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Temperatures are in the 90s and the weekends are getting more and more pool-friendly, so why is practically every brewery in America is releasing their imperial stout now? Do they think June is the time when beer drinkers slap on the sunscreen and lean back in a beach chair with a snifter of 11 percent abv, bourbon barrel-aged, deathly thick imperial stout?
And yet that’s what’s flooding our stores right now, including Duck-Rabbit Russian Imperial Stout, Great Lakes Blackout Stout, Stone Imperial Russian Stout, and Goose Island‘s original and coffee iterations of Bourbon County Stout. But it makes sense when you consider that these boozy, malt-forward beers are excellent candidates for cellaring, as Clay Risen writes in the Atlantic. Stored in proper conditions (ideally 45 to 55 degrees, and in the dark), an imperial stout will mellow, losing some of its alcohol burn and gaining malty complexity as the yeast continues to feed off of the beer’s residual sugar. This is a particularly good application for lesser imperial stouts, which can be hot with alcohol — given a year or two, even a mediocre bottle will become snifter-worthy.