- On January 21, 2016
It’s been cold. Really cold. We all know that there’s no better beverage on a hot summer day than a chilled-down beer, but now that we’re getting a full dose of Minnesota winter you might want to stray away to find heartier things to sip on because, you know, beer is light and refreshing and fizzy. Right? Wrong. There’s a beer style for every occasion. The spectrum of modern craft beer is so vast that every season, every temperature, and every food pairing has a beer soul-mate just waiting to be discovered. And when it’s negative fifteen degrees on your drive home from work, there’s a beer style for that. And that beer style is Imperial Stout.
In the early 1700s, porters and stouts were all the rage in England. These beers ranged from roughly 5%-7% ABV and included varying amounts of dark roasted malt with very low hop presence. They were so immensely popular that demand grew in far-away countries including Russia. When Peter the Great requested that stout be imported from England, the initial delivery of beer arrived spoiled from the long journey. Brewers in England wanted to find a way to make stout that could survive the trek, so they upped the intensity, adding more malt for more fermentable sugar, which resulted in a higher alcohol content; as well as more hops, which can act as a natural preservative and antiseptic. The resulting beer was intense. Rich, roasty, and boozy with a big velvety texture, Imperial stout was born. Although the style (like so many others) fell out of favor post prohibition, there has been a major resurgence of Imperial Stouts in the American craft brewing scene. Next time you just can’t seem to warm up, crack one of these beautiful beers and show the Winter who’s boss.
Here are a few picks that are currently in stock to get you started:
Lift Bridge “Silhouette” – An Imperial Stout brewed in Stillwater, MN and suitable for the Northern Woods. It features notes of chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit and clocks in at 10% ABV.
Ballast Point “Sea Monster” – This San Diego brewery has an excellent track record, and their Imperial Stout is no exception. It’s brewed with oats to give it an even-silkier body, and then balanced out with Columbus and Amarillo hops.
Founders “Imperial Stout” – This Michigan-brewed Imperial Stout is a beauty. It’s one of the best beers to cozy up with by the fire, and if you don’t have a fireplace the 10.5% ABV will warm you up plenty. It also cellars like a champ; over time the alcohol presence dies down and it develops more complex malt flavors akin to dessert wine and dark fruit. Highly recommended.