So the myth goes that Peter the Great, while visiting England, discovered strong porters (or a “stout” porter), and took the recipe back with him to Russia.

While a great story, The Russian Tsar’s visit to Britain predates the appearance of Imperial Stouts in Russian beer halls and courts for a good 30 years.

English Stout and Porters along with their recipes appeared in the Baltics and North West Russia courtesy of trade in the 18th century. Imperial Stouts became popular in the craft beer world after the Iron Curtain fell and the recipes were rediscovered.

This Isn’t Guinness, Kids…

I have Craft Beer Diaries founder Danny Brown to blame.

I found out about the fall release of NIckelbook’s Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout courtesy of a post of his and, being a fan of Wellington County and Indie Ale House’s Imperial Stouts, I wanted to review this.

Nicklebrook Brewery was started in Burlington, Ontario, and is in the process of building a destination brewery in the Niagara region, and keeping their original location for small batch experiments and a bottle shop.

While known for their Extra Special Bitter and IPA, Nicklebrook makes some spectacular seasonal dark beers.

The Bolshevik Bastard is a strong beer and the malts including chocolate, dark chocolate, flaked oats, carafra special III, and crystal make for a nice thick pour with a full body.

Nickel Brook Bolshevik Bastard

I get a lot of cocoa, toffee and dark fruit tasting notes in this beer, lots of flavour for the taste buds to experience.

Although the alcohol by volume (ABV) hits 9%, this would make for a very sweet taste profile if it weren’t for the hops.

The international bitterness units (IBU) clock in at 70 but it doesn’t taste bitter either. The amount of hops added neutralizes the sweetness giving you a really nice stout flavour.

Bolshevik Bastard is definitely an “at home in the evening beer” for after dinner sipping, though you can have it with dinner too. This is an imperial stout that will appeal to hard-core stout fans.

For those who might be intimidated, try it anyway, especially if you like chocolate.

Just one aside – after a recent visit to the Nickelbrook bottle shop, staff told me a few complaints were lodged at the LCBO regarding the packaging graphics. The cans will have new graphics at some point but it will still be a tasty imperial stout.

Na Zdrovovye!

  • ABV: 9.0%
  • IBU: 70
  • Style: Black ale with tan head and red tinge
  • Rating: 4.8/5
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Bill Smith
Bill Smith is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photography geek, ski bum, explorer and outdoors enthusiast. He has been seen in Toronto, Oakville and off the beaten path. Favourite beers include well-brewed IPAs, brown ales, porters and pale ales.
Bill Smith
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