Peter the Great + Barclay Financial = Russian Imperial Stout!


GOP Ian and I was chatting during break, and he was talking about his latest visit to Costco and the craft beers they carry now.He ran down a list of beers he bumped into…from lagers to Hefs, Ales etc… but one stood out to me– a Russian Imperial Stout. Now we all know that Russians love there vodka, maybe, too much, they actually had to sancation the fermented potatoe because of early death rates.

Boris Yeltsin

Boris Yeltsin

And how can we not forget about Russian’s President Boris Yeltsin and his tyraid of public drunkeness.

There is now doubt that the Russians like to get tipsy. And the Russian Imperial Stout, is by far, a heavy ABV hitter, literally the Ivan Drago of beers,  so this beer brought many questions. How did this Vodka loving country manage to get their own personal beer style recipe? I mean, I don’t ever hear about a Filipino Pac-Man Stout??? So, I did some investigating and found some interesting facts and history.

As we all know, or maybe not? Stouts and Porters originated in England and neighboring countries, found mostly around ports and named after the helping hands of the ports – called “Porters” – We can trace the birth of the Russian Imperial Stout/Porter – to Peter the Great and his visit to Western European countries.

Peter the Great , circa 1700 – the Czar of Russia. Who was responsible for Westernizing Russia with his staunch land

Russian Tsar Peter the Great

Russian Tsar – Peter the Great

reforms, built the capital of St. Petersburg and constructed a formidable military. He basically put Russia on the map!

In his thirst for a perinnieal Navy – he visited Western European countries, most notable; England. During his visit to England, Peter the Great was offered his first Stout/Porter and fell in love with the chocolate-like barely beer. In fact, he loved it so much, Peter brought back home a vat to discover that the beer had spoiled and froze during the journey back home.

Barclay Brewery who brewed the stout, – quickly found a solution. They increased the alcohol and hop contents that boosted the shelf life of the beer and drastically changing the hue color of the beer, leaving a dark chocolate -coffee oil slick appearance. Thus the birth of the Russian Imperial Stout was born. The beer became an instant hit in Russia, beer no longer had the stimiga of just being a blue collar work force Spirit beverage but also a royal beverage! Thus “Imperial” signifying – class status. On a side note Barclay Brewery was part owned by the Barclay Financial banking family! Can you imagine that, beer was responsible for Barclay’s global success! sort of. Russian Empress, Catherine the Great (1729-1796) would continue to purchase

Barclay Russian Stout the coffee like froth.

Thrales Anchor Brewery brewed for Catherine the Great for several years and

then 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, up until the 1990s! The beer trade, via the Baltic Sea route, from England to Russia lasted for 200 years!

the Russian Stout was fading out by the turn of the 20th century. Production of the Russian Stout seized and local breweries favored different style beers, like Lagers and traditional Ales, coupled with change of ownerships and catastrophic events to some breweries e.g. fires. The Russian Stout went dormant, but like Mt. St. Helen, it has erupted again!

The newfound bravado and quirkiness of the emerging craft brewing scene in the U.S. has brought back and have reincarnated the Russian Imperial Stout recipe with bolder flavors and higher AVB’s- that would make your chest hairs grow, like a Chia Pet!

In recent  years English brewers have rekindled the Imperial trade route – retracing the Baltic beer route. I believe this Baltic beer run event has become an annual event, with participating regional Breweries, sponsoring the event, and contributing their custom Russian Imperial Stout along the way.

The Imperial Stouts/Porters are winter beers, served between temps of 55-60 degrees, and usually poured in a sniffer glass (pic below), to help smell the complexity of roast /Chocolate aromas with a faint smooth like milky texture.

Imperial Stout - Snifter Glass

Imperial Stout – Snifter Glass

The Russian Imperial Stout is one sexy beast with a Royal history. Peter and Catherine would have been proud with the new renditions.

Hey, I have an idea, with the recent tensions with Russia and President Putin flexing his iron fest. I will volunteer my civil services, with an  American style Russian Imperial Stouts at tow, trek to the Kremlin and discuss with our comrades how we are so similar in cultures and enjoy the finer things in life, while drinking the Amer-Russo Imperial Stout! –  this should ease tensions. Wow, I feel like Denise Rodman when he visited North Korea. Till next time – cheers!



~ by Golden Foam Notes on August 14, 2014.

One Response to “Peter the Great + Barclay Financial = Russian Imperial Stout!”

  1. GOP in the hizzy here. You don’t see many Russian beers on the market and that surprises me, considering the size of Russia, the fact that they are able to grow grains, such as wheat, and like you said, Russian’s have nothing against alcohol. Maybe beer is seen as kind of weak by Vodka chugging Comrades, not sure, just a theory. I like stouts like Guinness, but not enough to go out and buy them over other beers, unless it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, but I might give this Russian version a try just out of curiosity. The nicest thing about stout beers is that they go down smoooooth. For people who don’t usually drink beer (women lol), these tend to be the ones where they say “hmm, well that one isn’t too bad” because they tend to hide the alcohol better and the reduced carbonation helps them go down easier. On the down side, they don’t leave you feeling very refreshed. Next time I see this beer at Costco I will pick it up, pound it, and advise!

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