Russian Imperial Stout – TAPPING.



Craig Gardone recently brewed a big beer (9%ABV) at Gordon Biersch Restaurant and Brewery with head brewer, Nicholas Landers.  Nicholas plans to release this beer in early March at the 4th Street brewery and will most likely have a keg at Tailspin Alefest March 7th.  Some of this beer may even make it into a barrel to be tapped later in the year.

Craig earned the chance to brew at Gordon Biersch by beating out other entries from the Lagers Homebrew Club in the annual competition.  The winning beer was brewed back in October as cooler weather inspired the need for warmer beer.  Craig also split this batch into a version with vanilla extract & oak chips, and one with freshly roasted coffee.

Craig’s 5 gallon lantern. And perhaps bourbon.

Inspiration.  According to Craig, he has a personal moratorium against drinking Hefeweizen and other wheat beers in winter.  Those are summer beers he shuns from October to April in order to make room for the seasonally appropriate selections.  Craig loves a good wheat beer or a Classic American Pilsner, however the light body has no place when he only has a few hours of daylight to work with.  Once there is frost on the ground Craig says, “I am thinking about the heartier cold weather beers like Stouts, Scotch Wees, and Barleywines.  If it gets cold enough, I make ice lanterns in 5 gallon buckets and sit outside on my back porch in the sub-freezing weather and enjoy something that keeps me warm inside.”

Craig’s Taste Description.  With the heavy roast and chocolate malts, this beer has obvious coffee notes in the aroma and flavor.   Chocolate is a secondary flavor.  The beer has a silky mouthfeel from good carbonation and rich body.  This stout is well balanced without being too over the top on anything.  Keeping the black patent down has eliminated the aggressive finish  found in some stouts.  A touch of sweet from the caramel malts come through like taking a sip of a macchiato.  Craig believes big beers should be fermented to completion without being cloyingly sweet.  “You should be able to finish one without feeling like you need to look for an insulin booster…  CaraMunich gives it a nice rich head, adding to the visual appeal.”  As a Russian Imperial Stout this beer has some alcohol warming.  It’s winter after all!

Recipe.  Lots of Breiss 2-Row Barley.  Roast, Biscuit, Chocolate, Munich, Cara-Munich and Crystal.  A dash of Black Patent.  Warrior, Fuggles, East Kent Goldings and Hallertau to provide balance (54IBU) to the malt build.

Look for notices on the tapping party at Gordon Biersch in early March.  Nick is not sure he will use Craig’s working name for the beer, “Alpha Q-Up!”.  Drink a couple and try to say that name a couple times fast.