The Great American Beer Festival is known for beer rarities and brand new debuts each year. This year, just as things got into full swing in Denver Friday afternoon a sort of combonation of the two happened at Falling Rock Tap House. Excitement was mounting as a once iconic beer was making a comeback.
The beer of the hour was Courage Imperial Russian Stout. This beer dates back to the 1800’s when it was made by Thrale’s Anchor Brewery in London for Catherine II of Russia. The high alcohol content, 10% ABV, was necessary to keep the beer from freezing during shipping. The hops were used to maintain quality.
The beer then changed hands several times including Barclay Perkins and then eventually Courage in the 1950’s. It was continuously brewed and aged through all owners. Courage Brewery closed in 1982 – but never fear, the brew was still made under new ownership until 1993, when sadly, the brewing of this Imperial Russian Stout was stopped completely.
In 2007, Courage was bought by Wells and Young. Wells and Young’s head brewer, Jim Robertson, just so happened to be one of the last people to brew the stout when it was still in production. With a little nudging from beer journalist Melissa Cole, he decided to brew the beer again and started aging it in May.
Falling Rock Tap House’s guests on Friday were the first to sample this beer since the early 90’s on Friday. Upon popping the bottle open, both Jim and Melissa said a few words before sipping the 10% ABV Imperial Russian Stout. Melissa eloquently concluded by saying “It’s like sex in a fucking glass.”
Although not easy to brew on newer brewing systems because of the amounts of raw ingredients, the beer will now be made once anually. This year only 1,000 cases will make it to the US, so swing by Falling Rock Tap House before it’s gone! It will age well for up to 13 years in the bottle.