Samuel Smith: Imperial Stout (England: Imperial Stout: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown with a small coffee cream bubbled head of coffee froth styling. The head leaves milk chocolate froth looking trails as it bubbles away.

Nose:  Roasted nuts, condensed cream in the undertows. Wholemeal bread, hot milk chocolate and treacle. Sea weed, aniseed, and sea watered stones. Roasted coffee beans, black cherry and liquorice.

Body: Big all roasted front, nuts, liquorice and bitter chocolate. Rock salt. Lots of treacle, sushi wrappings and praline mix together.

Finish: Light bitter, dustiness and roasted touches. Bitter chocolate gratings, dry crushed nuts.  The bitterness grows as it mixes with greenery and salt.

Conclusion:  Finally I got around to a tasting note from the legendry Samuel Smith brewery, and to celebrate I go with what is possibly the first Imperial Stout I ever tried. A relatively restrained 7%, but that hides the fact that it is a harsh edged beast with heavy roasted elements in coffee bean, mixed with nuts, sea breeze and seaweed that reminds me of some Islay whiskies.

It may be the sentimentality getting to me but it still is a fantastic Imperial Stout, restrained but powerful and of very unique styling , heading in a different direction to most of the pack.  It holds your attention long after you finished sipping.

Old style harsh and kicking beer with a wonderful aroma, that whilst not quite matching Good King Henry for range of notes, is still a massive amount to sniff and enjoy.  It’s slow growing to sip, odd for an Imperial Stout, but it’s balanced to grow to a climax rather than hit everything instantly

This makes it a fantastically subtly crafted Imperial Stout that’s still got plenty of flavour.  Traditional and far from dull as such a term normally implies. Top of the game.

Background: According to its website, Samuel Smiths is the oldest brewery in Yorkshire, and it is in my opinion the undisputed master of traditional style ales in England.  Of course as a northerner I would say that.  Their imperial stout was possibly the first Imperial Stout I ever had, and has shaped my opinions of the style since, therefore I was happy to be able to make this my long needed first Samuel Smith tasting note.