Nov 152010

Indestructible Dark Ale

Beer:  Indestructible Dark Ale  7%ABV 25IBU

Brew Date: 15/11/10

Brew Time: All evening

Smith’s Dark (aka INDESTRUCTIBLE) is our own evolution of a tried and tested recipe. We wanted to brew a malty dark beer over christmas with some complex malt and grain flavours, with the proviso that it had to be strong. We took a recipe for a Biere de Garde from Brew Classic Euro Beers at Home, upped the anti by using Chocolate Malt in place of Amber and increasing the dark crystal and crystal malt in the recipe to balance out the high ABV.  Obviously a complex beer with such a high ABV could take anything up to 6 months to mature, but we were prepared for this and weren’t expecting it to be ready for up to a year. It’s hard to say whether this beer could be described as a stout or a porter, for me unless it contains roasted barley it’s not a stout and porter suggests a more classical and simple beer, thus Dark Ale is a confident description for this complex beer.

The brewing process follows the pattern you’d expect to produce a typical British Ale with a single infusion mash. Hops are also a classic British choice with the hope that the low Alpha Acid levels and high bulk will add some underlying hop character to the beer, not just bitterness as with the Biere de Garde. Unlikely with all these malt flavours but we’ll see. Ultimately we have taken a reliable trusted recipe and twisted it quite dramatically to make what we wanted.

We aimed for 40l of beer and we presumed a  75% efficiency.  The OG was 1.065 so an ABV of 7% or so presuming an FG of 1.010.

Apologise for the relative brevity of write up and lack of photos (UPDATE: Found Photos!), but this beer was brewed over a year ago, and it has only really reached its potential now.


Grain Bill – 40L 7% ABV @ 75% efficiency

  • 9.6kg Pale Malt
  • 500g Chocolate Malt
  • 500g Crystal Malt
  • 160g Dark Crystal

Total grain bill: 10.76kg

Hops – 25IBU

  • 88.4g Goldings (5.6%)


Safale S-04


Pre-heated tun with a kettle full of boiling water to reduce heat losses. Doughed in gradually with 18L of strike water @80 C (1.5L/kg). Grain temp 10 C resulting in a grainbed  at 65.5  C. We aimed for a 1hr mash but ended up at 65 C after 1hr40min.  We should probably start recording why these delays happen – usually because we forgot to heat  water, but I think we went to Tesco during the mash this time.

Fly Sparge

Heated 38L (80% target vol) sparge water and collected 47L overall. Target volume was brew volume + 20% to allow for boil reduction (48L). We recirculated the first 2L or runnings. The final grain bed temperature was 77 C. Sugars dissolve at 60 C so this is great and also less than 80 C, so we avoided extracting tannins from the grain husks.


47L just squeezes into our 50L boiler. It was boiled to hot break and then turned down the gas slightly and then the loose hops were added. Our hop strainer is a stainless pan scourer jammed in the back of the boiler tap. Boiled a little over time at 70minutes but the increase in bitterness extraction from the hops should be negligable. We achieved exactly 20% reduction in volume which is ideal for coagulating proteins in the final beer. The brew was flash chilled using a Therminator plate heat exchanger to pitching temp. Used a quick cheat and sanitised the fermenters and taps by steaming them over the boiler with the taps open.


40L @ OG1.063. Fermentis S-04 a great standard for fruity ale yeast with a heigh sedimentation (i.e. forms a nice tight yeast bed and a clear beer once it’s finished fermenting.) Pitched quite heigh at 37 C, 1 sachet 11.5g split between 2 batches of 20L.

24hrs – Healthy 6″ Krausen and emphatic airlock activity.

9 days – Racked at FG1.010-1.012 into Corny kegs.


Placed outside throughout the winter in an outdoor shed at -2 oC to +4 oC for at least a month. This should serve to function as a form of cold conditioning for the beer as the yeast can survive and reclaim many of it’s metabolic by-products as with many Belgian high ABV ales.


Cost works out at about 22.5p per pint. Great efficiency at 75%. The 57L mash tun could comfortably handle double the recipe although we’d need to boil in 2 batches.

Indestructible, this beer has put up with some serious abuse.  It has been forgotten and thrown out of windows.

A dark rich stout-like beer with a good drinkable body, roasty and liquorice flavours and not too heavy in the body. A good creamy head. Great Dark beer, definitely one to brew again.


On reflection this beer with it’s residual sweetness could take IBU’s anywhere up to 40 or 50. However at 25IBU we’re not complaining too much. In the future it would be really interesting to take some of the learnings from Belgian beers and treat this beer to make it thinner and increasingly drinkable by stepping the mash, using a heigh attenuation yeast and cold conditioning the beer.

 November 15, 2010  Posted by