Imperial Irish Cream Coffee Stout


Recipe for Chris Paynes’ Imperial Irish Cream Coffee Stout, as discussed and sampled in Chop & Brew – Episode 24: Basement Stout Fest. Thanks to Chris for sharing this recipe with the world. Check back for updated tasting notes as this big beer ages and we sample it throughout the year. All notes are Chris’.

Original Gravity: 1.085

Strike Water:
1.00 Crushed Campden Tablet

2.00 g Calcium Chloride dissolved in warm water
1.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) dissolved in warm water
0.125 lb Peace Coffee “Sumatran Italian Roast” (500.0 SRM?)
0.125 lb Peace Coffee Medium Roast “Birchwood Breakfast Blend” (400.0 SRM?)

*Grind fresh whole coffee beans using a coarse/french press setting. Grind no more than 90 seconds prior to using them and mix them in the mash with the grains.

Boil Kettle:
2.00g Calcium Chloride (Boil 90.0 mins)
1.00g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Boil 90.0 mins)
1.00 Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
0.75 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)
1.00 lb Milk Sugar (Lactose)
0.125 lb Peace Coffee “Sumatran Italian Roast” (500.0 SRM?) (15.0 min whirlpool)
0.125 lb Peace Coffee Medium Roast “Birchwood Breakfast Blend” (400.0 SRM?) (15.0 min whirlpool)

*Grind fresh whole coffee beans using a coarse/french press setting. Grind no more than 90 seconds prior to using them and thoroughly mix in wort during a hot whirlpool 190-205 F. Do not boil the coffee.

GRAINS: Original Gravity: 1.085
11.750 lb MC Irish Stout Malt (2.0 SRM) 61.84%
2.000 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (80.0 SRM) 10.52%
1.500 lb Brown Malt (Crisp) (65.0 SRM) 7.89%
1.500 lb Munich Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM) 7.89%
0.750 lb Black Malt (Simpsons) (550.0 SRM) 3.94%
0.750 lb Fawcett Pale Chocolate Malt (215.0 SRM) 3.94%
0.750 lb Roasted Barley (Crisp) (695.0 SRM) 3.94%

β-Amylase @ 148.0 F for 45 min
α-Amylase @ 160.0 F for 45 min
Mashout @ 168.0 F for 15 min

32.0 IBUs of Apollo @ First Wort 90.0 min
29.1 IBUs of Apollo @ 60.0 min
11.2 IBUs of Liberty @ 30.0 min
5.9 IBUs of Liberty @ 15.0 min

Wyeast Labs #1187 – Ringwood Ale / “Pripps Brewery, Sweden”

Jan. 9 – 1500mL starter with 0.75tsp of Yeast nutrient on stir plate. Jan. 13 – Crashed starter in the cooler. Jan. 27 – Decanted. Added 1200mL of fresh starter wort and 0.5 tsp of nutrient to yeast slurry and placed back on stir plate. Jan. 30 – Crashed starter for a second time. Feb. 1 – Decanted and added cooled wort from the brewday to the slurry. Placed on stir plate for 3 hours prior to pitching a krausening full starter volume into wort.

Aerate prior to pitching yeast and aerate again 12-18 after pitching yeast. Start fermentation in the mid 60’s and slowly raise temp to 72F after day 3-4.

*Proper aeration, a starter, nutrients, temperature ramping and a warm diacetyl are very critical for this yeast. Use a loose-fitting piece of aluminum foil as a cover instead of a carboy bung for the first few days of fermentation. This will allow the CO2 pressure to escape the carboy easier than an airlock. As soon as the krausen drops around day 3-4, place a sanitized bung and airlock on the carboy. If proper aeration and attenuation is a concern, I’ve had success with blending this strain 50/50 with a clean California Ale or Super San Diego yeast strain. The Cal Ale strain will finish up the work the Ringwood fails to do.

1.00 oz Whiskey Soaked American Medium Plus Toast Oak Cubes (Add in Secondary)
*At the end of your brew day, fill a small sanitized glass container with a quality Irish Whiskey of your choice. Fully submerge the oak cubes in the whiskey and place a lid on the container. Allow the oak cubes to fully absorb the whiskey in the container for at least 2 weeks. Fully decant the whiskey and wood particulates out of the container and dump the oak cubes into a secondary vessel or keg. Do not add the oak cubes during primary fermentation.

Post-Brew Day Thoughts from Paynes:

1. Coffee used in the mash will generally provide a noticeably lighter roast flavor and color than a Roasted Barley, Black Malt and other darker malts. So even if you used the highest coffee roast levels (Italian Roast and French Roast) be aware that roasted malts will provide a much more aggressive “roast” flavor desired for a stout. So I wouldn’t rely solely on coffee in the mash to provide all of your roast flavors.

2. Minor recipe modifications for next time: Up the bitterness by 10-15 IBU with the expectation that the bitterness will fade drastically with age. Also I would sub out the late dose of Liberty hops for a spicier, more aggressive and higher cohumulone level variety such as Czech Saaz or UK Bramling Cross.

See Chop & Brew – Episode 24 for initial tasting notes from Chris, Chip & Dawson.


April 25, 2014 (A month after shooting the episode):
We tasted this beer again and found the coffee flavor has dropped out a good bit. So maybe drink it early or brew with more percentage of coffee to last longer if you are going for more coffee notes. Vanilla is the dominating flavor and aroma mixed with some graham cracker and a good bit of whiskey. Still not a chugger, of course. Some notes also of apricot and roasted fruits.



  1. Fred

    It would be useful to know the target water profile or the base water used to try and match the mineral additions for locals. Cheers!

    • Good point. However, short of getting Paynes to pass all that along right away (which I will try to do), do a search for South Saint Paul’s water profile (MN, of course). I’m sure it’s publicaly available somewhere.

  2. Chris Paynes

    I use 100% South Saint Paul, MN Tap Water. I believe South Saint Paul water draws from the same location(s) as the majority of the eastern Saint Paul metropolitan area. That info can be found at and in more detail at

    With standard fluctuations in mineral content throughout the year I don’t get too caught up in the numbers, I tend to focus on the “main idea” of the water composition and add more or less of certain salts based on past brews. I basically have a general profile for light and dark ales and light and dark lagers. Long story short I guess I don’t have exact PPM to provide. Hope that helps!

    • Fred

      No worries, and thanks for the info. Your St Paul water isn’t quite as hard as we are in Toronto, so I will keep that in mind. Basically, I am thinking a bit less Calcium, and probably brew toward a basic dark profile.

      • Chris Paynes

        No problem, happy to help. If you do brew something similar let us know how it turns out with your water profile. I’m constantly having to tinker around with my Water Chemistry to deal with seasonal mineral fluctuations on top of moving around the metro area every couple of years. I’ll likely keep experimenting with the salts a little bit and try some source water upstream of our water softener for subsequent batches. Cheers Fred!

      • Dan Fick

        These fluctuations in the water are what prompted me to move to using RO water. This way my water is pretty consistent every time I brew.

  3. I’m interested to know the thinking behind such a long build up for the yeast starter, about 3 weeks from start to pitch. Also, when Chris crashes the starter for so long does he have it under an airlock and does he account for any losses in viability having stored it for that long? I’m just getting involved in yeast freezing/washing and would love another point of view!

    Keep up the awesome work Chip! Might have to get a shirt off you soon to rep CnB here in Australia!

    • I will try to get Paynes to check out your comment and respond. He may be out of town though right now, so it could be a minute. Thanks for the support!

    • Chris Paynes

      Excellent questions Matt, I will try to keep this as concise as possible without rambling. No promises though!

      I typically wouldn’t plan/need/want to stretch the process out over 3 weeks but I knew with the higher gravity and finicky Ringwood yeast that I wanted to do at least 2 steps from the fresh smack pack. To get all the steps done I needed to make my starter on Jan. 9 because I was going to be out of town from Jan. 10 to Jan 16. and I was lucky enough to have a roommate crash the starter for me while I was out of town. When I got back in town the brew day had to be postponed a few times due to frigid Minnesota winter weather. The initial plan was that the starter was going to get used in mid to late January but mother nature had other plans.

      I crashed the starter in the Erlenmeyer Flask with aluminum foil firmly covering the opening and a small plastic Ziploc sandwich bag over the foil. Since I’m creating a starter, building up sterols, using nutrient, leaving the yeast under a few inches of low alcohol unhopped beer at 34F/1C and using sanitary practices, I don’t worry too much about large viability losses over three weeks. If this was over a few months I would definitely need to factor in losses and make an appropriate starter from the harvested yeast to create sterols and replenish Glycogen reserves. The most important part of storing yeast that will be viable in the future is to ensure the yeast is dormant and stored in a healthy environment to diminish viability loses and potential autolysis.

      Under typical post fermentation conditions when there is a long term absence of fermentable carbohydrates left in beer the yeast will metabolize accumulated Glycogen carbohydrates in reserves within their cell walls to avoid starvation. This process is accelerated at ale temps, with exposure to oxygen, with agitation and with elevated trub levels. The Glycogen levels aid affect the cells ability to uptake nutrients, properly ferment and are critical during early stages of fermentation when it serves as a source of energy during sterol-synthesis. During the yeast crashing and storage stage it is essential to slow down the yeast metabolism so that glycogen reserves will be depleted at a slower rate.

      Sterols on the other hand are a very important component of the cell wall and are necessary for cell permeability. Permeability is important because it is what allows yeast cells to uptake nutrients and metabolites through its cell wall. Once the sterols are depleted during fermentation, new sterols must be created prior to subsequent fermentations. These new sterols are what oxygen from the yeast starter and lag phase from fermentation create; this is why I do the step starter and the 3 hour starter prior to pitching into fermentation.

      I hope some of this makes sense. Let me know if you have any further questions Matt!

      • Thanks for the response Chris! More than enough info there for me to chew on for a bit and apply to what I’m doing over here. Keep up the great work guys. Loving it!

  4. So much info. This is great. Thanks for a great episode, Chip. And thanks for the ultra-detailed follow-ups, Chris.

    • Chris Paynes

      Matt & Signpost01 – Not a problem I’m happy to clarify things as much as possible. Let me know if you have other questions that pop up later or if you brew something inspired by the recipe and techniques. Cheers!

Comments are closed.