In the November 19, 1976 issue of the Harrow Observer, a home-brewing recipe was published for Russian Imperial Stout. At the time imperial or Russian stout was brewed commercially only by Courage Ltd. of London.
The recipe was part of a series in the paper by Ben Turner. He had made wine and beer at home since the 1940s and authored books, whence the recipe was taken.
He calls it a “super stout” and the recipe is not without interest. For example, it calls for wheat malt, probably to help head retention. One would not see this in a classic traditional recipe for imperial stout.
As to sugar, good old brown sugar is enough – no special invert or other brewing type is specified. Such raw sugar had been used for a long time in Australian brewing, so this rough and ready approach was not quite catch-as-catch-can.
He calls for all-Fuggles hops (a classic English variety), if same can be obtained. I like this. And just “water” – nothing about water adjustment. Keep it simple lad.
His 2 oz per 16 pints of beer works out to about 3/4 lb per standard UK barrel, enough certainly for a drink meant for quick consumption.
Only a half-hour is prescribed for boiling hops, not terribly long. Perhaps he wanted minimal bitterness and maximum flavour.
His original gravity is 1054 so the beer was not terribly strong, not that imperial, really, in historical terms. Courage Imperial Russian Stout was about twice as strong, in fact.
But this recipe should not be read as a history lesson, in general. It is of its time and place, and let’s appreciate it for that.
Turner’s version, it should be noted still, was rather stronger than standard pub beer of the time. His readers would have expected to drink their brew in reasonably quantity, as in the pub, so fair enough.**
Homebrewing in this period had a good following in the UK, and would soon in the US with legalization, which came three years later.* This was certainly part of the group of influences that created modern craft brewing.
Anyone up to brewing this approach to Russian Stout? Extract is via British Newspaper Archive (“BNA”).
Note re image: source is BNA as referenced. Used for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property in source belongs solely to lawful owner. All feedback welcomed.
*See comment on this point added by our reader Arnold Moodenbaugh.
**Turner does state some readers may be satisfied to drink just a half-pint of this stout, but I suggest you take that with a grain of salt.