A style that perhaps more than any other has been at the forefront of the extreme craft beer scene in America, the Russian Imperial Stout is actually a relatively recent stylistic arrival to the brewing scene. When Peter the Great opened Czarist Russia to the west in the early 1700s, Porters (like our Chocolate Hills Porter) were at the height of the popularity in London. Part of the Czar’s cultural revolution to drag Russia away from its medieval roots and towards a modern, scientific-oriented European system apparently involved falling in love with these dark beers during his 1698 trip to England, and the Thrale Brewery–at the request of Peter–brewed an extra-potent, highly hopped, alcoholic version of the English classic to survive the tedious thousand-mile plus journey to the Imperial Court.
We like to go against the grain here at the Cebruery, though (no pun intended). So instead of brewing an extreme, in your face, fat, thick, chewy, malty, chocolatey, highly-hopped, unbalanced mess that makes you gain weight just by looking at the bottle like so many craft breweries currently are, we decided to adopt a more … ahem … sophisticated approach. Our Black Magic Woman is brewed with English pale, wheat, crystal, caramel, chocolate, black patent, roasted, and aromatic malts, as well as Special B and flaked barley and oats, but nothing is out of balance or disproportionate. A moderate amount of balancing bittering hops provides just enough counterbalance to the maltiness, and the six months this spends in The Cebruery’s fermentation cellar with a traditional English ale yeast strain ensures an incredibly complex and mature flavor profile full of caramel, toffee, chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, berry notes, and warming, bracing alcohol, all in perfect synergy.
Of course, at 10.2% abv, there’s no denying she packs a punch. That’s the magic of Black Magic Woman, though: just like the classic song by Santana says, turn your back on her, and she’ll try and make a devil out of you.