Tasting: #35 Rusalka Imperial Stout

Eureka, it’s time for another tasting post. I would like to share some tasting notes of #35 Rusalka Imperial Stout brewed in May 2011. Bottled on the 18th of June 2011. We tried this beer from time to time to see how the profile changes.

RusalkaOfficial tasting number 1, (08/30/2011), two months in bottle

Aroma: Wood character, lots of coffee and roast character. Some alcohol detectable as well.

Appearance: Black, brown creamy head, nice lacing

Flavor: Lots of roast character again, coffee character, warming alcohol detectable

Mouthfeel: Medium body, low carbonation level, light sweet and warming aftertaste, light astringent finish as well

Overall Impression: Not bad, however a lot of rough edges and alcohol shines through. Further maturation needed

Official tasting number 2, (02/27/2012), eight months in bottle

Aroma: Chocolate, smoke, hints of raisins, light sweetness, licorice. No alcohol detectable.

Appearance: Black, 1 finger brown head, frothy and creamy head, lots of lacing

Flavor: Smoke, chocolate, heavily roasted coffee

Mouthfeel: Light – medium body, average carbonation level, light bitter and roast driven finish. Not astringent anymore. Kind of watery… (not the body one would expect from such a beer)

Overall Impression: Improved a lot compared to the first tasting. However, it gets obvious that this beer lacks in-depth. Meaning, the body of this beer is a bit too low to counterbalance the flavors. To change that, either increase the alcohol level and/or add further unfermentable sugars to make it rounder. This was the official tasting before entering this beer in a homebrewer’s contest. Well, we can’t be too upset about this beer since it won us the first prize in the Dry Stout category (there was no other more suitable category to enter this beer).

Official tasting number 3, (01/06/2013), 19 months in bottle

Aroma: Lots of dark chocolate, roast character, coffee, reminds me of milk chocolate. Some alcohol detectable

Appearance: Dark black, creamy head, nice lacing

Flavor: Dark chocolate, roasty character, sticky and decent level of bitterness still

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation level, chocolate finish

Overall Impression: Pretty neat! In my opinion, the body of this beer is now spot on. I have no idea how/why this is the case after further maturation.

I can’t complain about this beer at all. First, it was my very first Imperial Stout (however a bit short for an Imperial Stout) and second, it won us a competition (first as well). A very neat base for further improvements which are already going on. The second batch was brewed in September 2013 (#66 Rusalka II Imperial Stout) with some minor changes such as increasing the original gravity a bit to get to an ABV of roughly 8% to be at the lower end of the Imperial Stout category style description. And we matured the second batch on some Whisky soaked wood. A third batch will follow in Fall 2013. Future changes of the original recipe will include changes to increase the body of the beer as well as hiding the alcohol.

This batch gave us a lot of great experiences brewing higher ABV beers and getting an idea how such a beer changes over time. We are now able to brew big beers up to ABV levels of 12%. The next big Imperial Stouts in our pipeline should get past an ABV level of 15% (Without any sugar additions!) Cheers!