Not a totally random choice. There's the obvious Barclay Perkins connection. I've spent quite a bit of time looking at their legendary Imperial Stout. They weren't the only ones by any means to have a beer of that name. Truman and Courage, for a start. Others who, like Whitbread might have not called it Imperial Stout in the brew house, had a beer sold under that name.
I love that Courage brewed two Imperial Stouts at different tines with completely different heritages. Their own and, after Barclay Perkins closed, the granddaddy of the style.
After banging in "Imperial Stout" search in the newspaper archive, I started off looking far back for the first mention of the term. Nothing in the 18th century. I wasn't that surprised, as Britain only became "imperial" in the 19th century.
A comment on the weediness of Barclay Perkins Russian Stout of the 1940s reminded me adverts for it in Scottish newspapers from that time. All for a weaker version - "Red Label". After the war a weak version was specifically identified as being for Scotland.
How far did this "Red Label" go back? Was it always weaker than the classic version? If so, how did they achieve that? Have I missed it in the brewing records?
The first spotting I have (in the brewing books) of a weak Russian Stout is in 1921. Though I haven't seen a brewing log, just a Whitbread analysis, a full-strength version was on sale in 1922. Both beers were brewed right through the interwar years.
The strong Russian Stout is identified as IBS ex in the logs. Indicating an export beer. But was it really only exported? Or just a name to distinguish it from its weedy sibling?
I'll leave you with a table. I wouldn't want to disappoint.
|Weak Imperial Russian Stout 1921 - 1947|
|Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608, ACC/2305/01/611, ACC/2305/01/614, ACC/2305/01/621, ACC/2305/01/623, ACC/2305/01/624 and ACC/2305/01/627.|
Come with me as I dig further into the questions I've raised. After a little research - a couple of hours this afternoon while vaguely watching football - the story is mildly interesting. Who could ask for more than that? The tiniest scrap of excitement.