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Bigger is always better, right? Well Russian royalty set that template for imperial stouts centuries ago, and it lives on today. After acquiring a taste for British stouts, the Russian royal court wanted more. But they wanted an even better version. Translation: more booze. Descending from the Russian imperial stout of those days, we now have incredibly dark stouts that pop up as snow starts to fall. Full of hops, they've got a ton of bitterness to balance out a roasted chocolaty flavor and alcohol levels that often reach above 10% ABV.
Ideal Serving Temperature:
Warm (55-60 degrees)
Snifter, tulip or pint glass
Imperial stouts can be stored for 5-10 years, often resulting in increased complexity. Make sure to keep them away from light in a place with consistent humidity and temperatures between 55-60 degrees. Always store beer standing up. When you're ready to finally crack it open, there's no need to refrigerate it in advance. Serve it at the temperature it was stored at.
What Are the Characteristics of Imperial Stout?
On the International Bitterness Unit scale, the imperial stout is in the 90 to 100 range, making it one of the hoppiest beers on the planet. Beer drinkers who have imagined a harmonious marriage of Guinness and an IPA will freak when the first drop hits their lips. Just about any type of malt or hops are used in the brewing process. That doesn't mean you can easily recreate an imperial stout, with its dark bitterness and high alcohol content.
How Should I Drink an Imperial Stout?
To get the best of its complex flavor, store the stout away from direct sunlight in a cool place, making sure to keep it away from light in a place with consistent humidity. Like your gym membership, you can then forget about it for up to 10 years, which imparts an even bolder flavor. When you're ready to pop the top, drink it at room temperature in a pint glass, snifter or tulip glass. There's no reason to scarf down a meal before, during or after imbibing one of these heavy, dark beauties. If you feel you must eat while you drink, bust out some chocolaty concoction, preferably a mousse or cake. Ding Dongs are a fair choice if you forget to go to the grocery store. You should also remember to drink an imperial stout at room temperature or slightly below to get the best flavors out of the drink.
Why Drink an Imperial Stout?
Drinking an imperial stout is an adventure in the beer realm. It's not like anything you've had in the past, yet it's just familiar enough to make you want to try it. Dark beer drinkers will find it a perfect fit, and even lighter beer drinkers will enjoy its interesting flavors. You probably shouldn't start with a Bud Light and move to an imperial stout. But if you've ever watched a romance flick followed by a superhero movie, it might be right up your alley.