Wessex Brewery: Russian Stoat (England: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)
Visual: Black, with a thin off white dusting for a head.
Nose: Dust and dark chocolate. Sour cherries.
Body: Liquorice. Treacle and rich chocolate liquore. Molasses. Charring. A moderate bitter behind. Thick texture. Very sweet. Black cherry, Some coffee trace but not a main element. Sour cream.
Finish: Bitter coffee and liquorice dust. Sour drops sweets. Red wine.
Conclusion: Ah the imperial stout. Oft the big gun of a brewery and I style that I have been utterly spoilt on due to the effort some breweries put into their efforts. As of such I had to remind myself, this is a beer that you can get on tap in a local pub, turned out at the usual price for a pint. I should not expect it to live up to the insane efforts turned out at a tenner a bottle.
Thus when I took it as itself I found it a very sweet Imperial Stout, one that plays to molasses like levels at times. A good bitterness and charring at the back. There are a few little innovations in sour fruitiness in a black cherry style that platys from nose to finish. A bit of difference that makes all the, well, difference.
It’s full flavoured as it should be, more chocolate than coffee. The coffee is a side not for the most part. The slight sourness works well to keep the sweetness from becoming over much or ill tasting. There is also a slight sour cream, which is very much part of the traditional Russian Imperial Stout interpretation another element that helps keep it drinkable.
This doesn’t compete with the big guns but is a solid as heck Imperial Stout. For quality and style its closest competitor is probably Pitstops’ Sump. Sump however is the more refined and superior of the two beers. This is still well made however, full of flavour and I can’t complain in having had a chance to try it. Not the best, but could very well be the best of the selection you are offered at a given time and thus well worth trying.
Background: Drunk at a mini beer festival at the Assembly Inn. This was had just before and during a Sunday roast, though the majority of the notes were complete before the food arrived. This was the heaviest thing on the beer list so I allowed myself a half to round out the tasting note segment of the day. Imperial Stouts are one of my favourite styles for contemplation, but one I try to have not too often lest they become taken for granted. They are distinctly not anytime beers.