Alesmith: Speedway Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black, quite large froth of a coffee brown head. The head doesn’t last long but does leave suds around the glass.

Nose: Firm bitter coffee and roasted nuts, Sour dough.

Body: Roasted nuts. Very slick texture which is full of bitter coffee. Belgium bitter chocolate behind. Slightly milky. Very bitter for the most part. Texture can be made to froth up easily.  When chilled gets sweeter with riesen chocolate chews and toffee mixed with tiny touches of black cherry and orange liquore.

Finish: Dry bitter coffee. Hazelnuts and cashew nuts. Deluxe black chocolate.

Conclusion: I’m in kind of two minds on this. Technically it is very highly proficient. A small range of flavour elements. It has coffee, nuts and chocolate as the dominant components to such an extent that little else gets a look in. However each element is very well defined as to have a range within itself in a similar fashion to beer geek brunch weasel.

The chocolate, though a smaller element, is quality bitter Belgium chocolate in style. The coffee is flavoursome and roasted, and the nuts a mix of cashew and hazelnut in style which has that slight sourness as well.  Each element can be dissected and examined in itself.

Well, that’s the good points, so why am I in two minds. Well, the thing is that despite each element being very well defined they feel like it is lacking in counterpoints to the elements. They all lay on the bitterness and complement each other well in that, but it feels like it needs a bit more going against the grain to bring the flavours into sharper relief.

For fairness sake, it does have the interesting characteristic that the intrinsical bitterness seems linked inversely to the size of the sip taken. Small mouthfuls explode into bitterness, larger gulps froth up into a subtle sweetness that make in dangerously easy to drink.

The other point is the effect that chilling has. Chilled significantly it went down a lot better. Smoother, and it reigned the bitterness back a bit, giving the chocolate more room to flow.  This really is one of the few beers that works better after a full night in the fridge, rather than  shorter session.  It feels more balanced and therefore a better beer with some small sweet sub notes.

Overall a highly competent Imperial Stout, that feels closest in call to Stone Brewing’s Russian Imperial Stout In its bitter nature, but with far more coffee emphasis.  I think it suffers from excessive concentration on the bitter side of the flavours, but that really is personal preference. A very powerful and intense coffee imperial stout with a grace of texture and presence.

Background: listed as one of rate beers top 50 beers, this is a beer with a big rep (After a quick glance I realized I’ve had 20 of their current top 50, not bad). I’d had a bottle of it back at the first Brewdog AGM where it was shared between the three of us.  I was quite drunk then so didn’t review it.  Made with a large amount of Ryan Bros coffee beans, and in a quite hefty 75cl bottle so the beer was shared with a few friends this time as well.