Beer Recipe: “Sochi Stout” Russian Imperial Stout

This is one of the big beers I brewed this past winter (I am resigned to brewing with the seasons until I get temperature control) during the Sochi Olympics.  It was disappointing watching the Americans go against the Maple Machine in hockeyand the subsequent implosion against the Finns—but I still thought it was an appropriate beer name.

I originally targeted this beer towards Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal.  I looked up five or six “clone” recipes, and roughly averaged their recommendations, throwing in a few tweaks of my own as I saw fit.  I’ve waited until now, about ten months later, to review it, to give it the proper respect for a beer of this size.  And, its heading into the perfect time of year to brew your own.

Batch Size: 5 gal/ 18.9L (post-boil volume)

Malt:
20lb/ 9.07 kg     2-row brewer’s malt (Briess)
1 lb/ 554 g          Crystal 60
1 lb/ 554 g          Chocolate malt
8 oz/ 230 g         Carafa III
8 oz/ 230 g         Honey malt
8 oz/ 230 g         Roasted barley

Hops:
0.9 oz/ 25.5 g     Magnum, 13.5%, 100 min, 29.5 IBU
1 oz/ 28.3 g          Challenger, 8.9%, 100 min, 21.6 IBU
0.75 oz/ 21.3 g   Challenger, 8.9%, 30 min, 9.2 IBU
Total IBU:           60.3 (Tinseth)

Yeast:
1.5 pkt                  Safale US-05 (rehydrated)

Other:
1 tsp                    Hydrated irish moss (10 min)
1/2 tsp               Wyeast nutrient
1 min x3            oxygen, 0.5 micron stone: at pitch, a few hours later, and next morning

Target CO2:     2.1 vol

Gravity:
OG:                    1.110 (65% mash eff; target 1.105, 62% eff)
FG:                    1.030 (72% apparent atten.)
ABV:                 11% after conditioning

Water:
Mash temp:          152F/ 66.7C (target 151.5F/ 66.4C)
Mash thickness: 1 qt/lb/ 2.1 L/kg
Single infusion mash, single (batch) sparge
Boil time:              100 min

Calculated Profile:

Calcium 67.2 Sulfate 72.4 Hardness 168
Magnesium 0.1 Chloride 60 Alkalinity 133
Sodium 73.8 Bicarbonate 160.2 RA 84

I was pretty happy with this water profile, save for the sodium content, which is just how my water is served up.  I adjusted the sulfate to chloride ratio for balance between the malt and hops.  I added the sparge calcium additions directly to the kettle instead of the sparge water.  (See my water treatment post here.) (This is still based off of an incorrect water report, so the sodium and alkalinity are both stated lower than they probably are).

Fermentation Temperature: I pitched at 60F/15.6C and tried my best to keep it in the low to mid 60’s by moving the carboy in and out of the house- not exactly the best method because of the temperature swings, but its not so huge of a deal .  Near the end of fermentation, I let it free rise before using a lamp to keep the brew cabinet at 78F/25.6C to drive the fermentation home and help with clean-up.

Tasting Notes:

"Sochi" Russian imperial stout

Sochi Stout. It seems to make whatever room its in darker…

Appearance: Pours deep black with short-lasting dark tan head- not surprising with the alcohol level.  Possibly a bit brown when held to the light, but its hard to tell.

Aroma: dark sugary sweet, slight roast

Taste: Luscious dark caramel with hints of sweetness fades to a lingering deep bitter roast; maybe a bit of dark fruit if you’re really looking for it; rough edges have mellowed since the 3 month tasting, but the lingering bitterness is still aggressive; otherwise pretty clean- the slight ester character also faded away since the last taste; slight vanilla as it warms

Mouthfeel: Warming, but not especially alcoholic; thick, but not syrupy or cloying

Overall: This is a very good beer.  If it had a bit more complexity, perhaps from a few toasted oak cubes (not whiskey-soaked), it could be great.  Also, I would replace some of the Brewer’s malt with some Vienna or light Munich to give it some extra character between the initial sweetness and lingering bitter roast, and pitch the full two packets of yeast, just for good measure.  I’m not sure (or overly concerned with) exactly how close it came to Narwhal as I haven’t had the opportunity to do a side by side tasting, but it does bear some resemblance from my memory of Narwhal.

– Dennis,
Life, Fermented

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About Dennis
Home brewer, home chef, garage tinkerer. Author of Life Fermented blog.

4 Responses to Beer Recipe: “Sochi Stout” Russian Imperial Stout

  1. Matt says:

    Awesome post. I just transferred my IRS to a whiskey barrel, going to let it sit for a few months before bottling.

    • Dennis says:

      Sweet! I’ve never used one, but I’ve heard you have to taste pretty often to make sure you don’t over-do it and end up with a whiskey oak bomb. I’m planning to just rack my next IRS brew (whenever that will be, maybe this winter?) onto maybe an oz or two of toasted oak cubes. Barrels are much more unpredictable than I want to be with a non-sour beer. That being said, I think it would be really cool to age one in a red wine barrel to get a bit of vinous fruit into the flavor mix…

      • Matt says:

        I don’t have experience with barrels myself but a friend of mine had this exact barrel and he said it takes a couple of months to get it right. I just transferred two days ago so I’ll let it sit for 6 weeks and then take a sample. I am going to brew an Old Ale and when I drain the IRS from the barrel I’ll refill with the Old Ale…then if it is still going an English Barleywine…it will evenutally be a sour barrel I imagine, hoping to get a few uses first though.

      • Dennis says:

        Huh, I’m surprised it takes that long unless its a used barrel. Either way, I am jealous, especially when you decide to turn it sour- I’ve just been getting into those as much as I can lately.

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