Time for Beer

Double D’s Imperial Red Ale

It’s brew day again, and this time I tried something new . This is the first time I have brewed an Imperial Red Ale. I have been really enjoying full flavoured India and Imperial Red Ales lately. I would have to say my favourite is Canberra’s own Capital Brewing Company – Evil Eye Red IPA. If you ever find yourself at Canberra Airport, a schooner of this beer will make your flight much more bearable! I also worked through a four pack of McLaren Vale’s Fox Hat Brewing Co. – Red Pelt India Red Ale on ANZAC day and it was way too easy to drink.

Red Ales, and especially Red IPAs balance out rich sweet malt flavours with floral and fruity flavours from fresh
new-world hops. You pay the price for this in the Alcohol Volume. Most good Red IPAs pack a punch. The Red Pelt comes in at 7.8%, which is 2.4 standard drinks per can! Maybe some of you say “pfft” to this, but for me, 2-standard drinks and you’ve got me for the night. Red Ale is a style I have had on my list of things to brew for quite some time, and today was the day.

Double D’s Imperial Red Ale Recipe

Grain Bill

  • 2 kg Pale Ale Malt
  • 4 kg Maris Otter
  • 500g Crystal Malt
  • 500g Caramunich III malt
  • 190g CaraAroma malt
  • 50g Roasted Barley


  • 20g Willamette – 60 min
  • 14g Chinook – 40 min
  • 7g Cascade – 15 min (plus half tsp. of yeast nutrient and half a whirlfloc tablet)
  • 14g Centennial – 0 min
  • 30g Centennial – Dry hop


  • Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

Method to brew the Imperial Red Ale

  • Mash Temp – 66 degrees Celcius (60 min)
  • Ferment Temp – 20 degrees Celcius
  • Target Original Gravity (OG) – 1.072
  • Target Final Gravity (FG) – 1.014

Split Mash

I brew beer on a Brewzilla 35L Single-vessel system. This comes with limitations on the weight of the grain bill, which makes it hard to get the high levels of sugar extraction needed for high alcohol beers. I have pushed it to the limit in the past (filling it to the brim with 8.5kg of grain for a Trappist style beer) but the efficiency suffered greatly and it didn’t hit the required OG. Today I came in with a new plan that I am sure many have used before (no, I didn’t just bump up the gravity with Dextrose!).

In order to hit the Target OG (1.072) for this recipe, I decided I would try splitting the grain bill over two separate mashes. I had never done this before so I didn’t know if it was going to work, but I gave it a crack anyway! I wanted to avoid having to go all the way through the boil process before combining the two batches.

To complete my split mash, I transferred the wort from the first mash to my Digiboil Hot Liquor Tank whilst I mashed the second half of the grain. Then I used the first batch of wort to sparge the second. There is likely a term for this this method, it was kind of a “vorlauf”, but using a batch of wort that had already been separated and set aside. After running the first batch through the second, I added some sparge water to get as much of the sugars from the grain as I could, and also get the desired boil volume (27L). Once this was done, I discarded the spent grain and boiled the wort as normal.

Split mash technique for brewing an Imperial Red Ale
Transferring the first half of the mash to the HLT.
Double D's Imperial Red Ale wort
Sweet red wort in the mash tun.

The Result

To my surprise, everything went really smoothly. Using the split mash method extended my brew day by about 1.5 hours, but I hit my Target OG which I reckon was worth the extra time. Now Double D’s Imperial Red Ale is bubbling away in the fermenter ready to be dry-hopped and then kegged. I will update you once this big beer is ready to drink!

Subscribe to Time for Beer

Sign up for our monthly newsletter