Raven Pyre stout

The raven burns as the beer boils

The bird burned as the beer boiled

27 October 2013 AD

A chocolate stout.


While brewing, I came upon a dead raven in the yard. Given that I was planning this stout to be consumed on winter solstice, I took this to be a bad omen. This one at least, will not be available to make the journey into the other world to bring back the sun. So, I decided I would give him a proper sendoff.

Nevermore, my brother…



Grain Bill-

  • 10 pounds American 2-row malt
  • 1 pound crystal 120L (the brew store did not have 80L)
  • 12 oz roasted malt
  • 4 oz chocolate malt

Hop Bill-

  • 9.9 AAUs Northern Brewer
  • 5.3 AAUs UK Fuggle


  • White labs Irish Ale

Starter made with 1/2 c light extract to 1 pint of water

Mash schedule- simple infusion

I mashed in with about 4 gallons of water, enough to get the grains all wet. Mash and rests all went very smoothly.

  • Strike temp 130
  • Mash in to 124F.
  • 30 minute protein rest
  • Raised to 150F for a two hour sach rest


The sparge went… less smoothly

  • Unknown quantity of sparge water at 170F

About 5 minutes into the sparge, I heard a troubling sound. I looked up to see that the hose that ran from the sparge water bucket to the sparge arm had pulled out of the bucket and water was shooting into my garage from 7 feet up like a drunken droid pissing off the top of the stadium wall. I tried to reinsert the hose, but with the water at 170F, that proved difficult, and my options were limited. Fortunately, the bucket top that holds the sparge arm over the lauter tun has a big hole in it (for viewing I guess), so I was able to direct the pissing stream into the bucket until I could get the water level low enough in the water bucket to tilt the bucket and stop the stream. Then I reinserted the hose, but by this time I had lost a lot of water into the garage and run a lot of it in a rather haphazard way into the lauter tun.

I considered heating more sparge water, but by the time it got hot, the mash would have cooled down. So, I just decided to go with whatever liquid I had. I thought I would end up with a small volume, but it would be the heavier running so on the strong side. At the end, it did not turn out to make much difference.


S.g. was 1.043 or so at start of boil. Since I thought I would be short on liquid, I did not want a long boil. I boiled one hour, adding all hops at start of the rolling boil.

While the beer was boiling, I constructed a pyre to send off brother raven in a fitting manor.

Starting Gravity= 1.055

Pitched yeast starter just before bed. The starter was bubbling well before pitching. By morning, a vigorous fermentation had commenced, bubbling out of the blowoff tube in the spare bathroom. I don’t know why when I make stouts, the fermentation is vicious, but when I try to make other things, I have a hard time getting it moving.

2 thoughts on “Raven Pyre stout

  1. Some of my most frustrating brewing memories are due to the sparge hose coming loose. Sometimes it’s at the sparge bucket and sometimes it’s as it goes into the lauter tun. Either way you have hot water going every where, and I’m cussing.

  2. Tasted this stout on 23.11.2013. It had been in the bottle for two weeks. It is very tasty and I take back what I thought about it earlier. At bottling, I was not liking it. It seemed to have little body and tasted more like a brown than a stout. I also did not like the taste of the hops, which I had substituted due to the brew store not having what I wanted. It tasted overhopped and I did not like the aftertaste.
    However, after two weeks in the bottle, it has matured nicely. It has a good mouthfeel, and I am confident in calling it a stout. The bitterness is gone and it has a good flavor. A little undercarbonated, but hopefully another two weeks in the bottles will bump it up. The chocolate is understated, not dominating the flavor, but very evident in the nose. There still seems to be a slight aftertaste, but I did not notice it until the end of the glass, so I am hoping a bit more again will round that off. Overall, a nice beer.

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