Founded by Joey Redner in 2009 Cigar City Brewing has garnered some serious street cred amongst the beer drinking masses.

I remember when Cigar City was still young and difficult to find even in its home state of Florida. You either had to go to the source or know exactly when your local store was going to receive a fresh batch in order to imbibe the suds everyone in the southeast seemed to be talking about. Now-a-days there is rarely a bar, restaurant, or store in Florida that doesn’t sport a number of taps and bottles from the famed brewery. A lot of the success is due to Wayne Wambles who was brought on as headbrewer in the very early beginning days of the brewery. Wambles honed his chops under the wings of Gary Essex at Buckhead Brewery and Grill in Tallahassee where he won several medals at the World Beer Cup and GABF.

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov bottle

In March of 2016 a majority stake of Cigar City was sold to Fireman Capital Partners which adds them to the team of breweries under the umbrella known as the Oskar Blues Brewery Holdings. Current breweries in the portfolio are Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Perrin, Squatters, and Wasatch.

Today’s beer is one that Wambles has said that he had been working on years before he ever started at Cigar City. It’s a massive Russian imperial stout at 11.5 percent ABV, 60 IBUs and an original gravity of thirty degrees plato (1.129sg) this beer is named after the revered officer of the Soviet Union, Georgy Zhukov.

The pour is jet black and heavily viscous; some would say like motor oil but honestly if your motor oil looks like this you have some serious problems going on in your engine. The head is just over two fingers and has to be the darkest shade of brown I have ever seen top a beer. The aroma is fresh espresso with molasses added instead of the usual refined sugar. The roast character is certainly dominate and has a touch of smoke but there is a good note of dark fruits as well, think dates.

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov

The taste, oh the taste, is just so damn rich and full. Again hitting the front end with fresh roasty espresso and molasses leading to a slight chocolate sweetness that is well balanced on the back with a surprisingly strong hop bitterness. Maybe the roast quality is fooling me but I swear I get some smoky notes in there as well. It is difficult to describe the magnitude of heft when Marshal Zhukov hits my palate. The sheer density this beer has is almost unbelievable and yet it is not cloyingly sweet. In fact, it may need a bit more time to mellow out so as to lean the balance a touch more to the sweet side.

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov
BREWERY: Cigar City Brewing
LOCATION: Tampa, Fla.
STYLE: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.5 percent
IBU: 60
PRICE: $16.99
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
Legend has it that if you say his name three times while cupping a glass of Marshal Zhukov he will jump out, punch you in the mouth for disturbing his slumber, and then utter the words “capitalists pig” while receding back into the inky darkness. This is a massive beer that commands respect while rightfully being deserving of it. Marshal Zhukov should also be noted for being the base beer behind Cigar City’s much lauded Hunahpu’s imperial stout.
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