Monday, April 18, 2011

Portsmouth Kate the Great Clone Recipe

More than five pounds of specialty malts, probably the most I've used in a 5 gallon batch.Russian Imperial Stout is one of the styles that I enjoy drinking, but have yet to master brewing.  The best examples of the style are smooth, balanced, and have a depth of roasted complexity that I have yet to replicate.  I've made some solid attempts (like my Breakfast Stout Riff), but none that I've been completely satisfied with.

One of my favorite commercial examples, Portsmouth Brewing's Kate the Great. Like a lot of other notable beers the release for Kate is very limited, which makes bottles tough get.  In fact Kate the Great is released at the brewpub just one day each year (it sells out quickly due to how rare/popular it is).  A few years ago, before it was bottled/hyped, there were a couple month each winter when you could drive up to the brewpub (as I did when I lived in Massachusetts) to get a snifter of it with dinner.

One of the aspects I like about brewing (or cooking) someone else's recipe is that it forces me to try combinations that I wouldn't otherwise.  Sometimes I learn something that changes the way I write recipes, other times it reinforces what I already thought.  This clone recipe comes straight from Todd Mott (Portsmouth Brewing's brewer) by way of a post on Homebrew Talk.  It is a complex recipe that calls for eleven malts and six hops.  In an NPR interview Todd previously mentioned that the brewery adds brown sugar to Kate, but this recipe didn't mention it.  This recipe is the polar opposite of the 90 Shilling Stout I just put on tap, which had only two malts and one hop.

I had to use my big mash tun for this batch.I had to add one pound of light dry malt extract to the boil because my efficiency was considerably lower than I had anticipated.  I adjusted the hop bill based on what I had on hand, with six months or more of age on the beer the hops will not be a big factor in the final character anyway.  I had a yeast cake of WY1272 (American Ale II) from my India Red Ale so I pitched part of that instead of the WY1056 (American Ale) that was called for.  These two strains have similar attenuation and produce similarly clean flavors when fermented in the 60s F.

The combination of the hops, dark malt, wheat, and flaked barley lead to a thick krausen.This combination of yeast and wort produced one of the most aggressive fermentations I've seen (about 1.25 gallons went out the blow-off tube despite ambient temperatures in the mid-50s).  After 36 hours the yeast was still ejecting beer so I decided to pour the remaining liquid into an eight gallon bucket (where I should have started fermentation).  Luckily I began with a bit of extra wort, so I still yielded 4 gallons of beer when primary fermentation was complete.

This massive stout is currently sitting on 3/4 oz of port soaked French oak cubes for the next few months until I get around to bottling it.  A keg seemed like a good aging vessel since I won't have to worry about topping off an airlock, and I could purge it with CO2. Hopefully it will be ready to drink by the end of the year.

Kate the Great Clone

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 24.03
Anticipated OG: 1.101
Anticipated SRM: 51.4
Anticipated IBU: 73.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 63 %
Wort Boil Time: 135 Minutes

73.9% - 17.75 lbs. American Pale "2-row"
4.2% - 1.00 lbs. Light DME
3.4% - 0.81 lbs. Flaked Barley
3.4% - 0.81 lbs. Special B
3.4% - 0.81 lbs. Wheat Malt
2.9% - 0.69 lbs. Carafa Special III
2.3% - 0.56 lbs. Aromatic Malt
2.1% - 0.50 lbs. Crystal 60L
1.8% - 0.44 lbs. Roasted Barley (~500L)
0.9% - 0.22 lbs. Black Patent Malt
0.9% - 0.22 lbs. Chocolate Malt
0.9% - 0.22 lbs. Crystal 120L

2.00 oz. Columbus (Pellet, 13.00% AA) @ 75 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 5.25% AA) @ 0 min.

These small mason jars are perfect for soaking oak cubes in wines/spirits.--------
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.75 oz Port soaked medium toast French oak cubes for 120 days

WYeast 1272 American Ale II

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 149

3/26/11 Brewed by myself

Mash started a bit cool so i infused a bit of boiling water after 10 minutes to keep it up, by the end of the mash it was down in the mid-140s. pH was a bit low (5.1) half way through the mash, so I added 2 g each chalk and baking soda.

Collected 3.5 gallons of first runnings. Batch sparged with 180 F water and collected 3.75 gallons of second runnings. Gravity 1.068... a bit lower than I was expecting. Boiled down 2 gallons of extra final runnings I collected to add to the beer.

