Imperial Stouts: Comprehensive Guide To This Dark Beer

Imperial Stouts are a popular beer style around the world. This article takes a deep dive into the specifics of the style from where it originated to what types of hops are used. First of all some vital statistics of this dark mysterious brew… Style: Imperial Stout Country of Origin: England Alcohol: 8-12% (sometimes more!) Colour: Very dark brown to jet black What is an Imperial Stout? Imperial Stouts, first brewed in London, England by Thrale's Anchor Brewery for the Empress of Russia, Catherine II, are the highest in alcohol of all the Stouts. Historical sources indicate that the original beers had an alcohol percentage upwards of 10%. The higher alcohol content (and larger hop additions) were said to help the beer survive the journey to Russia by sea. Notable examples are rich and complex in flavour, with a big 'chewy' mouthfeel and lower carbonation. Hop character can range from subtle, all the way to massive. A popular beer style for brewers to add adjuncts (additional flavour) to, such as chocolate, coffee, coconut, lactose, vanilla, chili, maple syrup, sticky date pudding - the list goes on! Their high alcohol content makes them a great beer style for aging, sometimes in oak, often in barrels that previously held bourbon, whiskey or wine. Where did the Imperial Stout originate? Strong stouts were brewed in England for export to the royal courts of Russia as early as the 1700s. The cold climate was an ideal match for darker beers with a slight warming sensation from the higher alcohol content for which English breweries had already gained a reputation for producing beers like this. Unfortunately, after an initial period of popularity, the style suffered a decline during the early to mid 20th Century thanks to the emergence of the pale ale. However, when Samuel Smith's Brewery brewed a version for export to the United States in the 1980s, the American craft beer community embraced the style and today it remains one of the most popular styles brewed. So much so that now most craft breweries have at least one version in their line up, usually as a limited release during winter months. The craft beer community usually ...
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