This is my first time brewing this recipe on the new equipment and larger batch size. So far things look promising. My pre-boil gravity was where it should be or even a bit high because I calculated for an extra 0.25 gallons of loss to trub when transferring from the kettle to the fermenter. Due to using a hop bag, reading many discussions, and playing around myself I do not have enough trub to bother attempting to hold much liquid back. Some gets held back due to not being able to quite get it through the pump and poured into my fermenter, but less than 0.25 gallons for sure.

Cold winter temperatures may have also reduced my boil off rate, although not likely by much since this was still a vigorous boil.

Preboil SG: 1.067

Original gravity: 1.083

Final gravity: 1.016

Volume in Fermenter: 5.75 Gallons

Mash process:

Grains were added at about 156F with a target mash temperature of 150F for 75 minutes. With 18.5 Lbs of grain I was not able to do a full volume mash, so after filling the kettle to my target volume of just over 8.5 gallons I transferred 3 gallons to a separate kettle to use for a dunk sparge. As can be seen in the images below, this just barely fit in the grain basket. I also accidentally did not put my grain bag inside the grain basket, so dunk sparging was out. I instead let the grain basket sit over the kettle for an extended period and drain naturally while slowly heating the water to boiling with only the single 1650 watt heating element. During that time I also used my Hot Rod Heat Stick to heat the sparge water to between 180F and 200F. I was confident in the starch conversion and so just wanted to rinse the sugars back into my wort while not slowing down the rise to boiling very much without a whole lot of concern over denaturing enzymes. This was the first time I actually had a hose on the recirculation barb (the kit was supposed to come with one, but did not) to allow the wort to swirl around the lip of the grain basket and evenly spread. I do not know if this was the cause or not, but during mashing the grains foamed up a lot and it was only luck which allowed me to see it before it spilled out everywhere. As it was, the foam was just starting to push out under the lid and drip down the sides of the kettle.


I pitched 22 grams or two packets of US-05 yeast at around 66F later in the evening. I normally use US-05 for this because it is a very clean fermenting American ale yeast which works well and is relatively inexpensive, so a low temperature fermentation works well in place of using a lager yeast. In this case, I also had packets of US-05 already on hand and so was able to save a few dollars at my lhbs. I set my temperature controller to 65F, which in these colder winter temperatures and with ice in the fermentation chamber means I was fermenting at about 64F with an occasional heat to about 65F and then cooling back down to 64F. I maintained 64F for around 72 hours or a bit over. Krausen just started to form after 12-18 hours. After around 48 hours I had a solid layer of krausen which was 2-4 inches thick and lasted for another 2-3 days. After the initial low temperature fermentation from Saturday night until Wednesday morning I slowly increased the temperature up to 70F by the following Saturday morning. By Friday morning most of the krausen had fallen but there was still a lot of yeast in suspension on Sunday.


I checked the gravity on Friday the 18th with readings between 1.015 and 1.016, right where this was expected to finish. Uncarbonated, warm, taste tests were promising. The fennel was a bit strong and I'm not sure I tasted enough chocolate, but that is always the case until this beer gets some age on it for the fennel to mellow out. On Saturday the beer got put into a keg with about 85 grams of table sugar for carbonation. It is now going to sit indoors for at least month to mature.


The beer finally went on tap this weekend after finishing the last of Trogdor's Quadruple X (2021-10-30). The fennel is still pretty strong even after three months of aging. My recipe had the fennel seed in Tsp rather than grams for some reason (and still does, because I don't learn). It did not specify if that was Tsp whole seeds or ground seeds. I went with ground. I am thinking the measurement was whole seeds.

Style Details

1.060 - 1.090 1.016 - 1.024 20 - 40
17 - 30 srm

Batch Details

Brewed OnPackaged OnOn Tap DateOriginal GravityFinal GravityColor
Feb. 5, 2022 Feb. 19, 2022 May 14, 2022 1.083 1.016
32 srm