Born Pyotr Alexeyevitch Dementyev, Peter Demens was a wealthy Russian aristocrat. After a stint in the Russian Czar’s Infantry, he left to continue his family’s lineage of agriculture before being forced to flee the country in 1880.
Landing in America in 1881, he found his way to his cousin’s orange groves in Jacksonville, continuing down to Central Florida where he ended up taking ownership of the now defunct Orange Belt Railway.
He extended that railway down to a Terminus in southern Pinellas County, where a tiny city had begun to pop up out of the scrub. Demens decided to found a city at that terminal landing of his railroad, along with John Constantine Williams. Local lore sees these two men famously drawing straws for the honor of naming this new Florida city.
Had Williams won, he would have named it after his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Demens was the winner, however, and named it after a city in Russia where he spent half of his childhood, St Petersburg.
Demens continued on to another citrus farm in Southern California, eventually passing away in 1919. Today a marker in St Petersburg along Bay Shore Drive shows the site where Demens’ waterside railroad landing once stood.
And it was this man and the site that led Flying Boat, one of the great breweries in St. Pete supporting and promoting St. Petersburg history, to name a beer after this man and his contributions to the city he named.
Demings Landing (Imperial Stout, 10.5% ABV, 65 IBU) is a Russian Imperial Stout that was aged in Bourbon barrels. The nose has a very heavy bourbon quality to it, with a lot of oak and vanilla notes mixed in with a heavy chocolate and caramel aroma. There is a great thickness to the beer, and it’s got a very deep red quality to the color. When you hold it up to the light, you can see how heavy a lot of the roasted characteristics were in the malt bill, and its great to examine.
Drinking it delivers a heavy body immediately to the tongue. You first get a wave of dark roasted coffee and heavy bourbon, and that dissipates always slightly to reveal undertones of vanilla oak aging, dark chocolate, and deep malts. This unfolds into notes of caramel, molasses, prune and raisin.
It’s a beer that is best sipped slowly, as everything unfolds in its own time and needs that time to open up. It is incredibly complex, and giving it the time to do its thing only pays back in fantastic rewards to the drinker.
Even more so than winning at drawing straws.
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