The craft beer industry has a diversity problem, which should be obvious to anyone who has ever seen the overwhelming amount of burly bearded white dudes (full disclosure: I am one of those dudes) roaming tap rooms or spraying down tanks in the brewery.
The annual spring release of Stone Imperial Russian Stout, is back with a special odd year release of 2015 Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout. As part of Stone‘s “Odd Beers for Odd Years” program (AKA another excuse to brew something new and creative), the new beer takes the hoppy, roasty, chocolaty dark malts and smooth body of the classic IRS and infuses it with tea and spices.
Conceived by Stone President, co-founder and original Brewmaster Steve Wagner in 2000, the recipe for Stone Imperial Russian Stout has been tweaked very little since the beer’s debut. Black malt and British roasted barley in the grain bill give the resulting beer an opaque black color and a roasty aroma. Intense bittersweet cocoa and coffee flavors give way to hints of anise and dark berry fruitiness. Enjoy, but exercise patience—as the stout warms, its bouquet unfolds, the texture becomes smoother and roasted qualities strengthen.
“Steve developed a fantastic recipe for Stone Imperial Russian Stout, which has become something the brewing team looks forward to making every year,” explains current Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele. “For the 2015 ‘Odd’ recipe, we wanted to incorporate chai spices, as we loved how deliciously they combined with classic stout flavors in the pilot batches that we previously brewed. We are excited to share this unique and limited special-release beer with our fans.”
Inspired by the savory flavors and aromas of chai tea, a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, black pepper and black tea was blended with batches of Stone Imperial Russian Stout, post-fermentation. The aroma primarily showcases the spice and tea qualities, followed by mild clove and roasted barley characters. 2015 Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout carries rich cinnamon, ginger and cardamom characteristics, followed by flavors of sweet tea as well as coffee from the base beer. As it warms, cocoa and coffee notes will balance out the piquant tea-and-spice medley.
Both 2015 Stone Imperial Russian Stout and 2015 Stone CHAI-SPICED Imperial Russian Stout are ready to be enjoyed fresh, or fans may store them at proper cellaring temperatures (55°F or lower) for several months or even years. The spice and tea qualities from the “Odd” version will mellow over time. As both beers mature, the malt flavors will become richer and more refined.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.