As with IPA, when British brewers wanted to ship their Stout to a far off location (in this case Baltic regions), they increased the amount of hops and alcohol in the beer to act as preservatives. Imperial Stout may have been born to satisfy this commercial need, but its enduring popularity is a testament to its rich and luxurious depth of flavour. This style soon became popular among Russian nobility of the 18th century, and you’ll still see many “Russian Imperial Stouts” doing the rounds today.
Modern Imperial Stouts tend to combine a traditional approach to brewing with added bursts of flair and boundary-pushing flavour combinations. Bold and roasty profiles are prevalent across all Imperial Stouts, while many have notes of coffee, chocolate, dark fruits and molasses. Many brewers, like Amundsen & Naparbier, experiment with adjuncts, and the Imperial Pastry Stout has become a popular subgenre of this style. The style has a broad international appeal with breweries like Pühaste of Estonia and Laugar from Spain, as well as many UK & US breweries notable proponents of this style.