are black ales that take their distinctive coffee-like
flavors from blackened barley malt. The most popular — dry Irish stouts like Guinness — are on a par with
"light" beers in alcohol. However, Imperial
Stouts are the pinnacle of the black beer family;
strong, rich and densely malty. They take their
name from historic popularity with the Russian
czars and their court. Thanks to this style, "imperial"
has entered the beer lexicon, implying boosted
concentration, strength and sweetness. As black
as espresso with a creamy café-au-lait-colored head, Victory's
Imperial Stout is an American benchmark of the style.
Easier to drain than its alcohol content would suggest,
each sip manages to satisfy and pique the appetite
at once. Decadent mocha and molasses flavors dominate,
while playful fruit notes emerge in the finish, reminiscent
of brandied cherries or cassis liqueur. "Storm King"
is a noble choice for sipping after dinner, alone
or accompanied by Roquefort cheese or a flourless