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Russian Imperial Stout Reviews

British brewers originally crafted these high-octane stouts to export to Russia, where they were said to be favored by the Imperial Court. Now, both English and American brewers have embraced the style, producing variations that extract remarkable intricacies from regional ingredients. Aromas are always complex and intense with maltiness, alcohol, low to moderate dark fruit esters, muted to aggressive hops, and most importantly, loads of roasted grains that translate as coffeelike, chocolaty or slightly burnt. Powerful and concentrated in flavor, Imperial stouts all have a definite bitterness, dark fruit esters, more roasted grains and maltiness that ranges from soft and balanced to rich and barleywinelike. Taste nuances tend to differ according to region; American interpretations display more bitterness, hops and roasted characteristics, while English ones flaunt their fruity esters and sweet malt. ABVs stretch from 8 to 12 percent, so a smooth alcohol warmth should be obvious in all adaptations. These stouts’ many multifaceted flavors seem to melt in a very full-bodied mouthfeel that’s chewy, velvety and barely carbonated, but never syrupy.

Pair: These beers’ gargantuan flavors can overpower many foods, but their strength stands up to equally resilient aged cheeses, foie gras and truffles. Imperial stouts also make great companions for chewy oatmeal raisin cookies; the beers’ malt accentuates their sweetness, while the brews’ dark fruit ribbons echo the raisins in the cookies.

Glassware: pint glass or snifter


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