Tag Archives: Russia

Russian Imperial Stout

One of a number of beers that were brewed strong with high hopping in order that they would keep, Russian Imperial Stout was brewed in Britain to be shipped to the Russian Imperial court.  It tends to be strong, and needs some aging before it is ready to be drunk (4-6 months), but a well made example is a wonderful thick, potent experience.

Anyway, I’ve put a recipe on Hopville (this one came from Jamil Zainashef’s, Brewing Classic Styles).


Suzdalskaya Medovukha (Suzdal Mead)

I had Suzdalskaya Medovukha at a pickle festival a few years back, and have had it since in Moscow.  I was wondering how to recreate it, and found a recipe here.  The original recipe is in Russian, but here it is in English:

500g sugar

250g honey

Yeast and nutrient

1 tsp citric acid

water to 4.5 litres

This reckons that you should leave for 3-4 weeks under airlock.  Rack, add an additional 250g honey and then either ferment to completion of stop fermentation (using 1 campden tablet) depending on how sweet (and alcoholic) you want your mead.

Fermented all the way out this would be about 7.5%, with just the first amount of honey it would be around 5.5%

Rosebay Willowherb, aka Fireweed

Fireweed grows all over the place where I live (and probably where you live too).  It grows in disturbed ground, so near railway lines seems to be where some of the larger patches are, and derives its name from the fact that it’s often one of the first plants to grow in the wake of forest fires.

It is edible, either as young leaves or the root of the young plant (too old and it’s too bitter), and apparently Alaskans make ice-cream flavoured with it.  It can also be used to make tea, or dried and smoked producing a short-lasting stupefying effect that is supposedly not dissimilar to the effects of cannabis.

I’m interested in it as a brewing herb, hence the post on the blog.  Apparently, Russians used to use it to make beer in much the same way as the nettle beer recipe that I use (i.e. steep the leaves in boiling wtaer, then add sugar when cooled to body temperature), so I think I shall give this a go.  I believe that it may retain its mild stupefying effects when used to brew, which follows the trend developing with my use of yarrow and mugwort, but I’m unsure of how firewweds chemicals might mix with thujone, so I’m not going to use them together.


I attempted to make a sourdough rye bread, but it went somewhat wrong, didn’t rise enough, and I now have a brick that I could maim somebody with.  While I’m disappointed that it’s pretty inedible, I can still turn it into something that it pleasant to drink, a Russian drink called kvas.

Kvas is a very slightly (just a touch) alcoholic drink that is widely available in Russia, and particulalry pleanat in hot weather.  It is a bit of an acquired tatste, but I happen to enjoy it, particularly when it’s fresh from the wagon in the market or outside the metro.  You can by it in bottles, but it tends to have extra sugar added to it as a preservative which makes it too sweet.

The recipe:

450 g rye bread (a small loaf or half a large one)
300g molasses, treacle, golden syrup, honey or a combination of them.
4.5 litres water
yeast (or rye sourdough starter)
2 raisins per bottle

O.G: 1.020

Dry the bread, either by chopping it into little pieces and air drying or in a low oven (130C).  Boil the water and pour over the dry bread.  When cooled to body temperature, strain into a bucket and add the molasses/treacle/honey, then yeast or starter at below 24C. Leave for 12 hours, then strain into bottles, adding two raisins to each (this provides some sugar to prime the kvas and give it some fizz).  I once had medovy kvas, or honey kvas, which could be made with the substitution of honey for molasses or treacle, either in whole, but probably better in part.

Elena Molokhovets, author of the tome once given to all Russian women when the got married, says that it will be ready to drink in 2 more days.  I’d advise keeping an eye on it, as it’s likely that a great deal of pressure will build up.  You could probably leave it in the bucket a touch longer or transfer it to a demijohn and close with an airlock, before bottling later.  If fermented out this will be about 2%, but you could drink it earlier.

Found in Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters. Addition of honey to make Medovy Kvas taken from a bottle of the stuff that I bought in Suzdal at the pickle festival a few years back (they also make truly excellent mead in a variety of strengths and flavours, which is more like a beer than the western honey wine).

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