After making an oatmeal stout I wanted to up the ante a little and brew a new Russian Imperial stout. Last year's RIS the Beard of Zeus was well received, although it didn't do as well in competition as I had hoped. I have, however, noticed that in recent months it seems to have improved and perhaps it merely needed some aging to improve its standing. Whatever the case, I wanted to move in a different direction with my newest Imperial. I wanted to scale back the raisiny, plum-like flavours of the Beard and emphasise more rum and chocloate. I also wanted a bigger hop presence and a bigger beer in general, something that cracked the 10% abv mark at a bare minimum.
The brew was made more interesting by local malting master Mike Doehnel being in attendance. This made for a day of awesome beer conversation as we were able to discuss brewing at length as the day progressed. In this brew we tried hot steeping the dark grains, steeping them for 5 minutes and then straining and adding the liquid in at the end of the boil. Similar to the cold steep I tried with my oatmeal stout, this produced a wort of moderate gravity without any mashing at all. Part of the reason I tried this was simply due to lack of room in my mash tun, but we discovered that after the mash the grain bed settles enough that these grains could easily be added to the tun at recirculation. I will definitely try this next time.
The brew went well and passed Mike's seal of approval I think (although I used more hops than he expected, surprise, surprise). He left me with a year's worth of brew reading material that I am now starting to work my way through. I'm looking forward to making it up to his property on the Saanich peninsula to see his brew system in action some day soon. There is also word he may be brewing a beer for a guest brew at my next tasting party in January, let's hope that pans out.