So, confession time: I've never brewed a Russian Imperial Stout. I had planned on brewing one a few years ago, but for whatever reason, I pushed out the brew day. Then for some other reason, I never got around to brewing it. With winter approaching, I figured it was finally time to get around to making a big, massive, roasty stout.
I pieced this recipe together between looking at some of the NHC winning recipes, and looking at my 6-7% ABV stouts that I've liked. I added a nice healthy amount of Munich for some maltiness, and spread the roasted grains out between a couple different types. The idea was that Chocolate malt and Carafa would give a more chocolate-like character than Roasted Barley alone. There's a little Crystal for some sweetness, and I a big healthy dose of Apollo hops to bitter with. In the end, I'd like to think I ended up with a relatively uncomplicated RIS recipe.
Brew day went really well. It was a pretty thick mash, but I didn't have any issues. I boiled this for 90 minutes, and started to chill it immediately after flameout. I ended up with a shade under 5.5 gallons in the fermenter at 1.102. I hit this with 90 seconds of O2, and pitched a 3-4L starter of WLP090.
Lesson time: Don't brew a 1.100+ RIS before leaving town for three days. I brewed this on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Kristen and I then took off to California to spend Turkey-day with her family. Despite keeping the fermentation temps low and using a blow-off tube....ya.... I came home to a bucket that was on the verge of exploding, and a couple cups of blow off on the bottom of my fridge. Thankfully the lid never blew, and after a little clean-up, everything was fine.
10oz Roasted Barley
10oz Chocolate Malt
8oz Carafa III
8oz English Medium Crystal
Mash @ 152
1.75oz Apollo @ 90
.75oz Apollo @ 15
WLP090 - Super San Diego
Fermentation wrapped up after roughly 6-7 days, and I left this in the primary for another few days to finish up before racking it in a keg to rest in. It spent another 2 weeks in a keg before I finally dropped it in the kegerator to carbonate.
So I actually still have this beer on tap, and I have to say, it turned out really, really nice. It was very good after a couple weeks, but it's excellent now after a few months. The aroma is deep rich roasted malts with lots of chocolate and raisin aromas, and no real hop aroma to note. The appearance is a thick viscous jet-black with a thick tan head. The flavor definitely follows the aroma with a smooth roast character, lots of chocolate flavors, and a full finish. Fermentation character is super clean, which is something I was worried about considering the big blow-off. I wouldn't call the beer sweet, but rather full, for lack of a better word.
Anyway, ya. This turned out to be a damn good RIS. I'd like to play around with this recipe in the future with some vanilla, chocolate, or coffee, but for now I'm happy to say I have a nice stock RIS recipe.