Have you had a chance to try any of the Russian Imperial Stouts on the market? Do you know the history of these outstanding craft beers? If the answer to these questions is no (or even if it’s yes), keep reading, because we’re going to give you a breakdown on the origin of the Russian Imperial Stout and why it is so great.
This craft beer has a pretty interesting history, to be honest. Would you believe it is actually an English brew? No? Well, you’d be wrong to not believe it. This beer was actually a second gift to the Queen of Prussia (now known as Russia) after the first batch of beer soured on its journey to the Queen. A second batch was made with a whole lot of hops to help it survive the journey. The brew aged in the barrels during the journey, making it one amazing beer. The Queen loved the resulting brew so much that she deemed it to be an Imperial brew and thus it was named the Russian Imperial Stout.
Therefore, when you’re drinking this lovely brew, you’re not actually drinking a Russian brew at all, but an English brew in disguise! We told you it was interesting, didn’t we? This brew is just one more point of proof that the English really know how to brew some amazing beer.
Ok, so the history is simply interesting, but you’ve apparently missed the important notes. This brew aged on the journey and didn’t go sour. Following now? This means that these brews will hold out in your cabinet, refrigerator, etc. and just get better with time. Not too much time, because anything can go bad given enough time, but knowing this brew will hold over means you can fill up a growler, take it home, and enjoy it later. Way later. Pretty great right?
Russian Imperial Stouts are also known for their hoppy delicious flavors. Ones like Stone Brewing’s version Stone Imperial Russian Stout lay claims such as being “As decadent as sin” and, honestly, we can’t argue with them. That brew is rich, chocolatey goodness that lasts to the final drop. The chocolate theme is not uncommon with these brews, as the hints of cocoa tend to linger within each one to a degree.
There are several RIS labels out there that are amazing. However, since you asked, we’ll point out a few more here for you to try. Clown Shoes offers a great version called Blaecorn Unidragon and we have to admit this brew is excellent. We expect that out of the Clown Shoes line, but this one surprised even us, as it was above and beyond the quality we expect from them. The art on the label is amazing as well. We kind of wish we had a wall art version to hang up because the artwork on their brews is worth decorating with!
Another option is Firestone Walker’s Parabola. This is an oatmeal stout that truly does show how versatile the Firestone family are. After all, they’ve gone from tires to wine and now, on to craft beer! Yes, folks, this is the same Firestone family you recognize from the tire commercials. Amazing right? Here they’ve created an outstanding oatmeal stout in the RIS style that is a complete glass of contradiction. Although the brew itself is darn near black, the head is close to white. And though you’d expect a stout to have a pretty strong aroma, this one has a delicate aroma that you work to discern. We suggest grabbing one if you get the chance and enjoy the ride while you work through the complexities of this barrel aged stout.
Why yes, there certainly are more. Such as Founders Brewing Company’s outstanding label Founders Imperial Stout. A nearly black brew with a gorgeous caramel colored head to it, this beer also sports a 10.5% ABV! If you’re into complex brews, this is certainly one you want to try. A mix of ten different malted barleys are used to create this masterpiece and the result is rich, smooth, and delicious!
Finally, we come to Brooklyn Brewery, who we recently included in our article about New York breweries. These guys make one heck of a chocolate stout and their Black Chocolate Stout, though seasonal, is an absolute must-try brew. And why is this just a seasonal brew? Well, when you have the option to age a brew for a few years in the bottle, you don’t really need to have it available year-round right? Grab a few if you get the chance and enjoy one now and another later to see what differences you can find!
We hope you get a chance to try a few of the great brews we’ve mentioned here. Even if you’ve never tried an RIS style brew before, you really should give it a go. After all, craft beer is all about adventure and trying new things, so join in on the fun and grab a few to try for yourself!