Episode 84: Style Profile – Russian Imperial Stout

Our intrepid hosts walk us through Russian Imperial Stouts. We review the guidelines, history and have a “CRUCIBLE OF DOOooo0oOOOM!”

April 26, 2018 57:56
Download (MP3)

Our intrepid hosts walk us through Russian Imperial Stouts. We review the guidelines, history and have a “CRUCIBLE OF DOOooo0oOOOM!”

Russian Imperial Stout

Style Overview

Our Impressions: Very complex like a dark barleywine. Black as night with a strong alcohol warmth. We’d picture ourselves in front of a fire with a tulip glass and a smoking jacket.

BJCP Guidelines: 20C Imperial Stout

ABV: 8 – 12
IBU: 50 – 90
SRM: 30 – 40

Commercial Examples:

American: Bell’s Expedition Stout, Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout, Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout

English – Courage Imperial Russian Stout, Le Coq Imperial Extra.

Style History

  1. Started off as strong English Porters that were popular with the Russian Imperial Court.
    1. Peter the Great fell in love with stouts during his 1698 trip to England, and he requested that some be sent to the Imperial court in Russia. Much to the embarrassment of the English, the beer had spoiled somewhere along its tedious thousand-mile journey! Determined as always to save face, the Barclay brewery of London came to the rescue by rapidly increasing the amount of alcohol and hops for their second effort.
  2. Because of the Napoleonic wars the beer trade was interrupted.
  3. The style all but died out until the modern craft beer era when it was revived in England and reimagined in the US with more American characteristics like hoppier varieties.
    1. The John Courage Brewery continued to brew its Imperial Stout, with the boast on its label that it was originally brewed by Imperial order of Catherine the Great, up until the 1990s. While hugely popular through the 19th century, Porters had fallen away completely from consumer’s tastes by the end of the 20th Century.
  4. Currently Imperial Stouts are  widely available in both their American forms but English varieties can also be found. Popular examples include:
    1. North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
    2. Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
    3. Samuel Smith Imperial Stout

Beer Reviews

Beer #1: North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout

ABV: 9%


  • Mark: Pint
  • Kevin: Bomber
  • Justin: Bomber

Beer #2: Boulevard Dark Truth

ABV: 9.7%
IBU’s: 60


  • Mark: Bomber
  • Kevin: Pint
  • Justin: Pint

Beer #3: Evil Twin Aún Más A Jesús

ABV: 12%


  • Mark: Growler
  • Kevin: Pint
  • Justin: Growler


Best Tasting: Evil Twin
Most Interesting: Boulevard Dark Truth
Closest to Style: Old Rasputin