Added 1 lb of light DME to a quart of the wort, brought to a boil, and added to the cooling wort since I was still under gravity.

Chilled to 68 and pitched onto the yeast cake from my hoppy red. Shook to aerate, then pumped in 60 seconds of O2. Left at 57 F ambient to start fermenting.

Massive blow-off. After 36 hours I poured it into an 8 gallon bucket since it was still losing beer. Maybe 1.25 gallons blown off.

4/2/11 Moved to 62 F and added an airlock to let it finish fermenting (still had a really thick krausen). Looks like it is down to about 4 gallons, I'll be lucky to get 3.5 gallons of finished beer out of this one.

4/9/11 Racked to a keg, added .75 oz of port soaked French oak cubes, flushed with CO2. Got about 4 gallons, not as bad as I feared.  Down to 1.028 (71% AA, 10% ABV), may drop another point or two, but it is fine as is.  Left in the mid-60s to age.

9/25/11 Filled a 1 gallon just with 1 1/8 oz Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 each guajillo and ancho peppers all steeped in 1 cup of boiling water. 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract added as well.

Bottled the remaining 2.75 gallons with 1.5 oz of cane sugar and a gram of rehydrated wine yeast.  The beer had developed some carbonation in the keg from slow fermentation.  Beer still seemed pretty cloudy.

10/4/11 Decent carbonation already, big port character, really smooth roast, going to be a winner.

10/30/1 Tastes great, but is too carbonated. Not sure if it was the wine yeast eating more than the priming sugar or what...

11/5/11 Bottled the resulting 1 gallon of the portion that had been on chilies with ~1 g of rehydrated Premire Cuvee and .5 oz of table sugar. It looked like there was a bit of wild yeast growth on the floating chilies on the top, but it tasted great.

12/15/11 Tasting of the plain version. Not a bad beer, but just not enough roast to be a great RIS. I'd probably go 50% higher (if not double) the roasted barley, chocolate, and black if I brewed it again.

4/23/12 Tasting of the Mole version. I like this one a lot, but it could have been mashed a couple degrees warmer. I could go slightly higher on the cocoa, and with vanilla bean instead of extract as well.

I will give you #s for a full mash and a partial mash, since it is pretty much impossible to brew Kate with an all extract recipe.

When we brew a batch of Kate we use 77% Pale malt, 2% Crystal 45, 1% Caramel 120, 1% Chocolate malt,1% Black malt, 3% Carafa DH# 3 (Weyerman),3.5% Wheat malt 3.5% Flaked Barley, 2% Roasted malt, 3.5% Special B, 2.5% Aromatic. We dough in at 166 to stabilize the mash at 149 degrees F. Saccrification rest for 45 min. or until conversion occurs. Vorlauff (recirculate) 'til clarified and run off. Collect about 1/3rd of your wort and sparge to collect 6.5 gals (for a 5 gal. yield) at 26 degrees Plato or 1.104 degrees Specific Gravity. Yea it's big.... but we like it like that!! (So you are going to need to use your mash tun efficiency to figure out how many pounds of malt you are going to need in total. But to tell you the truth when you get to this thick of a mash your efficiency is going to drop 3-4%).

Boil the wort for 5 mins. for the hot break and then add your bittering hops for 75 mins. We bitter at 38 IBUs with Magnum, 10 IBUs with Styrian Golding and 15 IBUs with Perle. This is the bittering addition. We add a flavor addition for 15 mins with Centennial for 2 IBUS. Our final addition of Palisade, Styrian Golding and Willamette account for about 3 more IBUs at whirlpool. Cool wort and pitch a good amount of White labs WLP 001 or Wyeast 1056 and ferment til it is done. Put into conditioning for about 5 or 6 months and you'll have an amazing imperial stout.

Good luck. Hope this helps Cheers! Tod Mott

"All of Kate is lightly oaked. We make our own Portwood simply by infusing oak spirals ( The Barrel Mill, Avon, MN- 800.201.7125) with local Port. Of course if I told you the amounts and proportions I have to kill you!! Actually, we take 6 spirals and break them up, place them into a 10 gal. corny keg and pour 3 bottles of Tawney Port over the spirals. We add about 10 PSI to the keg and let the concoction sit for 18-25 days. Then we fill the remainder of the 10 gal. keg with Kate. Let it sit at ambient temp for 45-60 days then inject the 10 gals back into the 440 gals of KtG. Once the keg is empty we then back fill the 10 gals and let the Kate sit on the oak for another 6 months. This become the double oaked Kate. Very rare, only about 56 bottles produced. Hope this helps. Kate can age for 6 years once in bottles, if truth be known!! Cheers! Tod Mott"


JC Tetreault said...

