Black Iris: I Push My Fingers Into My Pies (England: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thick brown dash of a head.

Nose: Apple strudel. Caramel. Marzipan. Toffee apples. Cherry bakewells. Liquorice touch. Strawberry yogurt.

Body: Thick. Slight bitter chocolate. Liquorice touch. Cherry bakewells. Golden syrup, Apple pies. Vanilla toffee. Toffee apple. Slight milk. Black cherry.

Finish: Sour dough. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Apples. Icing sugar. Strawberry cream. Bitter cocoa. Slightly bitter. Brown bread. Bitter coffee. Almond slices.

Conclusion: This is odd, in so many ways. Which, looking at the ingredient list, you may be thinking that this should not surprise me. However, even knowing what went into this it manages to express itself in unusual and unexpected ways over and over again.

The base stout is stodgy, with a kind of bitter cocoa but in a muted way. It is slightly bready in heaviness, slightly milky in the creaminess of the texture, so with these combined it is definitely a thick, chewy stout. Which makes it even odder that the elements of the base stout are so oddly muted. It is definitely present, definitely weighty but in a fairly bready nondescript way with bitter chocolate and coffee there but slightly lost.

So, with all that in mind, back to the oddness of this beer. I feel like the base described above is muted in a deliberate move to make room for the unusual ingredients and give those flavours room to roam. The thing is that while this has cherry and strawberry (and vanilla and almonds) in it, those are not the most evident flavours. So what does stand out? What is the first super evident note? Apple strudel. Yeah I didn’t see that one coming either. There is a super sticky apple filling style, sticky toffee, and every combination in-between. Nice, but deeply unexpected.

Now, I will admit, nestled away in the midst of this muted imperial stout of toffee apple strudel is , in fact, a 100% recognisable cherry bakewell set of notes. It is like there is a calm at the eye of the stout tornado and there the bakewell nestles. It is still slightly muted, not super sweet, but absolutely there are recognisable as the dessert they were going for.

So, I would say it is not great because of feeling slightly muted in a lot of elements, but it is far from bad. It is a lot, and I mean a LOT, a lot of often clashing elements but it is fair fascinating if not best set up. The base feels like it is muted, but the strudel and everything with it feels sickly. I’d say don’t grab if your main interest is the bakewell gimmick, as that is but a small part of this.

To be a really good beer it probably would either need a bigger use of the base Imperial Stout flavours, or more dedication to the bakewell gimmick – right now if feels just slightly underwhelming if interesting. So, not really one I would recommend but it is an enjoyable mess.

Background: I grabbed this one for a few reasons, but the main one being that it is a cherry bakewell imperial stout and the contrast between an imperial stout and a bakewell being combined in one thing intrigued me. To try and achieve this goal they used cherry and strawberry puree, vanilla pods, lactose and almonds. Another reason was the artwork which has a nicely spooky look in striking black and white. That cool design led to me picking some heavier music for drinking – Noctule’s Wretched Abyss – some Skyrim inspired black metal which went along perfectly. This is another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Advertisement