Romanov Stout

Brodies: Romanov Empress Stout (Laphroaig Barrel Aged)

Visual: Dark black. Thin millimetres of a coffee froth hued set of bubbles.

Nose: Honeycomb. Caramel. Milky coffee. Bourbon. Fudge. Slight gin. Wet rocks. Condensed cream. Very sweet.

Body: Slick and very smooth. Salt and wet rocks. Medicinal character. Toffee and smooth bitter coffee.

Finish: Salty air and light charring. Dry gin. Gooseberry fresh touch. Bitter coffee and chocolate. Fudge. Very dying and light oak.

Conclusion: The long raved about Romanov Stout. So how does it hold up?  Well at first I was worried that this thing wasn’t going to show any of its Islay ageing influence.  The aroma is just a barrage of sweet and honeyed aromas, with but the barest hint of island rocks giving a call to the whisky barrels.  So, I thought the body would follow the same path. More fool me.

The body is slight textured but the initial flavour is nigh overpowered by the medicinal and salt Laphroaig character. There is none of the meatiness you get with the base whisky, and initially little of the sweetness either.  The medicinal character is very clean and clear cut. This then led me to think I would be disappointed by the beer in the opposite fashion, that the base imperial stout would be lost to the ageing.

Again fool me, though this time less so.

The Islay character never fully parts to let the stout below express itself but as you drink on the bitter chocolate and coffee and the fudges sweetness manage to fight out from underneath the barrel ageing.

For a beer of such strong elements it unusually seems to favour smoothness of character heavily. Despite a slight but noticeable alcohol influence it keeps everything very restrained. Thus early on the flavours don’t show themselves to their best, instead letting them build to a crescendo over time. It does get up to speed pretty quickly though. Even on just having a third the flavours became a permanent fixture in my mouth by half way through.

When it develops it’s a mix of big flavours which seep into all aspects from first sip to finish.  It is rough in flavour with heavy dependence on Islay character, but very smooth of texture to drink.  Very nice, it possibly needs just a bit more of the base Imperial Stout pushing through for it to become exceptional, but it is still a well done beer for whisky fans.  A challenging and rewarding Imperial Stout.

Background: My friends have been raving about Romanov Empress Stout for while now. Since they are London based they can get it quiet easily.   When I heard that Brewdog Bristol had a keg of it hidden in the cellar  I was excited, but had a horrid feeling it would end up on while I was away up north.  Thankfully I returned to Bristol for New Years to find this just on.  So I drank it.  Thanks to Jonny and everyone at Brewdog Bristol for both getting this in and for a great New Year drinking session.