16 June 2016
From Saint Arnold:
At Saint Arnold, we strive to create balanced beers. This was a key initiative in the creation of Bishop's Barrel No. 14. Bourbon barrel aged Russian Imperial Stouts are expected to have big, bold, aggressive flavors of chocolate, bourbon, roast and booze. When developing the fifth version of this style in our barrel program, we wanted to explore the complexity of balancing these flavors, while going a bit further and adding a new element, coffee.
BB14 utilizes a cult favorite, the recipe used for Divine Reserve No. 5 and 15, as the base beer and takes it to the next level. It begins as a rich beer with chocolate, toffee and roast. We aged BB14 in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels for eleven months, where it picked up notes of oak, vanilla, coconut and bourbon.
After this, we wanted to give it something more, so we partnered again with our friends at Java Pura to find a roast that complements the flavors. After several trials, we selected the Espresso blended roast. (This is the same coffee we used in our recent Icon Blue - Coffee Porter.) The completed blend with the coffee addition subdued the overwhelming alcohol heat that is typical of the Russian Imperial Stout and brought balance to a style that is usually defined by being unbalanced.
As we've stated previously with our Bishop's Barrel beers, we expect this one to age nicely. We've noticed, however, coffee flavors tend to fade over time. We suggest serving BB14 between 45 and 55° to allow for full aroma and flavor.
As with all Bishop's Barrel releases, bottles are available only at bars and restaurants. Keep up with the hashtag #BB14 on Twitter to find it in your area.
23 June 2016 UPDATE from Saint Arnold:
HOUSTON, June 23, 2016 – Pubs and restaurants throughout Texas and Louisiana have begun to receive shipments of Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 14 brewed by Saint Arnold Brewing Co. (www.saintarnold.com), the oldest craft brewery in Texas. It is a русский императорский стаут с кофе (russkiy imperatorskiy staut s kofe), which in Russian means, "Russian Imperial Stout with coffee."
Despite its name, the Russian Imperial Stout style originated in England, with roots that trace back to Peter the Great's visit to London in 1698. The Czar fell in love with stouts, but later shipments to back to Russia went bad, unable to withstand the thousand-mile journey. Brewers adjusted the standard stout recipe, creating a stronger, bolder beer with more hops and higher alcohol content. Later in the 1700s, Russian Empress Catherine the Great secured her reputation as one of history's early fans of craft beer by importing large quantities, which beer historians say was responsible for the style taking on the name, Russian Imperial Stout.
Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 14 started with the recipe for Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 5 – rated world class on Beer Advocate. Saint Arnold's brewers aged it for 11 months in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. The brewers then added espresso beans after the barrel aging to complement the flavors and add balance.
"We were going for something different from the typical Russian Imperial Stout, which can be dominated by intense alcohol heat," said Saint Arnold Brewer and Barrel Wrangler Aaron Inkrott. "By adding espresso beans from our friends at Java Pura, we were able to effectively bring the beer into balance so the flavors work in harmony."
Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel No. 14 is available in 12 ounce bottles and on draft. Due to the limited quantities produced, beers in the Saint Arnold Bishops Barrel series are only distributed to pubs and restaurants. While these beers can be aged, they have done a fair amount of aging in the barrels and are intended to be enjoyed soon after bottling.
Future Bishop's Barrel beers currently aging in the Saint Arnold barrel room include the following: Barleywine aged in Rye Whiskey barrels, Sorachi Ace Dubbel Aged in Red Wine barrels with brettanomyces, Old Ale aged in white wine barrels with cherries and brettanomyces, and Adambier aged in bourbon barrels.