Lasting from 1721 until 1917, Imperial Russia was one of the most powerful empires that ever existed, with an intriguing and shocking history that has fascinated scholars all over the world. If you’ve ever enjoyed Black Sheep’s Imperial Russian Stout from our selection of craft beer in Malta, it might have made you thirsty for more knowledge about the Motherland – we’ve compiled some of the most interesting facts below!


1. Fun and Games

Peter the Great, a Russian tsar who came to power in the late 17th century, was renowned for his strange obsession with dwarfism. He would have little people put on shows or plays for his own amusement, always making sure a permanent entourage was present in his court. Naked dwarves leaping from giant pies were known to be a common spectacle during Peter’s rule, usually as entertainment during extravagant feasts at the royal palace.


2. Before Killing Eve, there was Killing Rasputin…

… and it wasn’t an easy job. It took copious amounts of cyanide, three gunshot wounds (two of which hit close to the heart and forehead), and a wild goose chase around a freezing cold courtyard to finally neutralise the Mad Monk of Russia. To ensure that he was really dead, his assailants wrapped his body in linen and threw him into an icy river to drown.


3. The Lost Romanov

One of the most tragic events during the Russian Revolution was undoubtedly the assassination of the Royal Romanov family. Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their five children were all executed by Bolshevik forces in July 1918. However, rumours still persist to this day that the youngest Romanov daughter, Anastasia, survived, and ran away to live elsewhere under a new identity. In fact, over 100 female imposters during the 20th century claimed to be the surviving Anastasia!


4. Holy rollers

Thought Scientology was bad? The Russian Orthodox Church was notorious for its sects and cults which flourished nationwide. Some of these were vastly disturbing in their ideology, including the Khlysty, who would express contempt for their physical bodies by whipping themselves. Their offshoot, the Skoptsy, stepped things up a notch with male and female castration, along with genital mutilation. Lovely.


5. Beware the Oprichniki

Occasionally referred to as the “Tsar’s Dogs,” the Oprichniki were secret police appointed by Ivan the Terrible. They wore black robes and carried severed dog’s heads wherever they went, as a warning to whoever they found guilty of treason.


People everywhere come Russian to get their hands on our selection of craft beer in Malta!

Na Zdorovie! Black Sheep Ale’s Imperial Russian Stout has a delicious, sprightly taste of peppery hops, balanced with sweet notes of liquorice and chocolate raisins and ending with a long, warming finish. To view the rest of our range of craft beer in Malta, visit our online shop, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for more updates!