Catherine II ruled over Russia’s Golden Age, though it was her allegedly voracious sexual appetites that have made her something of a legend. Pretty ridiculous, really, when what we should know her for is popularizing one of the world’s great beer styles: imperial stouts.
See, way back in the 18th Century, Thrale’s Brewery in England brewed a big, imposing dark beer for export to Catherine’s court. The beer became known as Russian Imperial Stout, and today it’s one of the most popular styles among those who like their beers bold and aggressive.
One of the very best on the market is by Stone. Their Imperial Russian Stout -- yes, they reverse "Russian Imperial" on purpose -- is dark as night and just loaded with powerful chocolate, cocoa, and bitter roast coffee, along with the generous hopping Stone is known for. It really gives your senses a workout, yet amazingly, you’d never notice it’s a whopping 10.5% ABV.
Oh, and did I mention how affordable it is? Stone's price per bomber is far lower than comparable beers of the same style, sometimes by half. Without question, this is one of the best beer bargains on the planet. Thanks, Catherine!
NOTE: Portions of this post originally appeared in The Philadelphia Weekly