Start to Finish: 1 day to brew, 9 to 10 weeks for fermentation and bottle conditioning
Servings: 5 gallons
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Beer is made in three stages: brewing, fermentation and bottling. While all three are important, the brewing stage is the most critical -- that is when the beer takes on its flavor and style. Stouts fall into the dark ale style, which emphasizes malt over hops. Dark roasted malts take on bitter and sometimes floral notes that remind drinkers of black coffee. Adding cold-brewed coffee to the beer intensifies these flavors.
In addition to the ingredients, you will need a chemical sanitizer, 5-gallon brew pot, 5-gallon fermenting bucket with airlock, hydrometer, and a siphon. All of this equipment is available -- often as a kit -- from home brewing supply shops. The same store will carry a variety of beer kits that include all of the malts, hops and yeast you'll need.
Brewing can take several hours, depending on how long it takes to cool the wort and whether you start with malt syrup or whole grains. It is best, especially for new home brewers, to set aside an entire day.
- Imperial stout beer kit
- 2 ounces coarsely ground coffee
Fill the fermentation bucket with approximately 2 1/2 gallons of tap water. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons no-rinse sanitizer. Stir to combine.
Fill the bucket with any equipment you will use to make your beer, including stirring spoons, siphon, hydrometer and airlock. When in doubt, sanitize.
Soak the equipment for at least 30 seconds.
- Sanitation eliminates unwanted bacteria from the brewing process. Fermentation is a process of controlled bacterial processing, so starting with a clean slate allows the good bacteria -- yeast -- to take hold without competing with wild strains. Most home brewers use a one-step sanitizer that dissolves in water and does not require rinsing.
- Follow the instructions on the sanitizer package.
Steep coffee grounds for at least 1 hour in cold water. Cold water extracts flavor compounds in the coffee without the acid that is present in hot brewing methods. For a 5-gallon beer recipe, you will need 2 ounces of ground coffee and 2 cups of cold water.
Bring 3 gallons of water to a full rolling boil.
Proof the yeast. Sweeten 1/4 cup of boiled water with 1 teaspoon of sugar or malt extract. Add the yeast and let it sit out of direct sunlight for 30 minutes. You should see the yeast foaming; this is a sign of early fermentation. It means the yeast are alive and active. If you do not see any change, the yeast are dead. Restart the proofing process with new yeast.
Add malt extracts and hops once the water has come to a full boil. Stir constantly to reduce foaming as the water returns to a boil.
Add finishing hops, then remove the wort from the heat.
Pitch the Yeast
Stir the cold coffee into the hot wort.
Put the brew kettle into an ice bath to bring the temperature down to 65 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit as quickly as possible. The exact temperature is dictated by the type of yeast you're using. Follow the instructions on the package.
Stir the proofed yeast into the wort.
An immersion wort chiller made of coiled copper pipe is a non-essential but helpful piece of equipment. It brings the temperature of the wort down much faster than an ice bath.
Move Wort to Primary Fermenter
Pour the wort into a sanitized fermenting bucket or carboy. Seal the lid and add an airlock, which will allow you to monitor the fermentation process.
Put the fermentation bucket or carboy in a dark, out of the way location with a constant temperature of between 55 degrees to 72 degrees F, depending on your strain of yeast.
After 24 hours, you should start to see water bubbling in the airlock. This tells you that fermentation has begun. When the airlock stops bubbling, the beer is ready for bottling.
- Pour vigorously, allowing the liquid to churn and splash in the bucket. This will aerate the wort and ensure that the yeast is well mixed.
- There are many factors that can affect the length of time of fermentation, including temperature and water chemistry. It is best to use the airlock, rather than the calendar, as your guide.