It’s officially that time to start thinking about Russian Imperials.
In The Summer Time?
Yea, this is the time to make Russian Imperial. The reason why you want to make your Russian Imperial stout now is because they take so long to mature. Making a big beer now gives plenty of time for them to age and still be able to drink them at least by the end of the winter.
The history behind this beer is pretty cool in my opinion. Like most beers, there is a story behind this one. The story behind Russian Imperial stouts is that Catherine The Great of Russia was very partial to darker beers. She would order them in large quantities again and again from London. She would drink them and give them to the military that was fighting in Germany as well as colonist that were in Sierra Leone and Botany Bay.
When I first started looking into this beer, I always thought that the Russian Imperial beers were high for in gravity so they wouldn’t freeze and high in hops which were are a natural preservative so that they could travel to Russia from London. Without a doubt, I’m sure that the recipe was created with some consideration in mind to that traveling but, this beer was also served in warmer places…odd. That made my conclusion go towards that Russians maybe just like big beers, who knows? Regardless of the back story it is neat to make a style of beer that Catherine the Great would approve of.
So without any more delay, here is a Russian Imperial Stout recipe. And for all-grain brewers feel free to check out our conversion chart.
Russian Imperial Stout
Yield: 5 Gallons
12 oz 60L Crystal Malt
12 oz Chocolate Malt
4 oz Roasted Barley
3 oz British Black Malt
11 lbs Golden Light DME
1 lb Corn Sugar
2 oz Target Hops (60min)
.5 oz Target Hops (45min)
.5 oz Target Hops (5min)
White Labs Irish Ale 004 or Saf 04
- Heat 3 gallons of water up to 150 and steep grains
- Steep for 30 minutes then take out grains
- Add 11 lbs of malt extract and 1 lbs of corn sugar
- Bring to boil
- In beginning of the boil add 2 oz of target hops
- Boil for 15 min
- Add .5 oz Target hops
- Boil for 40 min
- Add .5 oz target hops
- Boil for 5 min
- End boil, cool down, put in fermenter, pitch yeast
Notes About This Beer:
This beer will mellow out in flavors over time it can keep at cellar temps for up to 2 years. As far as when you can drink it I would recommend that you start to have your first bottles after 6 months. It probably will start to be pretty good around 8 months. Since it is such a big beer, you really want to allow some time for it to mellow out and for the flavors to mesh well together.
Having a beer this big you will want to double pitch your yeast or have a pretty big starter. Either one, there is a lot of fermentable sugars and the yeast will lag out if you don’t give it help. It still might lag out towards the end and if that is the case, consider pitching champagne yeast to help dry it out a bit. Use that as a last resort though.
I should tell you though, the world of high OG beers is one that is not my forte. I have customers that own this style realm, I am just a visitor. I generally don’t make a lot of them – usually I’m on the other end of the spectrum. So personally, it will be a nice to get one going and have it ready by winter season to share with friends and family.
Hope you enjoy.