This will be a relatively small update on this giant beer. If you don’t know about this beast, you should read previous posts about it first.
I finally racked PROOF to secondary on June 30, three days past a month after brew day. I also took a gravity sample and was a little disappointed to see that it was still at 1.030, the same it had been when I stopped the sugar additions. This puts it at about 16.9% ABV. I added a packet of Champagne yeast when I racked the beer. I haven’t seen any signs of fermentation since, but I’ve been surprised by wine yeast in the past. I don’t have much experience with it, but the little I do tells me that it’s much harder to tell what is going on purely by visual inspection of the fermenter.
I was unsure of how much volume I actually had, so I racked PROOF into a six gallon carboy. It is right around the five gallon mark, though, so I’ll be racking it again shortly. It is going to be sitting for quite a while yet before it is bottled and I don’t want that much head space, so it will be going into a five gallon carboy within the next week.
There were a ton of gravity samples taken while I was feeding the beer brown sugar, but I dumped them all back into the batch, carefully sanitizing everything before and after. This time, I was not going to add the sample back into the fermenter. This was my first good taste of the beer and I have to say, I was pretty surprised.
For as disappointed as I was that the gravity hadn’t dropped at all, I was pleased infinitely more with how the beer tasted. My immediate thought upon the first sip was that this tasted like a really good doppelbock. Yes, it was much hotter. The alcohol is evident. Very evident. But this thing has malt flavor for days, too. I think that the separate boil, caramelizing a small portion of the wort made a huge difference. The grist was all pale malt and light Munich, but the beer tastes like it has a lot of darker malts. Despite the alcohol burn, it is very clean. That may sound strange, but I’m referring more to fermentation character, or in this case, the lack of fermentation character. There were notes of schnapps and brandy but they were all coming from the huge ABV. On top of all that alcohol, this is still beer. A big, clean, malty beer. It definitely tastes like some relative of the bock family of beers. A belligerent, drunk cousin, maybe, but still family.
My original plan was to dry hop this beer like mad. I’m rethinking that now, though. I plan to age it for a good long time, so after the first few bottles the hops will probably be extremely faded and I just don’t think it’s necessary. I’m going to rack it again soon and give it at least another month, but I don’t think I’m going mess with it anymore before bottling.
2014 PROOF is going well and it’s giving me all kinds of ideas for the next iteration, which I planned for 2016, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait that long.