When I first saw this recipe on HBT, the first thing I thought...this recipe would get torn apart on the homebrew boards, if someone had presented it as a homebrewer vs. directly from Tod Mott. It comes across as a 'kitchen sink' recipe, but is clearly the product of many years of refinement by a very accomplished brewer. I've got this in the queue for brewing myself, we'll have to compare notes.

Oh, one note on the extreme losses from blowoff...I've begun using fermcap-S, and I can now easily get away with squeezing so much beer in a fermenter to only need to dedicate ~1 gallon of headspace, even with notorious huge krausen beers. helps w/ oxygenation foaming and...anecdotally, I'm seeing even better head formation and retention in the finished product, too.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Agreed, it will be interesting to see if his refining carries across when adjusting the volume/efficiency/system.

I have a couple friends who swear by Ferm-cap, but I’ve read in some places that filtration is strongly recommended to ensure it doesn’t make it to the glass. On principle I avoid chemical additives whenever I can, especially when the solution is as easy as using a larger primary fermenter.

JC Tetreault said...

I can get behind was a little freaky, knowing this is used in chicken mcnuggets.

however, I know jolly pumpkin uses it (doesn't filter), so I looked up the MSDS, and saw no toxicity to algae, etc is biodegradable. didn't see any rodent/animal studies tho:


Unknown said...

I am very, VERY interested to see how this one turns out. As JC said, my initial reaction was, "Wow, if I just saw that as a homebrewer's recipe, I would assume it will be muddy and too complicated." Obviously, people are happy with the results, though, and even complicated recipes can sometimes yield perfect results, if done right. (I'm thinking a good mole sauce here.)

Best of luck with this one. I'm really hoping it turns out because the recipe is in my queue for later this year.

Anuj said...

semi-off topic.

a ris i just brewed completely stalled at around 1.045. ive tried adding extra yeast to it without any luck.

the OG was 1.099 (around 7% alch) and i was aiming for to to finish pretty viscous (around 1.03) so what i was thinking of doing is doing a late sugar addition and diluting it with water that has been boiled with the same hops(keep IBUs the same).

the only issue is i have no idea how much sugar to add. what is the most logical way to figuring this out?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

How have you tried repitching? I'd suggest getting a small starter of US-05 actively fermenting and then pitching it into the beer at high krausen. It is an attenuative strain, and pitching active yeast will give it the best shot of working in such a stressful environment.

Adding sugar will only help if the problem is the fermentability of the wort (and not the yeast). Did you mash hot, use a lot of dark extract, or use loads of crystal malt?

Hope that helps, good luck!

Anuj said...

i think i may have mashed a bit hotter than i was supposed to and over did it a bit on the rye. i repitched (wyeast american II or something like that i dont remember off the top of my head) this morning actually and there doesnt seem to be any activity.

i am almost positive its a wort unfermentability issue rather than weak yeast at this point.

JLap said...

I'll be interested to hear your report about the roast profile of the final beer. Beyond the complexity of the recipe, there isn't nearly as much roasted grain as I'd expect to find a beer like this. Especially with the de-husked Carafa. Not doubting, but I use practically that much roasted grain in a robust porter!

OddNotion said...

I just brewed this as well (about 3 weeks ago at this point). I used 2 pounds of extra light DME to get to 1.100, aerated the crap out of it and pitched an insane amount of yeast, it is now down to 1.024. It tastes great so far.

Anyway, I will be transferring to the secondary in a couple of weeks and was wondering what you did for the port soaked oak. I was planning on getting some medium toast oak cubes and soaking them in some port I just picked up today. Any advice on the amount of cubes to add, how long to soak them, and do I add any port to the secondary or just the cubes?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Nice. I had been keeping a few ounces of medium toast French oak cubes soaking in port for a couple months before. My plan is to blend in a bit of port at bottling if it needs a boost, I was surprised how much of that character I tasted in the bottle of the most recent batch I had last week (my first taste since I had it at the pub back in 2006). I used .75 oz (post-soak weight).

