8 Wired: IStout (New Zealand: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black with a deep brown froth that cannot survive in the high alcohol environ it is birthed in.

Nose: Treacle and cider toffee. Light roasted character. Slight chalk and a stewed apples style to its freshness

Body: Thick frothy texture with lots of sweet treacle. A big bitterness comes out in the middle to compensate. Molasses. Light hints of aniseed at times. Tiny amounts of rocks and salt add a slight edge. Tiramisu and cider toffee add a mix of sweet flavours.  Malt loaf. Milk chocolate. Slow building coffee.

Finish: Chocolate and a significant heap of bitterness. Camp fire smoke and ashes. Slight salt and grit. Slow growing hops. Even more cider toffee after a while. A slight sliced apple tartness. A mix of very bitter chocolate and coffee.

Conclusion: If I may start with a slight meandering digression.  You know how Islay whisky tends to be insanely distinctive, with rock and salt styling, all rough edged that you will either love or hate?  Even the milder distilleries such as Bunnahabhain have it as a notable element even if it is not dominant.

I bring that up as there is a similar character to this Imperial Stout, we aren’t talking Laphroaig level obviousness, but if I may compare to Bunnahabhain, it has a similar noticeable back whilst letting the forefront do its own thing.  This rough character is also evident in its hop level which is a notable, if not excessive part of the beer.

These elements, the rock, salt, and hops are laced throughout the main body until the hops take centre stage in the rising bitter finish.  Sometime the treacle and chocolate main body can seem underpowered early on in the beer, though they gain momentum and become much more forthright about half way through the bottle.

There is an interesting clash then from the rough flavour and the lovely smooth texture. In some ways reminds me of Southern Tiers Choklat Stout but without the same issue of pushing it to a level where it becomes irritating rather than intriguing.

Plenty of interesting flavours, from the cider toffee to the slight smoke, like most of 8 wired’s beers this is far from dull.  Best shows itself in its smooth texture and slow growing flavours, but some may be put off by the number of rough edges it brings to play.  For me it’s an impressive Imperial Stout, though not one of the best.

Background: Unfortunately nothing to do with my beloved IBeer, instead being a brew from the 8 Wired Brewery, so far notable for their excellent IPA (And according to my sister their Imperial IPA is even better, must keep an eye out for that) 8 Wired appears to be one of many brewers that use other peoples facilities to make their own beers.