Bristol Beer Factory: Imperial Stout: Laphroaig Cask Aged (England: Imperial Stout: 9.5%ABV)

Visual: Black with a dusting and rim of beige suds but no real head. Viscous main body that leaves a beige trail where it passes.

Nose: Smoke. Rocks. Salt and peat. Iodine. Cherries. Roasted barley. Bitter chocolate.

Body: Milk chocolate. Medicinal. Salt. Coffee. Rock. Charring. Custard sweetness. Throat tingling. Toffee. Cloyed cream underneath. Frothy texture in the mouth if rolled around.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Medicinal again. Black coffee. Salt and wet rocks. Cloyed cream.

Conclusion: This is a beer that knows what it is.  Laphroaig is stamped straight through it. That medicinal, rocky, salty beast just floats above the body that once sipped is chocolate smooth and sweet. Unlike “Bitch Please” where the underlying beer was almost subsumed by the whisky, the beer and the whisky here complement each other greatly.

The whisky influence keeps your mouth clinical fresh between sips so it never builds up too heavy despite the force of the flavour. Here the solid nature of BBF’s Imperial Stout really pays off. The rough edges allow it to hold its own and even gives it room to push forwards the sweet chocolate and toffee flavour that makes a great counterpoint. This feels like the expression that the base beer was designed for.

So with that praise out of the way, does it have any problems? Well it is a harsh base beer and a harsh whisky put together in one glass. If you are not one for the rough edges then this beer is going to be too much of one style for your tastes. Similarly the combined tingle from the alcohol and medicinal style can be overwhelming if you are not used to it.

On the other hand. Sod it. I love that style and so this beer is right up my alley. The lovely sweetness and harshness mix perfectly in a rounded warming beer.  A great way to end the twelve stouts of Christmas.

Background: The last of the twelve stouts of Christmas, and I saved my most anticipated for last.  I’m a big fan of Bristol Beer Factory, especially their stouts and similarly I love Laphroaig whisky for its sheer booming nature.  It’s odd that more beers don’t use Laphroaig casks for ageing, unless people fear it will overwhelm the beers main character.