Semper Fi Sarge


Coincidently, I am putting up the recipe and tasting for my Semper Fi Sarge (Imperial Stout) on the 235th birthday of the Marines.  I wanted a big strong stout that had a bite to it, one that after a few drinks, you know it’s going to kick your ass.  My grandfather was a Marine who fought in World War II and also the Korean War.  His nickname for me growing up was “Sarge”, so this beer was dedicated to him.

Date of Initial Brew: 9/12/10

Type of Beer: Oak Aged Bourbon and Vanilla Imperial Stout

Name of Beer: Semper Fi Sarge

Extract or All Grain: All-Grain

Grains used: 20lbs American 2 row, 3 lbs Chocolate Malt, 1.5 Roasted Barley, 2 lbs Cara 60L, 8 oz Victory Malt, 4oz Black Patent

Hop Schedule: 1oz Chinook (60), 1oz Chinook (30), 1 oz Amarillo (15)

Spices Used: 12 oz Molasses (5), 1 cup bourbon vanilla sugar 1 vanilla bean (primary), 1 vanilla bean (secondary), Makers Mark 46 oak aged (4 roses) bourbon barrel chips (secondary)

Yeast: 2 x American Ale

Original Gravity Temperature and Reading: 1.14 @

Secondary Fermentation Date:  9/18/2010

Specific Gravity Temperature and Reading: 1.028 @ 70

Bottling Date: 10/7/10

Final Gravity Temperature and Reading:

ABV%: 14.7%

Hands down, imperial stouts are my favorite types of beers.  With winter on the horizon, I wanted to make a huge stout that would be the second in my bourbon barrel series.  Kelvin’s Kilt Scotch Ale proved to be a success and I wanted to see if I could strike lightning (is that the phrase?) twice.  When I researched for a recipe to use, I immediately found myself looking at 3 Floyds Dark Lord clones or tastings to get an idea of what type of grains and flavors I wanted to add.  I know I wanted bourbon, but I wanted some vanilla as well.  I soon came to found out that ingredients for this recipe and vanilla beans weren’t on the cheap end of the price range.  Grains and hops were around $70 and then I went on the search for vanilla beans.  I found one at one establishment and it was like $10, I splurged and bought it.  I then went to another store and found them for $5. Vanilla Fail.

Along with the vanilla, I soaked the Four Roses oak chips in Makers, but Makers 46.  Makers 46 is Makers Mark which is taken out of its original barrel and then oak staves are placed into the beer to give it an oakier taste.  To me, Makers Mark is better than 46.  We recently actually did a tour at Makers and I’ll attach some pics as well.  Along with the bourbon, I also threw in some molasses and some bourbon vanilla sugar into the boil.   One vanilla bean went into the primary and one went into the secondary as well.  Next time I will do both in the secondary.  This was also the first time I used a double shot of yeast since it was such a big beer.

The trub from the beer was nasty, I’m sure the bugs in the compost pile loved it.  I was debating on how long to actually leave the beer in the secondary and asked around.  I knew it wasn’t going to get any stronger because the amount of bourbon I had added.  Let’s just say I dumped the big lot (like a breakfast bowl full of shredded wheat, original flavor…not that blueberry shit) into the secondary.  After three weeks of sitting, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to bottle it.  I opened the lid and took a big whiff and almost passed out from the sudden rush of booze. 

I knew with it being a stout that it would need time to mature.  I waited two weeks. Not ready. 1 more week. Still not ready. 1 week. Bingo.
The beer pours a blackish color with strong smells of bourbon and vanilla.  The molasses gives it a subtle thickness.  The flavor of the beer reminds me of Goose Islands Bourbon County.  There is a nice brown head that sticks with the beer after a few sips and then finally dissipates into oblivion.  The beer is very smooth sipping and the bourbon is strong, but not overwhelming.  I’m going to hide some of the bottles and put them away for many years to come.

Semper Fi Sarge

About johnking82

Homebrewer, Runner, Educator.... Giddy as a kid on Christmas about good beer.
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8 Responses to Semper Fi Sarge

  1. Harry Landers says:

    My mother was a Marine. I was born in the Chelsea Naval Hospital. I’m told that her Marine buddies called her “Two-Beer Devitt”. I’ve got a feeling it would’ve only taken one bottle of Semper Fi Sarge to put her away and I’m not sure that her son would hold up any better. But, he wouldn’t mind trying.

  2. Beau says:

    Sounds amazing. A good RIS/Impy Stout is the only style that jumps ahead of IIPA in my favorite beer list and Goose Island BCS is one of my favorites in that style.

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  8. Chris Nall says:

    I am going to try and brew that recipe. I am on my 3rd home brew batch now and pretty stoked about the new hobby.

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