Tag Archive: 8-10% ABV


Northern Monk: Double Heathen (England: IIPA: 10% ABV)

Visual: Very hazy to cloudy apricot. Moderate off white head.

Nose: Pine needles. Resinous hops. Passion fruit and dried mango. Banana. Moderate bitterness. Thick.

Body: Thick fruit juice texture. Guava. Banana. Creamy bitterness. Moderate hop character. Dried mango. Custard. Pineapple. Dried apricot.

Finish: Solid bitterness. Lightly creamy and light custard notes. Mango juice.

Conclusion: Ok, this doesn’t sit neatly at either of the usual ends of the DIPA spectrum. The base isn’t a super dry, out of the way, leave everything to the hops style DIPA – but neither is it a super sweet, making heavy with the malt to contrast the hops style beer either. OK, there is a lot more range to DIPAs to that, but they tend to cluster somewhere around those two extremes in my experience.

So we have something in-between – the base feels fairly dry, especially on the way out, but you can still really taste and feel the base with custard like sweet notes. It straddles the DIPA line.

Similarly it straddles the hop line. Nor a beer of unrelenting bitterness, not one of super fresh fruit. It is fruity, don’t get me wrong, but in a dried fruity, musty thick kind of way – lots of thick flavour – with enough sweetness to deliver what would otherwise be quite the drying flavour profile and backed by juice guava notes. Never one thing or another, never leaning too far in any direction, it trades everything off to create a big and satisfying IIPA.

It really does work. While its style straddling method means that it never hits the pure high notes that you can get by going all in with one interpretation, it also means that it doesn’t tie itself to the flaws of any one take either. It feels like, as long as you like a bitter beer, and can deal with big abv – and let’s face it, what IPA fan does not? Then you can just dive into this and enjoy it. Very good, and it is not afraid to show some musty, slightly rough edges – it doesn’t polish off the edges that makes a beer charming. This brings together so many good IPA element that I can unashamedly recommend it as a proper job done good. A fine IIPA.

Background: I’ve been trying a few new breweries recently – I’ve tried going for more standard, less experimental beers so to get an idea of what their main beer’s quality are like. After a few meh beers, I’ve decided to revise this policy – so I grabbed this big DIPA from Independent Spirit– not a standard beer, but none of those weird extra ingredients – should make a nice balance of showing brew techniques while still allowing me to enjoy some bigger beers. Hopefully. After going old school with Prodigy for music before, going even older school for this one with some Madness. Probably one of the first bands I ever really got into. Good times. The can lists this as a nice 70IBU. Should be bitter enough for my tastes.

vliegende-paard-prearis-quadrupel
Vliegende Paard: Prearis: Quadrupel (Belgium: Quadrupel: 10% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown, with overripe banana colour at the edges. Thin grey to brown dash of a head that leaves sud rims.

Nose: Dried sultanas and liquorice. Coffee beans. Malt chocolate. Crushed Blackpool rock. Dry roasted peanuts. Banana.

Body: Candy floss. Banana syrup. Frothy mouthfeel. Lemon sherbet. Treacle. Light chalk. Apples sweets. Caramel. Very milky coffee. Raisins. Cloves. Carrot.

Finish: Caramelised brown sugar. Dried banana and toffee syrup. Malt drinks. Bitter nuttiness. Mild apple sours. Coffee and caramel. Bitter cocoa. Carrot.

Conclusion: It is heavy duty Quadrupel time again, and damn today we have a doozie. Been over a year since I last broke open a Quad so I was looking forwards to this. The thing I love about Quads is that, due to the high strength, they have plenty of time to develop strong, often radically different, flavours in one beer.

Take this for example – candyfloss sweetness and banana mix – that could be one beer. Toffee and caramel with bitter cocoa and milky coffee- that could be another beer. Cloves spice, carrot savoury and lightly chalky over dark fruit – that could be yet another beer. Yet here they all act together in one big, balanced entity.

