Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1914 Courage Imperial

A special Let's Brew today. Finally the 100% guaranteed, perfect, not-even-the-slightest-mistake version of Courage Imperial from 1914.

Imperial - now there's a name to conjure with. Several London brewers made one. Truman, Courage and, of course, Barclay Perkins. The latter was the most famous, nay legendary, version. They are all very much in the same mould: massive gravity, masses of hops. Sound very modern, don't they?

Courage's  Imperial, like so many others, was a casualty of WW I. It was last brewed in 1915. When peace returned and brewing restrictions lifted, Courage were left with just one Stout. At just 1044º, it was literally a shadow of their pre-war Stouts and 6º weaker than their Porter had been in 1914. You don't want to know how weak the Porter was after the war. Almost weak enough for the kiddies.

Not much to say today. I'll had you straight over to Kristen . . . .

Notes – Guys, here is the correct version of the 1914 Courage. The slight difference in numbers are only a result of a change in my calculations over time. Meaning the ones I use now are more correct than before but as you see, its only by a tiny margin. The yeast has change to the actual Courage yeast but feel free to keep the originally listed one if you wish. Sorry for the inconvenience.


  1. Kristen seems to have got Courage Imperial Stout confused with Barclay Perkins Russian Stout aka Courage Imperial Russian Stout when he says it was discontinued in the 1990s.

  2. I think this is going to be my winter beer! Will likely brew plenty in the coming months and let it sit in the cellar....

  3. Kristen,

    Any tips on using the 1469? I know its a insane flocculator which has its pros and cons.

    I've used it a couple times and have had a detectable level of acetaldehyde. In this latest batch, Innkeeper from NB, when I bottled it it tasted like green apple skins, but It seems to have disappeared after bottle conditioning. So I'm pretty sure thats what it was. First beer I made with the strain, this flavor stuck around.

    How do you handle this yeast? I swirled the carboy often during the first few days, and even stuck a racking cane in there and roused the yeast once a day. Is this totally unnecessary?

    I had a fresh pouch and made a proper sized starter. Am I fermenting too hot and getting too many esters?

    I know lots of questions and all over the place. Sorry. Just trying to squeeze out as much info from the homebrew Jedi.

  4. Andrew,

    Thats my kit from NB. I wrote it. As for 1469, ive never had that problem. If it gets to cold and crashes it will have a lot of stuff left around that the yeast would normally clean up. Bottle conditioning will usually solve the problem. I usually just pitch about 25% less for smaller beers as i want more ofmthe yeasts character to come out.


    If u want but its hard to get a lot of character with this many hops. Start at 3000 cells per ml at bottling and then go from there. Brett Anomalous.

  5. Thanks for posting the correction. What are your thoughts on using baird's malts for this and other historic recipes? Is baird's 50L brown/amber a decent substitution for brown malt? how does it compare to other brown malts? What about their black malt? Any time i've used more than a few ounces there was an intense soy sauce character.

  6. Ive used the pale and roasted malts and really like them but I wont go out of my way to find them and ship them to me. They are great though. the black malt is very black...if there is such a thing. Most are around 450-500. Bairds is always 500-600 I believe. If you really are worried, maybe back off 10% or so and go from there. Whats wrong with Soy Sauce in beer? I'm sure Mikkeler will do a single sauce line of beers shortly focusing on 20 different sauces.... ;)

    I haven't used Bairds Amber b/c its really hard to find around here and I have enough Brown malts not to cock around and try to find all of them. That said, it looks just fine to me...thats a real fine, not my usual 'I'm sure it will be just fine'

  7. Brewed this about 3 weeks ago. Was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe - that, and that I tend to really enjoy the middle-note flavor of brown malt. Used a mix of fuggles and EKG for the bittering hops (didn't have enough fuggles on hand) and used WLP002 (commonly attested to be the Fullers strain) for the yeast as I had just brewed a low-gravity mild with that strain and had plenty of happy yeast hanging around looking for a challenge. This, perhaps, contributed to my high final gravity. I ended up racking it over into a second container to get it of of the 002 and hit it with a fresh starter of US-05, but still have only gotten it down to circa 1.033. Samples are tasty, but certainly a very different beer than the FG 1.018 targeted in the recipe.

    Speaking of which, for a no-adjunct beer of this size, is that 81% attenuation even possible? Is nottingham that crazily aggressive a fermenter?

    Thanks for the recipe, Ron and Kristen! Would love to continue to see this feature.

  8. I finally brewed this today and pitched 3 rehydrated packs of Nottingham into 5gal so hopefully I can get some decent attenuation (my OG was a bit high at 1.102). Now what do I do about the dry hopping? In a beer like this that will be aged should I dry hop for a week in the fermenter then age, age then dry hop before packaging or rack it into a keg with the dry hops? When and how long did Courage dry hop this beer?

  9. I just took a gravity sample of the batch I pitched with 3 packs of nottingham. Its been 3 weeks and is down to 1.022 from an OG of 1.102.

  10. kristen

    i have a question last sunday 12/08/2012 i brew this recipe

    but my og was 1.052

    what did i do wrong

    mash time????


  11. I brewed this 4 weeks ago and so far so good, but I'm getting ready to transfer to secondary and am wondering how to handle the dry hops. I've never left a beer on dry hops for longer than two weeks, but this one is bigger in every way than anything I've brewed before, and it seems like they would have gone far longer than that with this beer back in the day. So, how long do you think this would have been dry hopped for? Months? Is there some upper limit I should worry about, or should I just dry hop it and forget about it until the spring?

    Thanks for any feedback!

  12. Dana,

    a beer like this would have been vatted for a minimum of 12 months. Possibly a full two years. With, I guess, dry hops in with it the whole time.

  13. Ok, 12 months in the basement it is. Thanks for the tip and the incredible amount of information in the blog!

  14. This is an amazing beer. I made a 1.095 version and an 1.105 version. I think it's better at 1.105. It's got more sweetness to balance all of the other stuff going on.

  15. mycoleptodiscus,

    glad to hear it turned out well. Never had the chance to taste this one myself.