by Lee Chase
For those who didn’t get any Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale and have to make their own, here is an all-grain homebrew recipe to help you out. Your results may vary (wink).
NOTE: I have added a fair amount of detail, but the novice brewer should consult a guidebook such as The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian.
The grist follows in percentages. You may need more or less depending on what kind of efficiency you are used to getting out of your system.
48.5% Great Western Pale 2-Row
40.25% Red Wheat Flakes (unmalted)
5% Rice Hulls
The total grist bill for 5 gallons might be about 17 pounds for a starting gravity of 1.075 (or 18P), depending on your system.
NOTE: I don’t think you can go wrong using more rice hulls, but if you use too little, you may want to make an extra trip to the store for some beer to sip on during the 6 hours it will take for your kettle to fill up! (run –off will be very slow without the rice hulls.)
For the first rest, mash in thick and try to hit a rest temperature of 122ºF (protein rest). With the large quantity of unmalted wheat and oats you will want the rice hulls to be mixed in well. The rice hulls will help in the run-off, as wheat has no husk to aid as a filter bed. Strike (hot water) temps may vary, but try a strike near 132f. Rest at 122ºF for 40 minutes. If you don’t have the vinyl copy of “Big Hits By Prado”, go ahead and put the CD in of Perez Prado-greatest hits. Make sure the volume is loud enough to stimulate the enzymes in the mash. I usually play both sides of the record (40 minutes) at a “loudness” of 6 on the Magnavox Micromatic console stereo. (I’ve heard you can cut the rest down by as much as 15 minutes if the volume is at 9, but haven’t tried it.)
To bring the temperature up to the second rest, add some hot water (hot liquor, 172ºF or below) and check the temp. Don’t add too much water, but a little on the thin side is good. You want to rest at 148, so you may need to put the mash back on the fire to heat it up. If so, be sure to stir it constantly, and don’t over heat it! Let it rest at 148 for another 40 minutes.
After the 2nd rest, you are ready recycle the wort (“vorlauf”, or vorlaufvehrfahren) back to the top of the mash. You may need to transfer the mash to a lauter tun (container with a false bottom). Gently drain the liquid from the lauter tun at a steady pace, and pour it back onto the grain bed.
The wort will never clear completely, but you want to remove any of the solid particles from the liquid before collecting it in the kettle and starting to sparge (rinsing the grain with hot water). This usually takes only a few minutes of recirculation. Then you are ready to start collecting the wort in the kettle. I like to get the kettle in a position to start it heating while the sparge is filling it. Saves a little time.
Sparge water temperature should not exceed 170ºF. I like to sparge a little cooler (around 160ºF) and just accept the lower yield. I don’t like to put a whole lot of water on the mash bed, so I try to keep it around 1-2 inches above the grain. Add the sparge water gently to the mash as to not disturb the bed too much. It also helps to put on the “Johnny Cash- live at San Quentin” album at this point, followed by opening a bottle of the special whathaveyou you were saving for a “special occasion”. Tasting a great beer as you are creating one can really drive home the peaceful feeling of not being in a federal penitentiary. It sure works for me. Hallelujah.
Stop the sparge a little before you get to your desired volume, and let the mash drain into the kettle.
Bring wort to a boil. Have handy a cold Belgian White Ale (Wit), some chipotle hummus, and rosemary olive oil bread (or you can use corn chips). If you have “the Slackers- Red Light” album, go ahead and put that on, and then grab your hops. (If you really care to hit the target gravity, do the following: remove a sample large enough to check the specific gravity. Measure as best as possible the total volume of wort collected in the kettle. At this point, cool the sample and check the gravity. Multiply the volume of wort by the gravity, then divide that by your target gravity. This will give you the final volume beer. It may be more or less than you thought, but the gravity will be right on the money!)
NOTE: There are a lot of different ways to hop a beer. This one gets a bittering hop only. That means that the total amount of alpha acids you add to the beer are the main concern. (The amount of hop below is for 8.6% alpha acid. Adjust your amount accordingly.)
Hop / Spice Additions (for 5 gallons):
Add 1.245 oz Centennial (alpha acid @ 8.6 %) time 0 for 45 IBUs
Let these boil for 1 hour. Then add the following:
.176 oz. Orange peel
.274 oz Curacao peel
.25 oz Coriander(fresh crushed/ground)
.011 oz Black Pepper (fresh ground)
I have the luxury of a triple-beam scale, which makes it easy to add small amounts. You probably don’t have that, so all I can say is do the best you can. If you can be precise, you will be much closer to the Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale. But if not, try this: Take a bottle crown (cap), and fill it with the dried orange peel until it is overflowing. Three of these make about .176 oz. (4.5 capfuls make about .274 oz.) It is a crude way to measure it, but better than guessing altogether. The coriander you will have to guess at, however. And the black pepper is about “a pinch”. Don’t go crazy with the black pepper. You can get a little crazy with the coriander, but not the black pepper! And use the fresh stuff. I ground it up from whole seeds in a coffee grinder until it was powdery.
After adding the above, stop the boil and stir it in a circle with a spoon to start a whirlpool. This will collect all of the solids in the center of the kettle, so you don’t move them into the fermenter (carboy) . While the whirlpool is settling, queue up some “Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys” as a little homage to Pierre Celis, the Belgian ex-pat who is credited with the revival of the Wit style in Belgium. He started Celis brewing in Austin, Texas in the late ‘80s, then Miller bought it and it was eventually shut down in December of 2000.
Wort Chilling and Yeast Pitching
Cool the wort to about 75ºF. Now is when you really have to be careful not to contaminate the beer. It is really easy to ruin a great beer by being careless. From this point on, sanitize everything that comes near the beer. Siphon from the side, not from the center, where all the solids are settled. I like to get half of the wort into the carboy and then shake the hell out of it. This helps to oxygenate the wort to promote yeast growth, and get a healthy fermentation. This halfway point is where I like to add the yeast. Use the White Labs (WL400?) Belgian Wit strain.
The Vertical Epic was fermented at 71ºF and fermentation took about 10 days. I remember tasting it early on and thinking the warmer fermentation might have made the beer a little phenolic (like a German Hefewiezen), but that character goes away after a couple of days in the secondary fermentation stage.
When the fermentation is over, let the beer sit for a couple more days (preferably in the secondary fermenter). Then decide how you are going to serve it. Kegging Rules! But for a beer like this, you may want to do the bottle conditioning to save a few bottles for the years to come. Of course, now that you have the recipe, I guess you can just make it when you want it!
Try your hand at brewing all of the Stone Vertical Epic Ales. Homebrew recipes for each can be found at: