21% ABV Cause of Death Ale

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I’m going to stop by and see Mark, and see about getting a beer going that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Cause of Death is a recipe from Johnny Max of the Brewcrazy podcast. I’ll list the recipe below as well. It’s going to be a monster. If you’re interested in helping out, let me know, and I’ll try and nail down the dates that this will take place.

Cause of Death 21% ABV Old Ale

Recipe from Johnny Max from BrewCrazy.com (written by johnny max on 12/07/06) For what it is worth here is the procedure I used to brew my 21% ABV all-grain beer. It is still fermenting (when this was first written), but it hit 21% ABV last Thursday.

  • Make a 1 gallon starter @ 1.066 gravity in 6.5 gallon carboy (keep track of the gravity of your starter and volume as you will have to calculate it in with your wort to calculate you OG accuratly). I used WLP099 High gravity yeast. It can ferment to 25% ABV according to White Labs
  • Mash 31 lbs. of Maris Otter at 146 F overnight (or until conversion is complete)
  • Sparge very slowly until all sugar is extracted (I collected 18 gallons in two kettles).
  • Boil down wort to 4 gallons (I used two large pots) boil slow to reduce caramelization. I also put a clip on fan on each pot blowing on the surface of the wort. This eliminated boil overs (it really did, I don’t brew without one now) and caused the wort to boil down much faster by blowing the steam away. A better way to boil down is if you have a way to pull a vacuum while boiling it will take less than an hour and have zero caramelization. A friend of mine is a bee keeper and he is going to be getting one eventually. I can’t wait.
  • Add hops at last 60 Minutes of boil.

The final wort had an OG of 1.246, but combined with the Starter I had a calculated OG of 1.212

  • Added 1 gallon of wort to the 2 gallon starter
  • Oxygenate for 15 minutes minimum with O2 and affix air-lock. I use a welding oxygen cylinder I bought to used just for brewing (if you are just using air, airate for over 40 minutes).
  • Can the remaining 3 gallons of wort in 1 quart mason jars. Just siphon (so thick it siphons slow) wort into jars, set lids on lose and set in water bath and bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Then tighten lids.
  • Let ferment until fermentation slows.
  • After fermentation slows add one quart of wort each day and oxygenate for 3 to 5 minutes minimum with O2 or 9Â to 15 min with air. (The oxygenation is essential to keep the yeast population up to pass 20%)
  • Let ferment out.
  • When fermentation stops short (and it will) add 8 crushed Beano tablets to convert the nonfermentable sugars into fermentable ones. When fermentation slows add 5 more Crushed Beano tablets if needed. This is what I did, next time I will add the Beano much sooner, probably one day after I add the last quart of wort. It will shorten the time. Not sure when, but I did rack some time after I added the last quart of wort but before I added the Beano.


This list is the original list provided by Johnny, I’ll repost my changes and ingredients list later.

  • 31 lbs. Maris Otter Pale
  • 2 oz. Warrior (Pellets, 16.3 %AA) boiled 60 minutes.
  • 2 oz. Amarillo (Pellets, 9 %AA) boiled 60 minutes.
  • Yeast: White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity Ale

Now there is nothing special about the recipe. What is special is the procedure to get a 21% alcohol. You may want to use different grains to add more flavor and different hops, just pick a style. I picked Old Ale, but I hopped the hell out of it, hoping to balance the hop bitterness with the sweetness and high alcohol. My IBUs were 184 according to Beertools.com. I used Warrior and Amarillo because the AAs are so high and I like the hop flavor of Dogfish Head’s IPA. When you taste it, it does not taste too hoppy at all. I hope it comes out with age.

Things I would do different:

  • Add Beano a little sooner.
  • Add some grains that are a little more roasty

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