So, what is dominant, and does it work? Well the caramel and the very syrup styled banana are the most evident up front. Yet this mix of sweet flavours is smoothly delivered to not be sickly, and then the spice and grounding note slowly rise to restrain and then expand upon it. You get a big instant pleasure hit dancing on your taste-buds up front, and then it slowly lets the complexity come out, and makes sure that the original big wow doesn’t wear out its welcome. Very nicely done.

So, in case you haven’t guessed, to answer the second questions. Yes it does work. It seems unlike a lot of Quads that I’ve enjoyed in that it doesn’t follow the Trappist Quad examples very closely. It is smoother, sweet caramel style, but without losing those awesome Belgian rough edges. For flaws? Well it is very sweetness dominated, despite having a lot more to it than that. Not a problem for me, but if you don’t have sweet tooth then your probably want to look at some of the less overly sweet Quads. That aside, damn there is a lot in this beer – It is like A Belgian rough edged take on a USA smooth take on a Belgian Quad. That may have made no sense whatever. Any which way, I highly recommend this.

Background: Ok, I had to look up the brewers name just to check – I thought it was Prearis until I read the bottle carefully then did some googling to confirm. Any which way, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit – new Belgian brewery turning out a Quad, how could I resist? Not much else to add to that, was going in fairly blind on this one – put some Shadow’s Fall on for listening to while I drank.


Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Deimos (England: Weizenbock: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Large brown loose bubbled froth for a head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Potpourri and dry spices. Chilli seeds. Chocolate malt drinks. Slight smoke. Cashew nuts.

Body: Tobacco. Spicy. Sweet cherries. Smoked meat. Slight charred oak. Spiced rum. Sour red wine. Frothy feels. Walnuts.

Finish: Smoked meat. Dried banana and pecan pie. Slight cloves. Gingerbread. Light charring. Lightly dusty. Dry spice. Sour red wine. Mild bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Well, this is more immediately interesting that its Madeira aged cousin. Though it anything it feels even less like the common expectation of a weizenbock. That said, they both share the same flaw of a a fairly weak aroma – This time slightly simple in a dry and spicy fashion.

What grabs as soon as you reach the body is a mix of spice, tobacco and spiced rum. Very big up front notes from first sip, behind that however it is just as mixed up as Phobos, but in a very different way. While that beer felt like Bristol beer Factory’s Vintage ale, this actually feels like a weizen heir to an unaged Hair Of The Dog Adams in the mix of smoke and complexity. That said, this had nowhere near the smoothness or richness of Adams – instead being cursed with clashing complexity.

However, it is slightly more balanced complexity than its cousin. The smoke and vinous notes give a more weighty beer which means the nuttiness and spice have a much more solid base to work from. That weighty base is also what seems to overpower a lot of the weizen character I think – so mixed blessing, but still a blessing. I’d therefore say of the two barrel aged Tempus project beers I prefer this one – it manages to get a coherent image out more up front and immediately, just throwing flavour after flavour and seeing what sticks. It still has some confusion, but powers through it to a degree.

Stuffy and smoked, with smoked meat and charring – yet vinous, malty, and even fruity in a way, but dominated by dark notes. Probably still not one for drinking now – again I feel age may do this good, the question (answered a few days later and added to the background) is which of the two should I grab to age?

Background: Second of the Tempus project beers I have tried. The first being Phobos, which I found mixed up but generally pleasant. Like that this was bought from Independent Spirit. This is a *deep breath* Smoked banana, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs infused beer aged in Sherry Barrels. So, a normal beer ya know. After doing these notes I decided to grab a bottle of this one to age and see what happens. This had a fair mix of tunes while listening – mixed up tunes for a mixed up beer. We are Sex Bob-omb and Ill Manors were only two of the tunes to give an idea.

Siren: Garage Project: Blacklight Banana (England: Imperial Stout: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of yellow brown head.

Nose: Dried banana. Smoke. Pencil shavings. Quite closed. Fudge. Stewed banana as it warms. Light chocolate dusting.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Very ripe to stewed banana. Palma violets. Smooth and creamy. Praline. Cinnamon. Some blended whisky notes.

