Black Sheep: Imperial Russian Stout  (England: Imperial Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: A very dark mahogany red that seems black unless held to the light. A loose beige bubbled head.

Nose:  Liquorice. Sour black cherry. Malt. Slightly musty. Grain and wholemeal.

Body:  Heaps of those little black liquorice bits.  Sour sweet chews. Roasted nuts. Slight malted drink. Sour cream.  Smooth textured through all of this.

Finish: Liquorice again. Malt chocolate. Pistachios. Dry malt. More sour cream.

Conclusion:  Bloody hell, did they just drop huge liquorice chunks into this or something!  If that statement doesn’t give it away let me put it more plainly.  There is a heck of a lot of liquorice flavours in this beer. Probably too much I would say.

That and slight fruit sourness makes it different from a lot of imperial stouts, though not in a way that overly appeals to me.

Its other distinctive element is that it calls massively to the Baltic porter style, with that almost sour cream taste to it.  It’s a style that can work, but the abv seems to push the cloying nature way to the front and makes it not quite work as well as it does in those porters.

Now a lot of this comes down to personal taste, as it is put together impressively, just not in a way that appeals to me.  For example, the way the flavour clings gives an impression of a much thicker beer than it actually is. Very clever, very well done, but again this emphasises the elements that re not to my particular tastes.

That said it’s not a bad beer and I didn’t begrudge drinking it, but it was put together for someone who drank a Baltika 6 and thought, this needs to be an Imperial Stout! So not me then.
Ah well.

Background: Picked up at the bottle shop in York. This is a limited release beer, and since Black Sheep brewery have been pretty solid so far I thought it was worth a shot. The Black Sheep brewery is from Ripon, which is in North Yorkshire. Which means it is automatically sodding awesome. No I am not biased. Why do you ask? I have had a lot of Imperial Stouts in the cupboard recently, I may be in danger of becoming blasé.