#35 Rusalka Imperial Stout

Eureka, todays recipe is a really big one. And a really tasty one as well. More about that later on. Well, I did an Irish Stout batch once and there was a big yeast cake left in the fermenter. Instead of dumping the whole cake, I decided to use the yeast for a really big Imperial Stout. So I designed a Russian Imperial Stout recipe and planned to split the batch before the fermentation to try different things with each share. This post is about one share of the recipe. The second share will be discussed in another post (see batch number #36 Russian Imperial Stout).

Normally, I do not invest a lot of time thinking about a name for one of my beers. But I had to since I entered this particular brew at a homebrew competition. So I went with Rusalka Imperial Stout. Rusalka by the way, is a female water ghost mentioned in the Slavic mythology. Lets go through the recipe:

Recipe: Rusalka Imperial Stout
Numbers: Volume [L] 30 (8.0 gal)
Original gravity 18°P
Terminal gravity 5.6°P
Color Around 210 EBC
IBU 87 IBU
ABV > 6.9 %
Grains: Pale Ale malt (6.5 EBC) 7.0 kg
Wheat malt (4 EBC) 0.9 kg
Roasted barley (1150 EBC) 1.1 kg
Carafa Typ 1 (900 EBC) 1.1 kg
Crystal (120 EBC) 0.4 kg
Hops: Northern Brewer (10% AA) 48.1 g and boil for 60 min
Northern Brewer (10% AA) 37.1 g and boil for 30 min
Northern Brewer (10% AA) 18.2 g and boil for 15 min
East Kent Goldings (5.1% AA) 55.9 g and boil for 15 min
East Kent Goldings (5.1% AA) 83.3 g and boil for 3 min
East Kent Goldings (5.1% AA) 57 g for dry hopping
Yeast: #1084 Irish Stout
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 29 L (7.7 gal), sparge: 46 L (7.9 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest: Mash in @63°C (145°F), 90 min @ 65°C (149°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 60 min
Fermentation: Primary 9 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic fermenter
Secondary 15 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic fermenter
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 2 (carbonated with table sugar)
Maturation time Month to years

Fig 1: Mash is resting.

05/28/2011: A big brew day begins. All went according to the protocol until the fly sparging. I left the sparging process unattended and as I came back, the kettle for the boil was already full. So I had to stop lautering at 4°P. I would stop sparging way before 4°P in the future. So I removed 10 L (2.6 gal) of the wort and boiled them for 90 min in another kettle.

Because of the volume, I boiled the wort 30 min prior to the first hop addition. Then added the hops according to the protocol. After a whirlpool rest of approximately 10 min, I cooled the wort down to 20°C (68°F) and split the batch. 20 L (5.3 gal) were fermented with the #1084 Irish Stout yeast (270 billion yeast cells) and 10 L (2.6 gal) with a Safbrew S33 dried yeast. I will post about the Safbrew share in another post. So far for the brew day.

06/03/2011: Racked the 20 L (5.3 gal) share and split the batch again into two smaller fermenters (10 L (2.6 gal) each). Then added 19 g of East Kent Golding hops for dry hopping to each share and 25 g of medium toasted French oak chips to just one share. I will label the share without wood as #35, the one with wood as #35W.

06/18/2011: Gravity: 5.6°P. Bottled both shares (#35 and #35W) to a carbonation level of 2 vol carbon dioxide. The bottles mature in the cellar since then. I plan to drink this brew after a year of maturation.

Fig 2: Collecting the first runnings

What I like about brewing dark beers is the depth of dark color you can get in a mash and during the sparging process. But the color of this particular brew was just beyond every brew before. The deep dark color was just amazing (Fig 2). And the Irish yeast went through the wort without any problems and reached a gravity of nearly 5.6°P after a few days already.

12/12/2011: Nearly a half a year passed since bottling. I took each a bottle of #35 and #35W to a homebrewer meeting. The #35 was pretty tasty already and some of the other homebrewers really liked it. What a flavor profile: chocolate, coffee, hoppy and roasty notes. The #35W is still too young because the wood character was too overpowering and somewhat astringent. Furher maturation is required…

03/17/2012: The beer is nearly nine month old. As I already mentioned in the recipe post about the Gielis Tripel, my brother and I entered each one beer at a homebrew competition. My brother already won a first place with his Gielis Tripel. And I entered the #35 Rusalka Imperial Stout in the Dry Stout category (there was no Imperial Stout category). What happened is just amazing. I not only won the first prize in the Irish Dry Stout category, but reached the highest tasting score at the whole competition as well. This is just amazing. We both won first place at our very first competition!

Fig 3: Rusalka Imperial Stout wins SIOS Trophy 2012 in the Irish Dry Stout beer category.

I will post the tasting results in a separate post in the future. Unfortunately, there are just a few bottles left now of this particular batch. I already planned on doing a second bigger batch. Now I hope to be able to replicate the beer in a second batch… and maybe introduce some Brettanomyces as well?

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4 thoughts on “#35 Rusalka Imperial Stout

  1. Great post, Sam. I like reading about big beers like that and really want to brew one. RIS are about the only stouts I can tolerate and actually like the taste of. Other stouts just taste like mud. Even the ones I make, which is why I stopped even trying to like them. I may be moving any month so brewing my PhD Barleywine and RIS keep getting delayed more and more… But I’ll get to them! Congratulations on the awards, that’s really great!
    P.S. Rusalka is more of a mermaid type entity, while Kikimora is more of a swampy, wet, mean kind of thing. Both of them are kind of evil though anyway hahaha.

    • Hy there,
      thanks for reading. Really like reading your comments. I really like stouts but not the dry versions. They are pretty thin and not much going in the aroma and flavor. Could be mud… 🙂 Oatmeal stouts are far better and RIS, well, RIS are just awesome. I already thought about doing a second batch of the Rusalka and introduce some Bretts. There is an Imperial Stout made by a Swiss brewery with Bretts. And this is just awesome. And thanks for the congrats. Never predicted something like that.
      And concerning the name Rusalka, this beer is really evil… 😉
      Cheers!

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