January Homebrew Tasting night ~ Russian Imperial Stout

Last Sunday night, I hosted Wellington Hombrew Tasting in the cozy lounge of Hashigo Zake. It’s been over 1 year since the first one.
We had about 10 people confirmed on internet, but as the weather was pretty bad we had 6 people came along. However, it was a quiet, but interesting and little bit exciting homebrewed beer tasting.

We tasted, Berliner Weiss 2.8%, Just Ale 4%, NZ Pilsner 6%, 2 NZ IPAs 6% and my Russian Imperial Stout 12%.

Actually, Berliner Weiss was the beer of the night we thought. It was very sessionable beer and had a great tart flavour, which almost reminds me some kind of citrus fruits like lemon, but not too much. It would be a great beer to drink under the sun, Good times!

Just Ale was quite interesting beer, didn’t have much character to it, but the following NZ Pilsner was fantastic. The brewer brought Imperial Pilsner in the past. It was 8% fruity Pilsner. It was easy to drink. Surely that guy know how to brew Pilsner!

Both NZ IPA were nice, one of two was actually his first ‘Contract Hombrew’. And another was ‘Contract Homebrewed’ at my place.

We had my Russian Imperial Stout at the end. I mentioned them that it was very young. I just bottled a day before Christmas eve. As I expected it smelled alcoholic and some people didn’t enjoy the aroma that much, but what saved me was that they liked the taste. Cool!

They agreed on me bringing the same beer in the next homebrew tasting to see how it will mature. I actually might save it for NHC 2012 in October. Stronger beer lasts long.

Here’s the recipe of Russian Imperial Stout I brewed.

8.00 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (5.9 EBC) Grain 1 62.5 %
1.00 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (157.6 EBC) Grain 2 7.8 %
1.00 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC) Grain 3 7.8 %
0.50 kg Carafa II (811.6 EBC) Grain 5 3.9 %
0.50 kg Black Barley (Stout) (985.0 EBC) Grain 4 3.9 %
0.10 kg Peat Smoked Malt (5.5 EBC) Grain 7 0.8 %
0.20 kg Smoked Malt (17.7 EBC) Grain 6 1.6 %
50.00 g Pacific Gem [15.00 %] – Boil 100.0 min Hop 9 66.6 IBUs
30.00 g Pacific Gem [15.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 12 13.4 IBUs
20.00 g Pacific Gem [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 10 24.7 IBUs
50.00 g Target [11.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 11 16.4 IBUs
40.00 g Target [11.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs
1.50 kg Invert Sugar (0.0 EBC) Sugar 8 11.7 %’

And this is the learning from the brew day.

It was almost twice the usual amount of grain I use for brewing and I was checking the gravity as I was sparging the mash. It was shocking. Even though I had so much grain, the pre-boil gravity was 1.054. I remembered a guy who’s been homebrewing for long time and know us beer-guru in Wellington, Kieran from Regional Wines and Spirits talking about over night mash for his Barley-wine. I soon posted on Facebook bitching about my low gravity from 11.3kg grain and said I should have done the over night mashing. A minutes after Kieran, Joe Wood from Liberty Brewery and Chris Poel, head brewer of Baird Brewery in Japan started commenting on my post!! Seems like I have few friends in high places.

From their over 30 comments I found out the following.
– brew efficiency drops significantly if I use more grain than usual, because more grain in the same shape mash-tun means thicker filter
– adding sugar to boost up the ABV is fine as long as I get enough flavour from the malt

That is why there is 1.5kg sugar included in the recipe above.

I still find that brew day was interesting, exciting and funny me getting worried so much about the low-gravity wort and professional brewers started helping me through. Facebook nailed!

About Shiggy
Working at Hashigo Zake currently. Homebrewing since 2010, got into brewing straight after and brewed 36 different beers in 12 months.


  1. Looks like a big beer, and a good night!

    How often are you going to do these?

  2. You mean Homebrew Tasting? I run this every 2 months at Hashigo Zake. Next one is on 2nd Sunday in March. I usually post it on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington-Homebrew-Tasting/153593614688475

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