Finish: Banana Sunday. Toffee sauce. Mild chocolate. Smooth sheen on tongue. Praline. Bitter cocoa. Cinnamon. Subtle milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, sometimes the very smooth, slightly light, Imperial Stout style can work. Ok, who would have thought that? Normally I find that level of light character in a stout a flaw, but here it just successfully makes room fro those mashed and stewed banana flavours to slot right in.

In fact, with the smoothness, and later on with the whisky notes I wondered if this had been barrel aged. Looking at the bottle I am still not sure – they refer to bourbon barrel aged coffee beans. Lacking a comma that seems to say that just the coffee beans had been barrel aged. So that shouldn’t have made the beer smoother. I guess. Bit of an odd twist. I have no idea. Any which way, the beer tastes barrel aged and that is the important bit.

Actually no, scratch that, the important thing is that this tastes like a Banana Sunday that someone dropped way too much chocolate sauce on. I don’t mean “way too much” in bad way – I just mean that the chocolate would be too dominant if it was a Banana Sunday. It has a very dessert feel, albeit that someone felt a need to drop a shot of Irish whiskey into the mix as well.

Considering the number of elements in it, it plays a fairly small set of notes. That is pretty much the only drawback I have with this beer. It does the dessert, liqueur and chocolate thing very well, but there is no real progression from there. The coffee beans especially seem to have very little input.

Still, works the smooth character well, plays as a dessert beer well – if you want more banana in your life and in your stout then rock on! This does the job.

Background: Another one from the rainbow project – collaborationist between UK and (in this case) NZ breweries, based on a colour set to them. This is the indigo inspired beer, and they went with the idea that under a blacklight bananas look indigo. A nice bit of rules-lawyering of which I approve. It was made with blowtorched bananas, molasses, banana purée and coffee beans that had been aged in bourbon barrels (No I have no idea how that works). Grabbed from Independent Spirit this was drunk while listening to a mix of metal covers of pop songs. I am sucker for such things for some reason.

Beavertown: Oskar Blues: Tempus Project: Phobos (England: Weizenbock: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown and mostly opaque. A couple of inches of brown bubbled froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Nutty and malt chocolate. Cashew nuts. Light menthol and mint leaves. Cinnamon. Lightly vinous.

Body: Malt drinks. Nutty. Vinous. Subtle port notes. Orange zest. Coriander. Stewed banana. Bready. Light to moderate bitterness. Light cloves.

Finish: Slight sour grapes. Malt chocolate drink. Madeira cake. Chocolate shavings. Bitty orange juice. Nutty. Smoke. Walnuts.

Conclusion: Oddly this reminds me of Bristol Beer Factory’s Vintage Ale – both are malt led, chocolaty, drinks with a hell of a lot going on. So much so in fact that it doesn’t quite mesh. So, that is your short overview of what is going to be the general theme of these notes.

With that said, it is strange that initially the nose is fairly simple – nutty and malt drinks. I was actually worried this was going to be a too simple beer. How silly of me!

The first thing that starts coming out to break up that image is the vinous notes – from sour grapes, sweet Madeira cake to slight port. Not dominating but definitely rounding notes. Good use of barrel ageing that still lets the base beer breath. I approve! Now the base is not the most complex thing, bitter chocolate over nutty notes – but it is definitely solid enough to set up for what is a mass of infusions and ageing influence.

Another similarity to the BBF Vintage is in the fruitiness throughout – still quite malty, like malt choc orange through to a fresher orange juice style. It is a good element, but it is the element that most shows the integration of flavour issues thee beer has – it doesn’t quite line up with the others, instead seeming to float around aside from the rest.

Now despite that the beer is not bad – in fact I am tempted to grab one to age, like I did with vintage, see if it mellows out and matches up a bit better. It is just with the fruit, vinous, nutty, malt led and spice touched beer there is so much going on that it feels unfocused. So, not clearly defined, but surprisingly easy to drink, especially for 9% and up. The solid bitter chocolate to malt drinks base is charming as is, but is they smoothed it out and got everything in a line it would be amazing.

