Black Death

We made our first homebrewed RIS – Russian Imperial Stout, not the bubonic plague that affected much of Europe. Black Death, we named it, because if you drank too much of it, you’re going to feel like you’ve contracted the black death the next morning – easy drinking stuff really ;)


At 13% abv, it’s the most alcoholic beer we’ve ever made, though Bubblegum Belgian comes in a close second at 12.5%. I’m not a massive fan of the style, we’ve made it our aim to brew every style of beer, with only saisons left to conquer.

The beer is made with with 12% dark malts, and we used Crystal 120L, Chocolate Malt, Carafa 3 and roasted barley. As you can imagine, the beer finished as dark and thick as crude oil.

This was one of the most annoying beers we’ve had the privilege of making to remove the excess water in the wort. We started with 15-litres of wort and ended up with 6-litres of wort, with water evaporating at 3 litres an hour, so the boil took 3 hours to complete. This got us to a starting gravity of 1.130, which is super sweet. We managed to ferment this bad boy over two weeks using US-05 and plenty of oxygen in the beginning. We then aged this beer in our little oak kegs for three days. After the third day, there was far too much oak in the beer so I decided to take it out.

The beer is now three months old, and has been mellowing out in three large growlers. Right now, I would describe it to have lots of upfront oak, followed by berry fruit flavours, coffee and chocolate, and finished with meaty and soy sauce. The beer is a bit under carbonated, but I think at 13%, it doesn’t matter so much. To carbonate it, I think I might have to use champagne yeast and a small amount of priming sugar, as I think the US-05 has had it after chomping through all that sugar.

I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I just hope the oak mellows out some more and hopefully in a year, it’ll be superb.

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