I am currently brewing my first Imperial Russian Stout. Basically, my first Imperial anything. Beersmith told me my OG (original gravity) would be 1.085 and with a decent attenuation, I would get about 8.25% alcohol by volume. That is quite a kick ... quite a bite, but I actually measured my OG at 1.089, which I believe should give me an ABV pretty close to 9%. I am sure there are homebrewers out there who laugh at a mere 9% alcohol content, but for my little brewing operation, that is very high. A couple of pints of that, and someone would be knocked silly. That is what they call a "stay at home" beer.
It is also hopped-up more than any beer I have done yet. Its bitterness is up over 80 IBU's (rager formula) and even with the high gravity malty character, its GU:BU is higher than I have ever done.
Its color is almost 45 srm, making it the blackest beer I have other done.
What do we know about Tweedle Beetles?
Tweedle Beetles battle in bottles. They kick and bite and swing those paddles with the intention of knocking you silly.
They are (or at least I suspect they are) heavily involved in the Summit County mob. They are mean and nasty .... dare we say bitter. Perhaps we can even call them dark hearted evil creatures. Their hearts are black.
So, I named my black, bitter, bold beer with an alcohol kick that could knock you down: Tweedle Beetle Stout. The association between the Tweedle Beetles and the Summit County Mob (which is probably in some way related to the Russian mob) just strengthens the tie between the Beetles and the Russian Imperial.
Tyler was kind enough to help me out with the label:
The yeast really went crazy for the first few days of fermentation. On day 4, they have calmed down a bit, but there is still quite a layer of krausen on the top of the fermenting beer. Overflow was inevitable, and I did a "top crop" of the krausen during the height of the craziness. I'll use that top crop harvest in my Leprechaun Stout which I'll be mixing up either tomorrow or this weekend in hopes to have it available for St. Patrick's day.
2009 was a successful brewing year. At this time last year, I had my Mr. Beer kit, but had not yet started using it (my first batch was brewed starting 01/10/2009). And if you compare that first Classic American Blonde Ale with what I have done lately, there has been light-years of improvement.
My beer inventory is pretty impressive (IMHO) and my pipeline shows no signs of slowing down. My biggest problem now is storage space for my beer, which just means I'll have to drink (or share if I have to) more.
SheppyBrew now has at least 6 established signature beers (Eric's Red, Wetta Blonde, Whisky Wife Wheat, Phat & Tyred Ale, Dragon Spit, Blackhawk Black), and a few others that are probably close to being in the regular lineup (Girly Berry, Tommy Hawk APA, Tweedle Beetle Stout, Fools' Gold). A little over half of these still have Mr. Beer ingredients in them, but I have already reformulated recipes for Eric's Red, Dragon Spit, Whisky Wife Wheat, and Tommy Hawk APA to be completely SheppyBrew recipes without any HMEs.
Of course on top of those regulars, my little nano-brewery also puts out several seasonal and / or experimental beers for most all the major beer drinking holidays.
You can read a lot about all these beers at http://beer.ericshepard.com if you so choose.
So, it will be interesting to see what new exciting SheppyBrew experiences will come up in 2010. At some point, I'm probably going to have to start moving to 5 gallon batches. I'm not sure if that is this year or not, but I'm sure eventually it will have to be done. I keep going back and forth on if I want to become an all-grain brewer. My Phat & Tyred and BlackHawk Black Ales are partial mashes, and I really like how those have turned out. I'm just not sure if taking the next step to complete mashes is worth the extra effort. I will probably try an all-grain batch sometime.
Happy Brew Year.