Brewing seems to have a thing for historical figures. They have named a few
brews after them, after all. Not too long ago I enjoyed a big old bottle of
Avery’s The Kaiser
, described as an uber-Oktoberfest. The bottle sports a picture of
Germany’s famous Kaiser Wilhelm II on the label.
Not to be outdone, the Russians have a monarch (and a beer style) worthy of celebration as well. The Czar is a Russian Imperial Stout, and a big one at that. Black as a Siberian night, it’s rich and roasty, potent and warming with a hefty alcohol content. The label here features the Romanov Czar Nicholas II, last of his line. Interestingly enough, both Czar and Kaiser stem from the same Latin word: Caesar. Loosely translated, they both mean emperor. Can The Queen, an IPA named after Queen Victoria, be far behind?
Imperial stouts are big beers at is. They’re rich and roasty and usually high in alcohol, perhaps 9% to 10% by volume. Avery’s Czar is stronger still at a whopping 11.03%. That means that a single twenty two ounce bottle has about as much alcohol as four 12 ounce bottles of most brews. So drink with caution.
Everything is big about the Czar. The original gravity is a weighty 1.104, which means there’s a lot of fermentables to give you that high alcohol content and non-fermentables to give you all that rich body. There’s a lot of hops, too. A full 70 IBUs worth, though much of that is balanced by the body of the beer.
Imperial stouts are one of my favorite styles. They were originally brewed strong in England to survive the trip through the North Atlantic and the Baltics to the court of the Czars. They were not, however, actually brewed in Russia.
The Czar does the imperial stout tradition proud. I easily fill a 20-ounce “true” pint glass from my bomber bottle, and still have more left over. The liquid is inky black with a light but creamy tan head. The nose is coffee roasty and enticing. Should I save some for morning in lieu of my usual cup of Joe?
I take a sip. The mouthfeel is full and very rich. It slides across the tongue in a decadent, luxuriant manner. I get bittersweet dark chocolate, powdered cocoa, raisin, All Sorts licorice, spice cake, rich roasty espresso. A little bit of phenols distract in the finish, but not too much. A big roasty bitterness and restoring alcohol warmth finish the beer off nicely. A wonderful sipping brew, perfect for frigid Moscow nights. Or frigid nights wherever you happen to find yourself.
And although Nicholas wasn’t fond of him, if you enjoy this beer you’ll also like North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, too.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.