Nøgne Ø: Imperial Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Good froth on pour. Creamy coffee head. Not a hugely long lasting head, but it does exist longer than most at this abv.

Nose: Strong roasted popping nuts character with a hint of sour cream at the edges. Chives.  Smoke and maybe an odd touch of peppermint?  Almost toothpasty? Definitely different. There is a very booze heavy blackcherry styling.

Body: Solid. Subtle bitter frothy chocolate. Slightly sherbet like lemon feel and taste. Nuttiness grows. Moderate bitter back.  Slight roughness to the texture. Some pepper and peppermint over time.

Finish:  Grain cereals. Bitter chocolate comes in lightly then grows in intensity. Dry dusty feel. Peppercorn.

Conclusion: Good thing this came in a big bottle. The first few mouthfuls I took had me confused. There was very distinct…flavour, and yes definitely….. flavour styled flavours. In other words I could not pin it down worth a damn. It had definite character but not one with an easily described shape.  Time helped move past that initial confusion.

Possible the confusion came, somewhat paradoxically, from its simplicity. The main body is robust, yet straightforward. Not a criticism, it treats its style with elegant simplicity. Anything extraneous has been stripped out.

Now some of you may have noticed the somewhat long list of elements I put for the nose, and may be questioning exactly what I mean by “simplicity”. Rather than attempt to answer this, or pass you off to Karl Popper for an intricate examination may I just reply thus. I said the “first few mouthfuls” , a reference which I hoped indicated I was talking about the main body. The nose is an altogether different and confusing beast, so I had hoped to put it off until later in the review.

So, that explained shall we start on discussing the aroma then?  Most of the oddities come from when you have chilled the beer. I mean, chives? Peppermint? I am not entirely sure that they disappeared as the beer warmed as opposed to me just getting used to their presence. Either way, they may not be the archetypal stout aromas, but I must say they were a fun change.  It well worth playing with the beers temperature just to see what it will do. Lets face it you can always let it warm back to its more standard stout styling.

A solid imperial stout, taking simplicity yet quality as its mission statement. I can’t complain. Very much bitter chocolate and roasted nuts take on the style, with a peppery flourish as its doffed cap to a new styling. Not epic like some Imperial Stouts can be, but solid as a rock.

Background: Drunk to unwind on a Friday night. Whilst I have only had it a short while the bottle labelling indicates that this is a year old.  Nøgne Ø have been pretty solid so far, with robust expressions of the style. Not much wild experimentation yet, but heavy in character.