Ale sets sail from Yorkshire to Russia

Black Sheep brewery in Masham is one of 12 brewers each producing its own version of Imperial Russian Stout to take part in a grand tasting to be held in Saint Petersburg.

The Grand Baltic Adventure will re-trace earlier, 18th century journeys, when British porter – a dark, rich beer – was shipped to Russia where it was a great favourite with Empress Catherine the Great and renamed Imperial Russian Stout.

The beers will be loaded onto a 60ft, former round-the-world Clipper and leave Greenwich, London on May 15 for a journey, which will take them across the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, stopping at Denmark, Sweden and Finland before arriving in St Petersburg on June 18.

When they arrive, they will be tasted by a panel of judges who will select a winning stout.

Black Sheep plans to send a pin – the smallest sized cask containing just four and a half gallons – of its version of the Imperial Stout on the epic journey and the award-winning brewery is taking no chances with its entry by resuming a traditional brewing process not used for more than six years.

Traditional slate Yorkshire Square fermenting vessels are being brought out of retirement to help with the fermentation of the stout.

Head Brewer Alan Dunn said: “We are all very excited to be taking part in the Grand Baltic Adventure and have had a team of brewers working night and day to perfect our recipe.

“We are confident that, had the Empress Catherine been able to taste our Imperial Stout, she would have granted it her Imperial seal of approval.”

A spokesman for Brilliant Beer, which is organising the competition, said: "From the heart of London to the centre of Saint Petersburg - this has to be the most epic journey a drayman has made for more than years!"

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