Around 18th century, Peter the Great opened Czarist Russia to the West. As you imagine, the immediate result of this move was that the commerce and economy between Czarist Russia and Western European countries flourished. At that time, Arthur Guiness had just took “Porter” recipes from England to Ireland while he increased the dark, coffee-tinted profile of the style. He also added “Extra Stout” sign on the label of Guiness beer, which makes him the founder of the new beer style called “Stout”.
In 1698, Peter the Great travelled to England and tasted stout. He immediately adored it and he asked for some to be sent to his court in Russia. The English brewers sent some stout but during the long journey, the beer arrived spoiled at its destination. In order to resolve the issue, stout brewers increased alcohol level and hops (both act as natural preservatives in beer). As a result, the beer got more complex, warm and heavy bodied. It was the birth of a new beer style called “Russian Imperial Stout”.
Some decades later Empress Catherine the Great of Russia, who really enjoyed Imperial Stout, ordered some stout from the famous “Thrale’s Anchor Brewery”. In 1796 Thrale’s supplied Imperial Stout “that would keep seven years” to the Empress of Russia.
During the last years (2010s and afterwards), Imperial Stout is living a new age of prosperity. Many craft breweries along the world, brew new recipes with higher ABV and secondary fermentation additions such as chocolate, coffee, oak chips, cocoa nibs and even vanilla.