So, pretty much like BBF Vintage before it a mixed up beer, but with a lot of charm. If I grab one to age I will you now how that goes.

Background: OK, lot to describe in this beer. It is a weizendopplebock aged for 8 months in Madeira barrel – infused with smoked bananas, walnuts, pecans, dates and figs. Oh, and oats as well as the expected wheat. So, yeah that interested me – especially with both Oscar Blues and Beavertown at the helm. That sounded like a match made in heaven. This was drunk after a session playing the new Doom and having my first encounter with the Cyberdemon and stomping its dick into the dirt. Having a beer called Phobos after playing Doom is very appropriate as any fan will tell you. To keep the feel going was listening to Carcass: Surgical Steel, for that real visceral metal feel. Decided against the Aventinus glass for this one – at 330ml it would probably get lost in the big weizenbock glass. Instead went for the Teku glass – always a good one for mall bottles and big flavours. As you may have guessed, this is another one bought from Independent Spirit of Bath.

Law Man: Obsidian: Barrel Aged Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head despite a vigorous pour.

Nose: Smokey coffee. Raw coffee beans. Vanilla toffee. Bitter cocoa dust. Light moss. Bready. Slight sour cream notes.

Body: Smooth. Treacle. Smoke. Moss. Milky chocolate. Sour cream. Bitter cocoa. Bourbon.

Finish: Charred oak. Cocoa pops and milky chocolate. Grassy. Bitter. Sour cream. Alcohol air. Rye. Bourbon

Conclusion: This feels paradoxically light and yet overly harsh beer. Odd. It has very smooth mouthfeel – in fact the front feels like it lacks grip resulting in the chocolate notes coming in kind of floaty and lacking weight. Then as you are digging into that to try and investigate suddenly charred oak and harsh bitterness seems to set up shop on your tongue, just coming out of nowhere.

It is an odd, not entirely pleasant, experience. Doubly odd as the aroma is excellent – absolutely booming with tons of coffee and tiny hints of treacle amongst cocoa dust. You get full on roasted bean character just floating out of the glass.

By contrast the body, well it still has that treacle character, but now in a slightly artificial way. It is kind of similar to what a bunch of low abv dark beers use to build up the body to compensate for the lack of malt, but this is far from low abv. it is a gosh darn imperial stout and shouldn’t need to use such tricks. While they use whisky barrels for the ageing, the general feel of this is more towards the rougher edge of bourbon. That is not a slight on bourbon – there is plenty of good stuff out there – but this isn’t it. The influence seems the more simple rye crackers and alcohol air rather than the sweet subtleties that a good barrel can bring.

It is a pity, as there is something unusual and kind of worthy in there. There is this slightly savoury, mossy character mid body, and a grassy finish that hints at a more grounded beer, one with more weight and an almost Springbank influenced character. Something decent. Something with more weight to it. As is the beer doesn’t have enough weight to manage the barrel ageing, it loses the heavy stout middle, becoming overly smooth, and those empty moments get filled with the rougher spirit notes. Like this, the grassy notes, instead of being a pleasant backing, instead match with the charred character for a rough finish.

There is a good beer in there somewhere – some chocolate, some coffee, but overall it doesn’t really mesh. A rare case where barrel ageing seems to have actually hurt a stout.

Background: Saw this at Independent Spirit, a whisky barrel aged version of their base Obsidian stout. It had good buzz about it so I grabbed a bottle despite not having tried anything from law Man before. Drunk while listening to Bowie: Black Star. Heavy haunting music for heavy beer. Not much else to say, I’ve really been spoiled by great barrel aged Imperial Stouts over the years so any new one has a lot to live up to.

Hoppin’ Frog: Karminator (USA: Doppelbock: 9.3% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy dark caramel to reddish brown. Moderate browned head. Some evident carbonation, but less than expected.

