England- Russian Imperial Stout- 7% ABV. This is a rich, flavorful, deep chocolate colored beer with a roasted barley nose. The complexity of malt, hops, alcohol and yeast meld to create a beautiful mouth feel and finish. Confirmed vegan by The Vegan Society.
There’s a stout style originally from England called “Russian Imperial”? Yes. As English brewers first did with Baltic Porter, they came to brew a stronger version of an existing beer, in response to both a direct request and to necessity. The request came from Russian Emperor Peter the Great after a trip to England around 1700, during which he took a great liking to the dark beer that would become known as porter. His first order was shipped to St. Petersburg, but arrived spoiled from the long voyage. Not taking any chances with the second attempt, brewers increased the alcohol and hops to very high levels for a shipment that arrived in drinkable condition – and pleased the czar tremendously.
He continued to order this English beer for himself and his imperial court, where it became a staple, and through the years his heirs and successors, including Catherine the Great, continued the practice with a keen taste for the brew. This was history’s first “imperial” strength version of a particular beer, and the term is now applied to other beer styles, like Imperial IPA. Imperial stout beers typically reach into double-digit ABV levels and are packed with flavor.
Like porter, Russian Imperial Stout fell out of favor during the last century and nearly became extinct. The Imperial Beer style has been resurrected in recent decades by American craft brewers seeking to “go big” with their beers, so most examples available today are American-brewed.
Dark red-copper to deep, dark brown in color, the best Russian Imperial Stout expresses complexities of aroma and flavor from its high alcohol and abundance of malt and hop character. Look for variations between brands, with typical characteristics including a smooth, full mouth-feel delivering rich malts that can evoke chocolaty, coffee, caramel, toasty, roasty and/or burnt aromas and flavors. Esters of dark fruits, such as plum and fig, are often present, providing balance to the malts, along with sufficient hop bitterness to tame the sweetness. Some citrusy and floral American hop aromas may be present. Many modern examples are cellar-aged, and will evolve in character over time.
Founded in 1758 in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England, Samuel Smith – also known as The Old Brewery – is indeed the oldest brewery in Yorkshire. With traditional brewing methods used since its founding, the brewery still makes its own barrels and repairs all of its oak casks. The original well, sunk in 1758, is still in use, with its gypsum-rich hard brewing water drawn from 85 feet underground.
Samuel Smith’s ales and stouts are fermented in stone Yorkshire squares made of solid slabs of slate, which give the beers a fuller-bodied taste. The yeast is of the same strain used in the 19th century. Samuel Smith beers are brewed solely from natural ingredients without any chemical additives, raw-material adjuncts, artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings or preservatives.
The little town of Tadcaster is home to three breweries, and the Samuel Smith brewery produces less than 5 percent of the beer made there. Fortunately, some of their beer is exported to the United States, including Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Lager, Pale Ale, India Ale, Organic Lager, Organic Ale, Organic Cherry, Raspberry and Strawberry fruit beers, Nut Brown Ale, Taddy Porter, Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout.
Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal and Imperial Stouts are classic examples of Old World British Stouts. The Oatmeal Stout has an almost opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth texture with a complex medium-dry palate and bittersweet finish. The Imperial Stout, at 7 percent ABV, is a rich, flavorful brew that pours a deep chocolate color with a roasted barley nose and delivers a complex flavor from malt, hops, alcohol and yeast.
Source: Samuel Smith