We put out a call to other homebrewers to send their beers to us for evaluation and review. Since then, we have had many different beers sent our way. This one is number twenty three of the ongoing series of homebrew swaps. We tasted this Russian Imperial Stout from Brian in Texas and posted our thoughts on YouTube:

Zorya Russian Imperial Stout Recipe

Brian’s home brewery is named Big Paw Brewery and he’s been brewing this RIS for a few years now. He brewed two different versions of his 2017 batch. Here are the details of the beers:

10 gallon batch – split into two and aged separately on two different kinds of oak.

Original Gravity: 1.094
Final Gravity of the Hungarian Oak version: 1.019
Final Gravity of the American Oak version: 1.017

IBUs ~70

80% Maris Otter Malt
4% Special B Malt
4% Flaked Barley
3% Carafa III
2% Aromatic Malt
2% Crystal 40°L Malt
2% Roasted Barley
1% Black Patent Malt
1% Crystal 120°L Malt
1% Chocolate Malt

Added Styrian Golding, Perle, and Magnum hops at 75 minutes to go in the boil for 64 IBUs
Added Centennial, Styrian Golding, Williamette, and Palisade hops in whirlpool after the boil for 10 minutes for 6 IBUs.

Yeast: White Labs WLP001 California Yeast – fermented for 1 month

For fermentation, he split the batch into two different vessels. In the last 14 days of primary fermentation, he added to each of the vessels 1 ounce of medium toast Hungarian Oak cubes that had been soaking in 12 ounces of Port wine for 3 weeks (he added the wine along with it).

At the end of primary fermentation, he racked the beers into two different kegs and oaked them again for 1 month. The first beer had more medium toast Hungarian oak (1 ounce) and the second one had American oak (1 ounce).

He removed the oak and let both beers condition for an additional 10 months at 55° F and bottled it from the keg.

Beer Feedback and Thoughts

Let’s split the notes into two sections.

Hungarian Oak: Had a slightly darker head. More port wine in the aroma. Big mouthfeel but not as slick as its counterpart. More port character in this beer’s flavor.

American Oak: More roasted/chocolate malt aroma. There was a fuller, slicker, chewier mouthfeel in this beer. More vanilla notes in the flavor. More character from the malt bill.

Both beers hit the mark when we compared it to the BJCP style guidelines. The flavor was complex and intense. Our biggest suggestion was to simplify the recipe to focus the flavors on what he wanted to accomplish in the final beer.

The best thing about brewing the same recipe over and over again is the ability to modify and improve over time. That’s what it is all about and why we say…

Brew On!