Nose: Massive port, raisins and fruitcake. Glacier cherries. Chocolate liqueur undertone. Malty. Toffee.

Body: Thick. Fruitcake. Marzipan. Sultanas and glacier cherries. Brandy cream. Toffee pavlova. Salted caramel. Light cloves.

Finish: Glacier cherries. Dried banana. Fruitcake. Raisins. Madeira. Brandy cream. Fudge. Salted caramel. Cloves. Honey. Brown sugar. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: Well, this is a big one – in bottle size, abv and flavour. Very thick body – so much so that I would not have guessed it as a lager styled beer if I had not known. Mouthfeel wise it feels similar to the super smooth American take on the Belgian ale. Flavour wise it is half way between the dopplebock it is and a strong ale take on an ESB. It is huge.

The smoothness, the malt character and the subtle banana and cloves all shout top quality dopplebock. The fruitcake and port can be dopplebock notes, but the intensity of them is very ESB like. This isn’t a barrel aged beer, but with the Madeira and port notes coming out you could have fooled me. In fact the smoothness says barrel ageing as well – but no, this is all just from the craft of the brewers. Impressive.

As an experience this is booming, silky and fruity. It slips down easily but the varied vinous aroma and notes happily declares its abv strength where the alcohol feel does not. This isn’t a beer that replaces my beloved weizendopplebock Aventinus, but it feels like a not Weizen take on the same concept – and that makes it very appealing to me. it runs a similar set of notes, delivered differently and in a smooth American manner. It is a dangerous beer. Complex enough to drag you in, and the lager style makes it far too easy to drink. While it is booming there are subtle spice notes at the edges – and the yeast, though mainly clean, does add a few funky edges it seems.

A beer of weight and gravitas. Have it on its own, not as part of a session, take your time and appreciate it. Do so and you will be rewarded with an excellent beer. Definitely not a session beer in any sense, trust me on that. Treat this as you would a strong Trappist ale and it will reward you similarly.

Background: Haven’t had a dopplebock for a while by my memory. Which is admittedly poor due to drinking. So, this gave me a chance to break out the Aventinus glass again. Anyway, grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer shop, this is from the Hoppin’ Frog brewery – I’ve seen their large bottles pop up around a bit, but never got around to doing notes for one of them. So here goes a chance to change that. Drunk while listening to some Bratmobile and Heavens To Betsy – a bit of riotgrrrl punk fun. For some reason I near always listen to these two artists back to back. I blame “Gone Home”

Kees: Barrel Project #05/2016 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. White swirl and loose bubbles over it but no real head.

Nose: Caramel. Thick. Molasses. Treacle toffee and chocolate toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Alpen. Rye bourbon. Shreddies and fresh white toast.

Body: Belgian chocolate. Bitter cocoa. Thick vanilla fudge. Orange liqueur. Nutty. Rye bourbon. Bready base. Light earthy notes. Figs. Cream. White sugar. Very smooth.

Finish: Wholemeal bread. Rye bourbon. Chocolate biscuits. Earthy notes. Bitter cocoa. Lemongrass. White sugar and white chocolate. Raisins. Bitter coffee cake. Nutty and praline.

Conclusion: Big, yet restrained. Bourbon backed, yet earthy. Thick, yet smooth and somewhat light at times. Ok, you have my attention beer, are you going to earn it?

The base, while you can feel the oatmeal stout thickness, slips down very easily – it is smoothed, I presume, by its time in the oak. A lot of the notes in there are the expected ones – bitter cocoa, chocolate – albeit in a very high quality Belgian style, fudge. Everything very well done. There is however an unusual, restrained rustic earthy set of notes – common in standard stouts, but something that big booming imperial stouts often neglect. It is unusual to find the more savoury notes working against the sweetness.

