2016 Imperial Stout Release Party
‘Tis the season for one of my favorite beer styles: Imperial Stout, also known as Russian Imperial Stout. This is not because the Russians hacked into the Brewers Association’s database of beer recipes or anything nefarious like that. It got the name, so the legend goes, due to Russia’s Peter the Great’s discovery of the flavorful Porter beers being brewed in England in the late 1600’s. When a shipment he requested from England arrived spoiled, he contacted Amazon customer service, who contacted Barclay and Perkins Brewery, who came up with a recipe for a higher alcohol beer that could survive the journey to Russia. That sounds fine, but other beer history has the Porter style not even invented until well into the 1700’s and the Imperial Stout being made for Catherine the Great, which negates the previous theory. So, just like when we were in school, let’s forget the history lesson and get to drinking.
Marble’s Imperial Stout has a history of its own, though bottles of it only date back to 2010. No word if any of those have made the journey to Russia, though I personally brought some bottles of the 2011 to Massachusetts. The recipe has remained largely unchanged over the years: fresh Imperial Stout blended with Imperial Stout that has been aging in the Woodford Family of bourbon barrels. This year’s ratio is 66% barrel-aged to 34% fresh stout. Magnum hops are used mainly to offset the massive amounts of chocolate and roasted malts, which are the main star in this show. The result is a rich, warming brew that finishes at 11% ABV. A perfect beer to drink now and to cellar away for special occasions. I opened one of those 2011 versions the other night and it still drinks great. This year, only 1,500 bottles were produced, so get yourself some while it’s here.
This winter classic release part takes place at all three Marble tap rooms on Wednesday, December 21 at 5 pm. Like all the modern-day Marble release parties, the beer being featured is paired with a thoughtful offering from a local food purveyor. In this case, it’s the Grove Cafe and Market.
You know the Grove: it’s the first thing a newborn baby sees upon exiting the womb. It’s also possibly Albuquerque’s favorite lunch/brunch spot, with a menu that changes to reflect the freshest seasonal offerings. The Grove folks worked with our brewers to design the perfect pairing for the Imperial Stout and they came up with this: whipped blue cheese spread on rye bread, topped with bacon fat-laded mushrooms, radish, and smoked salt. Wow. Free with purchase of a glass of Imperial Stout. If it were left up to me, a pairing would consist of a bowl of lemons and a pile of Sweet and Low packets at the water cooler, but I lean towards the cheapskate side of frugal. And Marble has never skimped on their pairings, their tap rooms, or their beer ingredients, and they’re not about to start. This may correlate with their level of success and my lack of it. Or that may have something to do with my drinking in history class. Hard to say.