Friday, 4 September 2015

Notes from the Cellar: Russian Imperial Stout 2013

It's a cold, near-autumn day in Alberta. Grey skies and black beer.

I know I have not yet accumulated a large viewership on this blog, but I still feel guilty when I haven't posted in a while. I know that on days that I'm looking for beer stimulation I get a little frustrated when my favorite blogs haven't updated in a while, so I apologize for the delays. Work has been finished up, I'm wrapping up my last courses for the summer, and I'm rearing to brew a whole bunch of beer in the coming weeks.

Consider this a bit of a placeholder, then. An aperitif to what I hope is a barrage of frequent posts over the months of September and October. I have bottled my berliner ryesse with the addition of lemon zest and grains of paradise, I am pressing crab apples and making batches of crab apple wine with champagne yeast and a cider with 100% Brett (a new strain I isolated from a bottle of cuvee renee), I've got a 100% Wyeast Brett lambicus red wine on my list, and of course several batches of beer, as my summer has all but chewed through my stocks. More empty bottles mean more batches I can make! In the meantime, I have had this - my first RIS - sitting in my basement for ages, and I decided to pull out a dusty bottle and see how it has changed.

Originally, I remember this beer coming out overly fruity - almost like a barleywine. It was between the dark crystal malt, the warm fermentation temperature and an ambitious ABV that caused it to be less roast and more wine. I was hoping that with time this fruitiness would fade and yield a smoother RIS.

10% ABV, 60 IBU's

Appearance: Pitch black, very persistent tan coloured head despite the high ABV.

Aroma: Caramel, fruity fusels, apples, coffee, leather.

Flavor: Immediately fruity, showing that same sort of fusel and fruit like red wine. Roast comes second to the fruit, and comes as at first like black coffee but deepens into a more firm, dark roast. Finishes with leather and nut alongside the roast, a bit of oxidation? Strong bitterness balanced by sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Moderate-low carbonation, thick mouthfeel, lingering bitterness.

Overall: Kind of reminiscent of red wine and dark chocolate. The fruitiness did not fade very much at all, so I can duly note that fusel fruitiness does not fade as ester fruitiness fades. I still have 3 bombers of this beer, but I don't feel that they should be held onto much longer as they don't show signs of improvement. I think this will be a brew to redo come the winter - lower ABV, more roasted grains, and cold slow fermentation.

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