It is a good look, especially against the bourbon ageing. The more rustic side of the bourbon character seems to match the earthy notes well giving shreddies and rye style characteristics which ground a heavy flavoured beer. Thankfully neither side dominates, the beer or the bourbon – there are orange sweet notes from the bourbon boom, and distinct spirit characteristics, but the beer is big enough to take it and layer the bitter chocolate flavours over the top without losing either.

Initially, when chilled, it was a tad too light but heat brings it out into excellent balance. It is still smooth, but with a bit more grip to let it really shine. It can still have thin moments, but generally the oatmeal stout character pulls it through. Warmth also brings a bit of dark fruit play, which is nigh always a good choice.

So, generally good? Aye, very much so. Downsides? Well the cocoa notes can stick to the tongue, as if you have been licking the cocoa itself. Occasional thin notes as well, but not really much on the downsides.

As I always say, the Imperial Stout category is a packed one, and this doesn’t shift out the top few. However this is more savoury and grounded than most, while still letting the flavours boom. Well done and less over the top than many in the category which is worthy of respect.

Background: An Oatmeal Stout Aged on Heaven Hill barrels, as you can probably read on the bottle. There was a whole bunch of the Barrel Project beers at Independent Spirit and since I have been hearing good things about Kees I decided to grab one of them. I went for this one as 1) I love oatmeal stouts and 2) In My experience Heaven Hills’ barrels do lovely work for barrel ageing a stout. Anyway not much else to say – this was a big beer so broke out some big music. Iron Maiden: A Matter Of Life And Death. Seriously love that album, barely a bad track on it.

Bosteels: Kwak (Belgium: Belgian Strong Ale: 8.4% ABV)

Visual: Caramel brown. Large browned froth for a head.

Nose: Brown sugar in a carmalised and crème brulee fashion. Aniseed. Crushed palma violets. Toffee. Perfume. Blackpool rock. Sugared orange sweets.

Body: Brown sugar and crème brulee. Cane sugar. Sugared orange sweets. Golden syrup cake. Reasonably light mouthfeel. Sweet lime syrup. Slight cloying, sour, doughy touch at the very middle.

Finish: Candyfloss. Brown sugar. Orange sugars. Lemon sherbet. Very light earthy note. Slight liquorice. Slight woody. Light sour undertone as it warms.

Conclusion: You know what? This has no right being a decent beer. Very sweet with lots of residual sugar evident, kind of perfumed aroma. Very silly, impractical gimmick glass. Should be ballacks right? The simple, lowest dominator Belgian sweet thing?

Yet it isn’t. Very malt led, quite clean and slightly light textured body. It has a lot of raw brown sugar, Blackpool rock and other sweet flavours, but the lighter texture keeps it from becoming sickly sweet. It is one of the few dark, high abv beers that I find the lighter texture actually helps rather than hinders it. That is the thing that keeps it from ending up as just a cheap, sweet beer… well one of the things. The other is the wonderful interaction with the Belgian yeast. You get lots of fruity esters coming out, binding with the sweetness to give the impression of lots of candied fruit blended into the mix.

In fact there is another point that works for it, and that is the subtle grounding notes not found in the simpler sweet beers. There is a slight doughy, cloying touch, just at the middle, a grip in amongst the lighter texture. There is also a light wood and earthy note in the finish, brought in with a very, very slightly sour touch as it warms – at a point when otherwise the sweetness would be rising too much.

It is the beer that should have been the epitome of a sweet, simple, disposable beer – yet it is so much more than that. It takes careful work to make such a seemingly sugar dominated beer work this well. AB INBev, it is in your hands now. Don’t fuck it up.

Background: A bottle from before the AB INBev takeover. Grabbed from Independent Spirit on the day I head about the deal. I have been a big fan of this for a while but never got around to doing notes on it despite having had it reasonably often. Often beers go downhill after being bought up so I thought I would so some notes now so I can compare to them in years to come. According to the bottle Bosteels have been independent since 1791, and I guess not independent since 2016 now. I broke out the absurd Kwak glass for this one, wooden handle that lets the glass shuffle around in it. Silly bulge at the end that causes the beer to glug out suddenly if you are not careful. Technically it is a terrible glass but I love it, wooden handle and all. Drunk while listening to a random mix of erock metal tunes.

