Haand: Cervisiam: Frontaal – Death By Disco (Norway: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Lots of small brown sediment bits visible, especially if held to light. Creamy brown head.

Nose: Syrupy, artificial blueberry syrup. Bitter cocoa. Bitter coffee. Blueberry cheesecake. Strawberry jelly (Jello for non UK). Slight smoke. Sour dough. More natural blueberry. Aniseed.

Body: Thick. Alcohol tingle. Blueberry. Raspberry jelly. Caramel ice creamy syrup. Vanilla ice cream. Mild aniseed. Blueberry cheesecake. Honeycomb. Rough bourbon.

Finish: Blueberry. Lactose sheen. Bitter cocoa. Blueberry cheesecake. Slight bitter prickle. Sour dough. Slight smoke. Alcohol notes. Raspberry jelly. Rough bourbon.

Conclusion: What gets me here is how this seems to artificial when the aroma first slips out of the glass, yet very natural in the berry notes as time goes on. The whole beer feels caught in that dichotomy between natural and artificial feeling notes

This is a big beer with weight that brings a very blueberry cheesecake style, smothered in bitter cocoa style from the base stout. So there are definitely worse looks it could go for as the first impressions for the beer. There is a slight smokiness to the beer as well, a wisp that again adds weight.

So pretty good and very far from sickly sweet which was my first worry from the artificial aroma. At times it even feels like it leans a tad too heavily towards the savoury side, with bready notes becoming dominant – but it doesn’t happen often enough to hurt the beer.

What does hurt the beer is a strong alcohol feel that seems to emphasise the more artificial, syrupy blueberry notes and create a raw and artificial sprit character. These come late on an especially out into the finish where they are most evident.

There is a lot of good to this beer, even some good character in the artificial notes – for example the ice cream syrup, jelly and fruit notes are welcome as sweet bursts against the smokey offset. It feels like it is the alcohol, spirity character that really hurts it. It is a rough kind of neutral spirit to cheap bourbon kind of note that doesn’t ruin the beer, but definitely highlights the weaker artificial elements.

A good base beer, but one that needs to a lot of polish for it to pay off its promise. I can’t recommend it as is, but I do hope that they give it some work to make something really good from this.

Background: Yeah I know it calls itself a sweet stout as well as an Imperial Stout – at 10% abv I am happy putting it in the imperial stout side of things for a category. Anyway, mainly grabbed this as I liked the idea of blueberry sweet stout, and Haand have been interesting so far, if not quite having a beer I have tried yet that 100% wowed me. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Had recently grabbed Rise Against – “Appeal To Reason” cheaply so put it on while drinking. Not quite formulated an opinion yet – seems solid so far but not really dug into it yet.

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