Swan Lake Imperial Stout

Swan Lake: Imperial Stout (Japan: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black, brown shimmers around the edge.

Nose: Toffee, feels thick and viscious on the aroma oddly enough. Bourbon. Charring. Roasted barley and a gin air. Bitter chocolate. Fresh brown bread.

Body: Milky chocolate. Roasted nuts. Frothy texture. Chocolate fondue. Barley. Lots of roasted character.

Finish: Roasted popping nuts. Bitter Belgium chocolate. Fudge. Oatmeal biscuits.

Conclusion: It could just be the abv, or the extra large serving I got (See background), but this is a beer that grew on me as I drank it. There was an impressive aroma from the start, but the main body felt slightly thin early on. That soon changed.

Fondue chocolate flavour and a frothy texture make for an impressive mix, especially with roasted barley and nuts mixing to create a bitter but grounded Imperial Stout that has a good range. It feels its weight, not hiding the abv, but it isn’t spirity for the most part, there is just a natural heft to the beer to warm you of its strength.

Despite the roasted character the texture is very frothy and smooth. Since the Imperial Stout range is so packed with quality beers, a quick comparison to give an idea of where it stands. This is probably competing in a similar style and ballpark to Bristol Beer Factory’s Ultimate Stout. It has a similar quality, below the top range of insanely good imperial stouts, but distinctly competent and not exactly far off the top set.

A lovely call to old style roasted stouts but without eschewing the lovely smoothness that has become a trademark of the new wave of imperial stouts. It shows its weight but never to the degree that you regret it showing its weight. The minor flaw is that it seems slightly thin of flavour in the first few sips, and in such a packed competition that keeps it from the top, but in any more reasonable assessment it is a very good beer.

Background: I had a bit more for this than I planned. Drunk at the popeye bar, I was half way through my first glass when one of the staff dropped a glass in front of me that shattered. Despite none getting in my glass they quickly scooted the beer away from me and replaced it with anew full glass. Very nice, but a tad dangerous at the abv. I do like Japan. Picked as it was listed as one of the top 50 beers in Japan. I was slightly tired from jet lag at the time of enjoying this.

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