Närke: Kaggen Stormaktsporter Börb’nåhallon (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim of a head around the glass.

Nose: Bourbon. Vanilla. Spicy rum. Toasted teacakes. Buttery popcorn. Cinnamon. Treacle. Chocolate liqueur. Smoke. Fudge.

Body: Treacle. Molasses. Toasted teacake. Bitter chocolate. Cherries. Chewy. Black cherry. Heavy. Chocolate liqueur. Spicy rum. Bourbon. Honey. Vanilla toffee. Alcohol edge. Marshmallows.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Fudge. Toasted teacakes. Cherries. Butter. Spicy rum. Long lasting spice – jar of seven spice. Rye bourbon air. Bitter cocoa air. Red wine. Charring. Smoke.

Conclusion: There are times in a beer reviewers life that you wonder, am I just looking for flaws to be controversial? This beer has a huge rep, am I just being contrary? So, I have indicated I think this beer has a flaw, what is it? Kind of two fold. One, it is so packed that it can get crowded. Two, that it does show its alcohol. Yep, that’s it. Not much really.

Thing is, imperial stout is packed field of awesome beers. Is that enough though to disqualify it from being the best of the best? Good question, but we are getting ahead of ourselves, lets talk about the beer first and come back to that.

This is thick, spicy and chocolate liqueur loaded, all layered over a real wonderful toasted teacake base. Very good start. The spicy character reminded me of the excellent De Molen 666, but the rest of the beer means it is grounded completely differently. It is utterly intense, delivering cherries, cinnamon, chocolate, bourbon and smoke. Definitely spirity, but despite the alcohol very much showing through it is not harsh. It really lays that spice character on heavy, but thankfully the rest of the beer is big enough to cope with it. Similarly it lays down massive sweet honey, again relying on the weight of all the other elements so it is not sickly.

It is a mix of so much, creamy with fudge notes like the sweeter end of the Imperial Stout scale – Spicy like a rum aged IS, Vanilla and rye bourbon like ageing notes like a, well, bourbon aged IS, Even smoke like an Islay aged IS. It has so much depth, and frankly I’m guessing a few more years ageing would sooth that extra alcohol that is the problem.

As it is, rather than as an imagined aged version? Erm. Well, it is basically insane complexity vs that alcohol edge. Well, I am a fan of rough edged gem beers, but for smoothness the aforementioned 666 is better, for complexity this wins. I think it comes down to the fact that this doesn’t quite come to a coherent whole with all its elements, but each individual element is excellent. So, not quite a personal favourite, but bloody good, and I’m sure that it will be many of yours, it is on that knife edge.

The everything and a kitchen sink of the Imperial Stout range and impressive as fuck.

Background: WE GOT ONE! After finding this but not being able to buy it on the first day in Gothenburg, I was put in a dilemma on finding it on the last day in Akkurat, Sweden. I had already done two sets of notes. I tend to limit myself to that as afterwards I find alcohol and conflicting tastes make the notes less reliable. Then again, I had been taking my time, drinking water between beers, having lots of conversations and enjoying the awesome band that had come on at this point. So, I figured that I could do one more – let’s face it, it is an imperial stout, a big imperial stout, that should kick over anything drunk before it. By this point Akkurat was ram packed, with an awesome live band playing behind us – great atmosphere but because of this light was down, so my photo was not quite as good as it could have been. Apologies. According to a quick bit of google translate, this is the same base beer as the standard Stormaktsporter, which is brewed with honey – this has been flavoured with raspberry and aged for fourteen months, three of which are bourbon, and bottled in 2015. It is currently the highest rated Swedish beer on ratebeer, and one of the world top 50. As I was finishing this a kind Swedish man bought me a pint of Oppigårds El Dorado – a very good show of the hop but damn after everything else drunk I did feel pissed. Many thanks still!

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