Bristol Beer Factory: Imperial Stout (England: Imperial Stout: 8.5% ABV)

Visual: Heavy black. It pours smooth and has a slightly viscous sheen where it passes. Smooth and loose bubbles for the head, but not much of it. The bubbles only cover about half the pint, with the rest a light coffee shimmer.

Nose: Roasted nuts.  Roasted nuts. Lactose, yet matched by solid bitter coffee that is the mainstay of the aroma.  Slight cream cheese and chives under that.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Very smooth texture. Very bitter. Burnt toast. Still a cloying cream element. Light coffee influence.

Finish: Really bitter chocolate into dry milky coffee. Very heavily roasted coffee beans. Walnuts.

Conclusion: A lot of bitter stouts these days come with a heavy hop character that can really get sticky. The thickness of stouts can make the hops grip far past their welcome.  This bad boy is a bitter stout, but brings it in with what feels a much more natural yet heavy bitterness.

Seriously, the main body of this takes the chocolate and coffee elements and ratchets up their bitter side.  Its like how when you first have unsweetened chocolate. That kind of jolt of pleasurepain as you acclimatise.  Yeah, that kinda thing was the beers first kick.

Add to that a cloying cream cheese and chive element that is laced throughout and a roasted character and you get a solid sturdy no nonsense imperial stout. There’s no real surprises. Ok, ok barring cream cheese and sodding chive which I will admit was unexpected. There are no other real surprises but the texture balances a smoothness of style with a grip to let the flavour get hold with consummate ease.  Then the beer just doubles down on its bitter elements as a matter of course.

On a technical level it is extremely well made, on a personal level it is a tad more bitter than I usual go with for with stouts. It’s a beer that I would enjoy very much to have a half of on tap. Considering the abv and strong flavours that would seem to be the perfect measure for it.  On Imperial Stout Vs Imperial Stout I probably prefers BBFs more Belgium style “Ultimate Stout”, as it has a bit of a smoother character and complexity from the Belgium take. This is more of a solid force forwards.

So, a well made beer, how much you like it will be determined by how much it’s straight up style and bitterness appeals to you.  Me, I’m not complaining, but will probably return to its Ultimate brother.

Background: One of the twelve stouts of Christmas.  BBF already had an imperials stout in their range – Ultimate Stout, but that was based on Belgium yeast while this is in the more traditional Russian Imperial Stout mould. BBF are always good with stouts so the journey through the twelve stouts of Christmas is a treat.