Rogue Ales - XS Russian Imperial Stout
Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):87.5
Malts:2 Row Pale, Munich, Dark Crystal, Rolled Oats Black and Chocolate Malts
It's kind of an unofficial rule of the club that we like 75 cl. bottles, with a champagne-like wired stopper. But this is pretty good, too. In fact the Rogue Brewery created this bottle design specifically for the club. We like to have things especially for us, for club members to get things first. And in this bottle is a Russian Imperial Stout made in Newport, Oregon, and a very fine example of the style.
There are several quite different types of stout, and obviously the best known ones as exemplified by Guinness, Murphy's, or Beamish is dry stout. It's a type that you drink for a whole session, it's not that strong, and it's very well-hopped. There are sweet stouts like Mackeson's, that sometimes have lactose that gives it a creamy flavor. Then there is the very special category of Russian Imperial stout. Like IPA, it is a British style that has its beginnings in the industrial revolution. Great Britain had steam powered breweries very early on, even before railroads had been invented. You can make a lot of beer in a steam powered brewery, but how do you distribute it? Preferably by water, and if you are going to send the beer any distance, it's a good idea if the beer is quite strong, because it can look after itself.
Those very strong stouts make you feel quite warm, and are very popular in the northern countries of Europe. Imperial Russia was a great consumer of this type of beer. Catherine the Great, who some people said had made love to her horse, loved this kind of stout. You can have some quite interesting experiences, I suppose, if you drink enough of it.
Before the British export trade totally died, a ship taking this type of beer to St. Petersburg sank. In the 1970's some divers found the wreckage, found some beer in the ship, and sent it to Great Britain. The finding of the ship in the Baltic Sea led to quite a bit of re-exploration of this topic. I really became rather obsessed with it myself, and in my first book on beer back in 1977, The World Guide to Beer, wrote a chapter on this style. It's a style of beer that no one talked about for a very long time, and because of my writing about it, people started making it again.
This style is the biggest style of beer, I suppose, in terms of the combination of alcohol, body, and flavor. This particular example is by Rogue, which as a brewery as a whole goes for big, bruising beers. Their brewer is not that big a guy, but he just loves big beers and was the champion American homebrewer just before he turned professional with Rogue. They have had the same brewer, John Maier, throughout.
As evidenced by Catherine the Great it is possibly an aphrodisiac beer, certainly a very good beer for cold weather, a type of winter warmer. It's got quite a chocolaty character, so would be good with chocolate desserts. Or you could use this as an after dinner beer. It's very strong, over 11%, and though they did not use any wood in the preparation, it does have that sort of oaky character that you sometimes get in strong beers. The brewery does make a chocolate stout in addition to this, but this is very chocolaty, sappy, oaky, and warming with a lot of alcohol.
In a snifter it's a bit like a brandy with a head on it. A snifter is the right glass for the beer, it really focuses the aroma of a strong beer, and soothes me, soothes you, after dinner.
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