Beer of the Month
Bigger cause, you're worth it.
RESIST Anti-Imperial Stout (7.6% abv)
This couldn’t not be beer of the month, could it?
A group of independent Northumberland breweries have put their creative heads together and created Resist Anti-Imperial Stout in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – with the intention of raising money going directly to the Red Cross to assist Ukrainians who have been internally displaced and those fleeing the country.
The beer, which is part of the Drinkers for Ukraine initiative by concerned folks in the drinks industry to do what they can for the desperate humanitarian situation in the country, has been created according to a recipe by Ukrainian brewers which, unsurprisingly enough, is based on beetroot.
Beetroot soup – Borshch – is regarded as Ukraine’s national dish and is also hugely popular elsewhere in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Moldova, Russia and Lithuania, so a beetroot-influenced beer seemed like a good place to start.
Several breweries were involved in the Resist collaboration; First & Last, Allendale, Muckle, Rigg & Furrow, Brewis Beer Company, Alnwick Brewery, Twice Brewed, Cheviot Brewery and High House Farm.
First & Last joint owner Sam Kellie is really pleased with both the way the beer turned out and the opportunity to work with fellow-Northumbrian brewers who tend to get on with doing their own thing.
Sam says: “It’s been a very humbling experience. It’s been really nice to have a shared positive project when the last three years have been dominated more by personal survival and trying to get through. To be focusing on something that’s about giving back and working together has been quite affirming.”North East pubs and retail outlets have passed the proceeds directly on to the Red Cross humanitarian appeal so that every customer can feel involve in even the smallest way.
Sam Kellie says: “All of these businesses have said, ‘there's a bigger cause out there’, and it's amazing to see that. A strong dark beer like this takes a while to condition and get into cans and cask and there was a premium on the price which we ummed and ahhed about, but we wanted to maximise the donations for Ukraine.”
The creation of the beer has involved other businesses as well. For example, North East Organic Growers – a workers’ co-operative based in Bomarsund, near Bedlington – supplied their beetroot free of charge, as did Thomas Fawcett & Sons (the seventh-generation family business based in Castleford, West Yorkshire) with their malt. Others include Niche Solutions GB, Colin Hagan at Northern Design, Command Print (Amble), Jason Friend Photography, Northumberland Pantry and the Bird & Bush, Elsdon.
Resist Anti-Imperial Stout is as black as a Kremlin politician’s heart and pours with a dark creamy head. The initial aroma is reminiscent of boiled sweets stuck together in a paper bag on a hot day which continues into the rich, complex flavour which takes off into coffee territory with liquorice, dried fruit and chocolate touches. Beetroot? You’d have to know it’s there to detect it accurately, but once you know, you know.
It tastes nowhere near its 7.6% abv strength so it’s likely to creep up on you. A superb beer, the collaborators should be proud of their efforts.
The last we heard, the amount raised for the Red Cross was an incredible £3,314. ‘Humbling’, as Sam Kellie puts it.
Russian Imperial Stout, first brewed in England for Emperor Peter the Great of Russia, is higher in alcohol than traditional English stouts. Imperial stout was originally brewed by the major porter brewers in London as an ‘extra stout’ porter for the Baltic countries and Russia from the late 18th Century. It’s supposed to have gained its title as a drink supplied to the Russian imperial court of Czarina Catherine the Great, but like many beer stories, that’s best taken with a pinch of scepticism.
One of the best examples around today is Durham Brewery Temptation Russian Imperial Stout (10% abv).
Among other outlets, Resist Anti-Imperial Stout is available this month at the Tynedale Beer Festival, Corbridge, Northumberland, June 17-19.
*Photographs taken at the Free Trade Inn, Newcastle