop Pellets
3.1 grams/gallon (0.11 oz/ gallon)
0.3 grams/gallon (0.01 oz/ gallon)
0.25 grams/gallon (0.009 oz/gallon)
Dried Grapefruit Peel
2.4 grams/ gallon (0.09 oz gallon)
Dried Orange Peel
2.4 grams/ gallon (0.09 oz gallon)
Dried Lemon Peel
2.4 grams/ gallon (0.09 oz gallon)
White Labs blend of WLP 566 (Saison II)
and WLP 565 (Saison I)
and WLP 550 (Belgian Ale)
|And here are the specs:
Starting Gravity: 19.5°P (1.078 SG)
Terminal Gravity: 2.6°P (1.010 SG)
The Brewing Process:
Mill your grain using a medium grind profile. Don’t mill too tightly, you’ll crush your husk, you will extract astringent (drying) flavors and have poor lautering. Mill too loose and you’ll have low efficiency (although the wort should lauter great!). The bottom line is you want to make sure your malt husk remains reasonably intact to assist with the wort clarification process during lautering. Also note that the wheat malt has no husk. At 14.5% of the grist, the wheat malt shouldn’t present any lautering problems, but if you use a higher percentage, you could have slow run-offs during lautering.
Milling is hard work (unless you have a powered mill or a drill that can turn your rollers), so you need to crank some rocking tunes here. I suggest the Smithereens “11” album because Rickenbacker Guitars cranked through Marshall Amps help get the blood pumping and will help keep you cranking on the mill. You also need a beer that goes to 11, something extremely hoppy for the milling process. Stone IPA works for me!
If you are milling on brew day, this is also a good time to start heating your mash water. I like to heat my mash water very hot (even up to boiling), in order to flash off the chlorine in the city water, then let it cool down to strike temperature. We’re going to use a fairly low conversion rest temperature with this beer, so let the water cool down to about 165°F or so. If you like to use mineral additions, this is a good place to add them. Note that our brewing water is about 100 ppm hardness.
Mash in all your malts with your mash water until you get 148°F mash. Then maintain the 148°F temperature for 90 minutes. This is a long conversion at a fairly low temperature, designed to create a dry beer with a low terminal gravity.
With such a long conversion rest, you not only have plenty of time to get your hops together, weigh out the candi sugar and spices, and get things ready for the next few steps, but you should also have time for some relaxation. If you brew early in the morning, like I do, pour yourself a nice strong cup of locally roasted coffee, and have a little food, a bagel or some whole grain sourdough toast with New England Maple Cream. If you brew later in the day, guess what! Time for a beer! Mashing is the time to have an inspirational beer, so for this beer, a Saison DuPont, Lost Abbey Red Barn Ale, an Ommegang Hennepin, or an Allagash Tripel would all work well. Accompany that with some New Orleans funk from The Meters and your malt enzymes will be converting those starches into fermentable sugars like you won’t believe.
After a 90 minute conversion rest, vorlauf (circulate) your wort through the grain bed until it clears up. This helps set the grain bed to clarify the wort, and also helps minimize any malt husks from making it to the wort boil, where they could otherwise contribute some harsh flavors. After the wort is reasonably clear ( a little haze is OK, but clumps of grain are not), start transferring wort to the pot for the boil. When the wort level in your mashing vessel reaches about 1/2” to 1” above your grain bed, gently start adding sparge water that has been heated to 165-170°F. Again, I’d boil the water first, then let it cool down to the target temperature. Maintain a liquid level about 1-2” above your grain bed by continuously adding sparge water.
Draw off wort until you reach your target wort kettle volume or your wort reaches 2.5°P. Going any lower in sugar concentration can result in extracting harsh flavors from the malt husks.
About half way through the lautering process, start heating your wort in the kettle pot to boil. The idea is to be at boil ASAP after reaching your target kettle fill volume, and it never hurts to get a head start.
After your wort has reached boil, add the hops. This is also when you want to add the Blonde Candi Sugar. This ingredient may be hard to find (we had to have ours flown over from Belgium especially for this beer), but a blend of 75% light and 25% amber candi sugar should work, as might demerara sugar, turbinado sugar or even light brown sugar. Be sure to stir it in well to avoid scorching the sugar. Boil the wort for 90 minutes or until your target gravity (19.5°P) is reached.
After the boil has stabilized, the wort chiller and fermentor are ready, this is the time to relax for just a bit. A bit of Cuban piano from Ruben Gonzalez helps slow the pace, along with a nice sipping beer like a Thomas Hardy’s, a Bigfoot Barley Wine, or a Victory Old Horizontal.
This is where the spices get added. After your boil is done and you’ve turned off the heat, go ahead and add the spices. Use a hop bag or tea bag if your citrus peel is in big pieces (sometimes the peel can come in ground form). A bag is not necessary for the ground ginger and cardamom. Stir in everything, and get that wort spinning! Let the wort settle for 15 minutes or so, then decant off the clear wort through a wort chiller and into your fermentor. Chill the wort to about 75°F.
We performed a lot of trials with Belgian yeasts, and we ended up using a blend of 3 different yeast strains in this beer that gave us the flavor profile and the fermentation performance we wanted. Any one of those 3 strains will give you a great tasting beer. We found it best to allow the fermentation temperature to rise from 75°F to just above 80°F during the fermentation. This helps keep the yeast growing and fermenting nicely. It may take 2-3 weeks or so for the beer to ferment out (remember, the terminal gravity is 2.9°P), so be patient, and enjoy some nice Belgian beers to help coax those Belgian yeast cells to continue fermenting your wort into the golden nectar that it will become.
Rack the beer soon after it reaches terminal gravity, then age cool for a couple of weeks. Package any way you want to, and enjoy it immediately or save for aging as you see fit. The choice is yours.
And don’t forget to send us in a sample!