Good luck!

Haputanlas said...

How much longer do you plan on aging this before you sample it again?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Just pulled a sample yesterday, really good, balanced Imperial stout. A bit lighter than Kate I think, but probably the best RIS I have brewed.

I'll bottle soon (and rack a gallon onto chocolate/chile/vanilla/cinnamon).

unholymess said...

Still think it needs the roast malts doubled ?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd boost the dark grains by at least 50% if you really want it to taste as roasty as most Imperial Stouts.

unholymess said...

Do you think that'll trash the balance for that recipe or would it fit in well ?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It is about what you want in the beer. If you want a typical Imperial Stout level roast, then the recipe would be fine with an across the board 50% more on the dark grains (or a more specific boost to certain grains).

Anonymous said...

How much cocoa did you use 1/8 a cup tbls teaspoon?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sorry for the omission, 1 1/8 ounces (by weight) of cocoa powder. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

When did you add the cocoa powder?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I added when I racked to tertiary, after significant aging in secondary. Look in the notes for all the details on when and how.

Aaron Ouellette - said...

I was wondering if there was a reason why you simplified the hop bill as you did? (compared to the recipe from todd).

I'm planning on brewing a party gyle version of this beer, and I'm just wondering if there was a reason to simplify it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Part of the simplification was ease. The rest was that I never found the beer to be particularly hop-driven. As a result it didn't seem like it was worth the effort for a beer that would be aged before the bulk of it was consumed (especially the multiple bittering hops). If you feel differently, or happen to have the seven hop varieties called for on hand, then by all means!

Thom said...

Hi Mike,

I really appreciate your posting your experience with this recipe. I have heard about Kate the Great but living in California realize that my chances of getting to try it are very slim.

I had a question. How did your beer compare to the original Kate the Great? Did the original have more body or roasty flavors?

When I saw the recipe on HBT I put it in a spreadsheet and compared it to other recipes I had and noticed the dark malts were much less.

So I guess my question is if you wanted to clone the original KTG are there any tweaks to your recipe that you would recommend?

Thanks again for all the great information and help you provide on this site!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The original is not super-roasty, but it is roastier than my clone recipe was. It could be something as simple as upping the amount of roasted barley. Similar story with the body, thicker than mine, but not as thick as many other highly-rated RIS. Mashing a couple degrees warmer is probably all it would take.

Best of luck!

Unknown said...

Mike - have you brewed this recently and are there any changes to the recipe? I have read posts elsewhere where people cite talking with you and upping the roasted barley and making other refinements. Please advise.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

My tasting notes indicated that the result wasn't as roasty as Portsmouth's original. I haven't re=brewed it though, so I'd check the results of those people who have made an adjustment.

Unknown said...

Trying to replicate the mole version. But, when you say: 9/25/11 "Filled a 1 gallon just with....etc..", it means 1: that you've steeped all that stuff in boiling water for some minute and after that you've putted all together in sack for a dryhop in the keg.. or 2. after that you've putted just the resulting infuse in the keg?

Thank you for the answer and for your beautiful site

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The mole ingredients were mixed with hot water and that whole slurry was added to a one gallon jug and topped off with the stout.

Just shared a bottle of it with a few people who'd just been at a Cigar City event. They suggested it had less vanilla and cinnamon than Hunahpu, but more chile. Still tasted pretty great to me!

Ironseth said...

Hi Mike, I brewed a similar recipe a couple months ago. After 6 weeks in secondary it started to develop what appears to be a wild yeast infection on the surface (admittedly there was too much head space in secondary). I'm hoping to stave off the infection before it ruins the batch. Do you think adding Camden tablets (similar to your Courage RIS) would do the trick? Pasteurization on the homebrew scale seems very problematic. Thanks for any thoughts/advice. Amazing blog and congrats on the book! Cheers, Seth

SiriS said...


I am located in The Netherlands and have brewed this KTG clone recipe yesterday. I give up the idea to compare this clone beer to the original, but rely on your recipe. One this is not clear to me; which kind of port did you used to soak the oak?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Hopefully it turns out well! Sadly I didn't make a note of the brand of port, but it was a relatively inexpensive tawny I believe. Portsmouth used a local port from Flag Hill.

As a side note, Todd Mott has now opened Tributary Brewing and released Mott the Lesser (his new version of Kate the Great)!