This is beer number five, stout number two. It’s from Papazian’s Complete Joy of Homebrewing (3rd edition). I don’t know any story behind the name–Papazian gives none and as far as I’m aware there was never any Armenian Empire–so I suppose it’s just a takeoff of “Russian Imperial Stout” because Armenia is (almost) adjacent to Russia. Whatever. The point is that the beer is pretty damn good.
It’s a malt extract recipe, and I got all my supplies from the excellent Oak Barrel Winecraft in Berkeley, Calif. For a 5-gallon batch, the total cost came to about $40, which is a bit under a dollar a beer. This is pretty good by commercial beer standards–you won’t find one this delicious for that price–but a bit much for homebrew, mainly because there’s just a ton of malt extract. If you’re careful you can probably do a bit better (e.g. bring your own containers to fill with extract at the store, etc), but this beer is well worth it.
(This is what I used; they’re a bit different from what Papazian calls for but pretty close.)
6.5 lb amber extract
3.25 lb light extract
1/2 lb black patent malt
1/2 lb roasted barley
Boiling hops (60 min): 2 oz Magnum hops + 1/2 oz Cascade hops
Finishing hops (1 min): 1 oz Cascade hops
Yeast Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast
Comments on the Brewing
This was a pretty standard stove-top malt extract brew. The specialty grain (black patent and roasted barley) was supposed to be steeped at 150-160 C for 30 minutes, but of course the temperature control was a bit wonky in practice. The amount of hops used was a bit of a guess–the recipe calls for hopped malt extract, and instead I put in the extra 1/2 oz Cascade for the boil. The result was not particularly over- or under-hopped, so it worked out. I tried to sparge (strain) the wort, but both the mesh bag and the metal strainer I had just got clogged, so it was about half-sparged. Finally, for various reasons I didn’t have a hydrometer at either the beginning or the end of the process, so I don’t know what the gravity was. (The recipe has O.G. 1.070 – 1.075, F.G. 1.018 – 1.025, which would give it an ABV of about 7%, which seems about right.)
I gave it about three and a half weeks in the carboy (with a blowoff hose for the first 24+ hours, which was an excellent idea), and three weeks in the bottle thereafter. The tasting notes I have in my brew notebook consist only of this: “Absolutely Delicious!!”
(I will, however, take the opportunity to add a few more tasting notes here. The ale is quite bitter, but not hoppy, and very malty, but not at all sweet. It also has a very strong burnt or coffee flavor, which I find wonderful. If I were to make it again, this could go quite well with many types of additives: coffee, chocolate, vanilla, even chile would be excellent. Of course, it is also great as it is.)