Russian Imperial Barrel Aged Christmas Stout
Each year Grandfather Frost brings a very special beer with him from deep inside the Siberian taiga: the Russian Imperial Barrel Aged Christmas Stout.
It is a hefty black beer, overflowing with Russian Soul.
After fermentation the beer is matured in used wooden barrels. It turns into a delicate complex beer with hints of coffee, chocolate and the barrel it was aged
in. More than heartwarming, even on the coldest of nights.
Do you dare awaken the Russian bear within you?
Once a year, between Christmas and New year's eve, we brew a very special beer. After brewing, the beer is aged on specially selected wooden barrels which allow the flavour and aroma of the barrel to infuse into the beer. After bottling it matures further in our cellar and is released in November.
The limited beer is different every year, and boy, have we made some beauties:
New year, new barrels. In 2017 we decided to use new barrel for each different R.I.B.A.C.S. This way the flavours of the barrels are much more pronounced. Learning as we go!
Because we were able to brew in bigger quantities in 2017, we also decided to increase the volume of the R.I.B.A.C.S. to 1100 litres. This was divided into five different barrels, 3 whisky- and 2 two rum barrels. All these barrels have been filled single cask by the distilleries, which allows us to know even more about the barrels!
Together with the beer we use as a base, the Russian Imperial Stout, we released the R.I.B.A.C.S. in its own 6-pack.
Ballechin 2005. Barrel 423
Ballechin is a brand of whisky from the Scottish Higlands. The distillery has operated from 1810 to 1927. Since 2002 the brand is owned by Edradour, who uses it to produce heavily peated whiskies.
Barrel 423 is an old bourbon barrel, in which the whisky was allowed to age for 11 years. The whisky has an alcoholpercentage of 59,6%.
As expected the peat of the barrel is quite pronounced in the R.I.B.A.C.S. Ballechin '05. However, because it is Highlands peat, it is very pleasant without being too powerful.
Because of the barrel the Ballechin reached 12,49%.
Ledaig 2010. Barrel 700390
Ledaig is a Scottish Island whisky, it is distilled on the island of Mull. It is produced by the Tobermory distillery. They also use peated barley malt to produce their whisky, which makes the peat very present.
Barrel 700390 is also an old bourbon barrel. Ledaig '10 spent 7 years in this barrel and reached a percentage of 61,8%. This barrel also gave a very peated aroma to
the R.I.B.A.C.S. 2017, in this case the iodine connotation comes to the top.
R.I.B.A.C.S. 2017 Ledaig '10 has an alcoholpercentage of 12,42%
Stratishla 2007. Barrel 80025
Stratishla is the oldest distillery of Scotland which has always been producing. Their stills are in Keith, in Speyside. This is the region with the largest amount of distilleries of Scotland.
After being in the barrel for 9 years, the whisky got an alcoholpercentage of 46%
Barrel 80025 is a Hogshead, a bigger barrel of 250 litres, which makes the ratio wood to beer (or whisky) smaller, which leads to a less pronounced barrel flavour to the R.I.B.A.C.S. This means the stout character is accentuated. All in all, a great combination of flavours.
The R.I.B.A.C.S. Strathisla '07 has an alcoholpercentage of 12.25%
Fiji Rum 2004. Barrel 14
This is the barrel that is most
unknown to us. Might be because it is so old! The rum has been in this ex-bourbon barrel for 14 years! Unfortunately we do not actually know what distillery made this rum, so we miss a lot of
What about the beer then?
You should expect a sweet aroma, full of ripe fruit and the well-known warming aroma of alcohol.
The flavour is spicy and powerful, with the stout accents coming round in the back of the mouth. The alcoholpercentage is 12,33%
Monymusk 2007. Barrel 7
Jamaica exports a lot of rum, but not all are as special as our Monymusk '07. This lightly coloured rum originated in the small Monymusk distillery.
Barrel 7 is an old bourbon barrel in which the rum was aged for 9 years, reaching an alcoholpercentage of 46%.
It gives a very pronounced red fruit aroma to the R.I.B.A.C.S.
With 12,59% this is the heaviest of the 5 barrel aged stouts.
This year we aged our R.I.B.A.C.S. on 2015's bourbon barrel, as well as a very special Speyside whisky, Glenburgie '95.
After storing the whisky in this barrel for 21 years it was bottled especially for the Alte Tabakstube in Stuttgart who bought all 340 bottles. The whisky is very smooth, fruity and sweet, which combines very well with the R.I.B.A.C.S. we produced for this barrel.
The R.I.B.A.C.S. 2016 Glenburgie '95 was awarded a 5 star beer award during The Beer Awards.
The bourbon version is slightly less pronounced, which allows the stout character of the beer to come through more. This version was awarded a 3 star award during the same competition.
After the success of our oak aged R.I.B.A.C.S. we re-used the oak barrel as well as purchasing a barrel which had had bourbon in it. The bourbon induced a very
silky sweet whiskey flavour to the 10.6% stout.
The bourbon version was a great success, and won us two prizes:
A gold medal during the Concours de Lyon and the prize for the "Best winterbeer of The Netherlands" during the winterbeerfestival organised by Pint in Gouda.
The first year we produced a barrel aged beer. For this beer we utilised an oak barrel, not really knowing what the flavour of the beer would be at the end, but it
was a great start to a tradition. Because our brewing installation was only capable of producing 50 litres of "normal alcohol level" beer, we had to brew 4 times to fill the barrel.
The barrel added nice flavours to the beer, obviously oak, but also vanilla and port-like flavours. We assume there was some residual yeast in the barrel which helped crank this batch up to 12%abv!