Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Imperial Stout on my mind

As is probably clear from this blog one of my favourite styles is Russian Imperial Stout. In an ideal world my cellar would be over flowing with them, however the best I usually achieve are a couple of vintages of my own and the odd bottle of Pink Elephant Rushin Imperious. However recently I have had two very exciting additions.

The first came from the left over stocks of beer from the NZIBA, and came in the form of a new world hop charged Rogue Imperial Stout. It seems so American to present an 11% abv beer in a huge 750ml serve. I tried the beer during judging and it was impressive and very definitely wore its American hopping on its sleeve.

The second addition to the cellar has come in the form of a bottle of 2003 Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout lovingly carried back from the UK for me in Greig’s suitcase. A classic of the style and perhaps the closest to Courage RIS I will ever get to try, I’m going to cellar it a while longer before I try it.

Of course putting beers into the cellar makes up the will power part of the process, however there is also the very enjoyable ritual of pulling out a bottle when the time seems right. Recently I pulled one of my precious few bottles of the first ever all grain batch of Merchant of the Devil. Brewed in January 2006 I was playing with ‘spiking’ big beers with Champaign yeast at the time. Primary fermentation was with s-04 and then the wine yeast was added to the secondary fermentor where The Merchant sat for 6 weeks before being primed and bottled. For the first 18 months the beer exhibited a slightly funky estery character from the Champaign yeast and an enthusiastic condition, however as she has aged The Merchant has mellowed significantly. At two and a ½ years she is warming, rich, smooth, and complex. It’s a tragedy that there is only one more bottle left.


Anonymous said...

I must have a chat to you about process here. I've got an imperial stout sitting in my lounge bubbling away which I brewed up 8 days ago and for which I used saf05, billed as able to ferment to a pretty high alc content and known for its ability to just keep on eating, if given the chance. the beer started at 1108, and fermentation has gone nicely by the smell of it, with the temperature beginning quite like (pitched at 16C and having risen to 20c which strikes me as ok). anyhow, i'm sorta beginning to now wonder whether i ought to just leave it in the fermenter until it really looks like it has finished and then bottle, perhaps without priming sugars, and leave for however long (minimum 1 year i guess, though will taste the odd bottle of course). another method might be to put it in a 11litre carboy with a cork and airlock and leave that for a year and then bottle WITH some priming sugars. any thoughts?

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I'm a big believer in letting them sit for a good six months before bottling, however I do that in corny kegs. The batch that I brewed in November still hasn't been bottled (due to procrastination more than anything). I think without having the capability to have it sit in stainless I would wait till you were confident that primary had ceased and bottle with a slight priming.

Come down tonight Ed if you are free, I have Hall St Porter and Berhampore Best on and Greig is down from Hamtown.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately i needed an early night last night - work very busy and there was football to watch this morning! i didn't actually see your comment until now (fri morn) though i did think about coming down anyway....but then i thought that on the 3rd thursday of the month you go to regionals? obviously not.....

thanks for the advice re imperial stout. i think i probably am leaning towards what you say - bottle more or less straight away once primary has completely settled. the other alternative - because it is only an 11L batch - was to get one of those small glass demijohns they sell at the homebrewshop and put it in there for six months to a year with a cork and an airlock. but that would require me to actually go out there to the Hutt and not sure when that'll happen.

Dan said...

Ah the temporal nature of the beer wonder! The many time-separated tastings of the Merchant I partook in.. the changing nature of the beasty.. and now only one bottle left.