In today’s beer lingo, the words big and flavorful have taken a back seat to terms like intense, extreme, and the often used “imperial”. For over 250 years, one style, Russian Imperial Stout, has been living up to and often exceeding those descriptors. This big and dark beer started life in English breweries and evolved into a style that would allow it to survive the trip to Russia and the Baltic States. Early attempts to ship beer from England resulted in the receipt of spoiled beer by the Imperial Court of Russia. To deliver a drinkable product, brewers increased the amount of both alcohol and hops in the brew, both ingredients acted as preservatives. The recipients of this big rich brew were delighted to say the least. The isolationist tariffs that the Russian Government imposed in the 1820s applied to all imports, except stout. Now that is a testament to the love for this intense brew.