Style Guidelines: The first time we brewed the Russian we didn't think we'd get all the grain in the mash tun. Until Ohio liquor laws allowed us to exceed 6% alcohol by weight, this was as big as brewing workouts got here. The result is a roasty, fruity beer that you might be tempted to eat with a spoon.
Rotation Schedule: Every other batch of dark beer brewed
Food Pairings: This one pairs up beautifully with dark chocolate; also try chocolate-and-fruit desserts, such as stout cheesecake with raspberry sauce, or something with caramel or pecans. Stilton and walnuts; chocolate baked Alaska.
Color: "ochee chorneea" (Russian for "Dark Eyes") opaque black
Grain: British pale, crystal, carapils, wheat, chocolate, lack patent malts and roasted, unmalted British roast barley
Bittering Hops: American Chinook
Finishing Hops: British Fuggle, Slovenian Styrian Golding and Polish Polnischer Lublin
Original Gravity: 1.080
Estimated IBUs: 51
Alcohol By Volume: 7.6%
First Tapped: January 7, 1995, Russian Orthodox Christmas day
About the Ale: Alexanders I-III were formidable czars in Russia. Barclays Brewery of London made a beer specifically for export to the Russian Imperial Court.
Because refrigeration was not invented yet, the brew had to be high in alcohol content to naturally preserve it on the journey.
Coincidentally, both Scott Francis' and Brewdood's first sons are named Alexander, and that sealed the deal for the name.
This entirely enjoyable beer won gold medal twice at the prestigious Real Ale Festival in Chicago, despite the fact that it was only brewed to 6% ABW back then, due to Ohio's prohibition of brewing strong ales.
You can read about the history of RIS here, in this 2002 article from All About Beer magazine.