Tag Archive: Emperor


Vault City: Emperor: From A Gaelic Sea Far, Far Away (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head. Opaque main body.

Nose: Caramel. Clean medicinal air. Clotted cream and strawberry jam. Dry peat. Crushed custard cream biscuits. Vanilla custard slices. Touch of tarry nature.

Body: Oily. Sweet. Jam. Chocolate liqueur. Liquorice touch. Honey. Oily peat. Praline. Lightly medicinal. Salt touch. Riesen chocolate chews. Heather.

Finish: Praline. Pecans. Medicinal mixed with vanilla. Custard. Riesen chocolate chews. Smooth, oily medicinal sheen. Vanilla toffee. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: The thing with heather honey, and with Islay barrel ageing for that matter, is that they can easily utterly dominate a beer. I’ve had so many ash tray and iodine beers, or so sickly sweet that they lost that imperial stout that is meant to be the base.

This beer manages to somehow balance those two very strong flavours and a huge base imperial stout and somehow keep it all balanced, and as a result have turned out something very special.

The base stout is chocolate liqueur like and yet on the aroma you could swear there is clotted cream and jam notes floating around in there. From the ingredients I can guess what causes the cream like notes, but I have no idea where the jam comes from.

The honey is sweet but against a more oily character that gives a more savoury touch so it doesn’t get cloying. Similarly the oily character makes the medicinal and peat note much more flavoursome than harsh and so enhances the beer greatly.

It is sweet still, with marshmallow like fluffiness, toffee around the base and praline high notes, but the Islay character of peat smoke and oil, as well as those medicinal notes just ooze throughout it – everything matches the other elements so well.

A masterpiece of an Imperial Stout – sweet, medicinal, big and yet measured in all the right ways.

Lovely.

Background: I’ve mentioned Emperor brewing a few times here, basically a brewer trying to turn out the best Imperial Stouts they can, and have a huuuuuggeee reputation. I don’t think they ever do solo beers, or at least any I have seen, they always seem to be collaborations. Vault City are another big name, better known for doing odd and experimental sour beers, but they turn out the odd big stout as well, of which this is one. It is made with …. **deep breath** Heather honey, vanilla, lactose, oats and wheat and was aged in an Islay whisky cask. Lot of stuff going on there. Grabbed this from Independent Spirit, I went with History Of Guns: Forever Dying In Your Eyes as backing music. First new HoG album for years and years so was happy to slap on in the background.

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Fallen Acorn: Emperor: Brandy BA Simple Tricks and Nonsense (England: Imperial Stout: 15.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Utterly still. No head.

Nose: Brandy soaked sponge. Sherry cream. Sherry soaked raisins. Fig rolls. Caramel and milky chocolate, also biscuity which together gives a Twix Bar image. Mild licorice. Nougat.

Body: Very smooth, into a cake sponge feel. Nougat. Brandy soaked raisins and brandy sponge. Chocolate cake sponge. Chocolate liqueur. Liqueur filled chocolate sweets. Trifle sponge. Chocolate flapjacks. Cognac touch.

Finish: Rum sponge. Chocolate cake sponge. Liqueur filled chocolate sweets. Chocolate flapjacks. Golden syrup touch.

Conclusion: Ohhh, it has been a long time since I have had an imperial stout like this. This is very big, but oh so very smooth. Like, a 15% and up abv beer should not have this smooth a texture. Early on it just slides down your throat. It is not that it is thin, but it is nothing like what you would expect. An utterly still beer on pour and utterly slick on swallow. It does quickly move on from that to a chocolate sponge fluffy feel and flavour, but that fluffy character is still lighter than you would expect from the abv. It feels very influenced by the super smooth take that was common in the USA in roughly the middle 2K era.

I haven’t had the unaged beer, but I’m guessing is was probably pretty smooth and not too carbonated to begin with, but if so, the ageing has really emphasised both point until this feels like a smooth chocolate liqueur, sans some of the alcohol fire. (Again, impressive considering the absurd abv this has).

On top of that this is laden with the barrel aged flavour – not that I would haver recognised the barrel correctly and guessed brandy sight unseen. Yes, this has tons of brandy soaked cake sponge flavours, and a kind of raisins element, but there are so many odd spirit flavours that seem to come out of the beer and barrel interaction that I would have been hard pressed to guess a specific one. It tastes like shoving a mouthful of varied liqueur filled chocolates in your gob at once and washing it down with an imperial stout.

It results in a beer that I respect for brewing quality and enjoy for bursting spirit flavour, it is very good, but I will admit I prefer my imperial stouts a bit more chewy in feel. I mean, this is recognisably strong despite its slickness and smoothness – mainly from those spirity flavours and , while smooth, still a noticeable alcohol character. I still would have preferred a touch bigger thickness in mouthfeel. Oddly this actually ties into the one big flaw of the beer, don’t let it warm to room temperature. Normally I quite like letting my stouts warm, but this becomes very boozy and noticeably alcohol touched when at room temperature. It doesn’t gain the thicker mouthfeel I wanted, just become very more obvious in its alcohol feel which does not benefit the beer. Still, slightly chilled this is lovely.

Still, despite those quibbles, overall this is very well done. It is a huge wave of spirity flavour and very well made base imperial stout. However, at 25 quid odd a pop I have to be critical about it for the little flaws as for that money you should demand excellence. It is very good indeed, but not 25 quid a go good.

Background: Emperor brewing have a massive reputation for making imperial stouts. I have encountered them in on collaboration before and found it pretty darn nice. So, a short while back I was discussing them at a Mill’s beer tasting at indie spirit, and one of the other people there mentioned that Fallen Acorn had done a collaboration with them and, shockingly, was still in stock on their store. You had to buy them in a set of three different barrel ageing, so it was a tad expensive, but I bit the bullet and grabbed them. Many thanks to the guy who mentioned it to me, if you ever read this! Since then looks like they sell them individually now, but ah well, no complaints. This is meant to emulate German chocolate cake in style, and was made with lactose and aged in Brandy barrels. Due to being a large bottle and huuuge abv I saved some of this for another day, stopping up the bottle. I am not as young as I once was. Music wise i went with Bloodywood – Rakshak. Yep they finally have their first album out and it is amazing!

Elusive: Emperor: Imperial Morrisman – Double Chocolate Dry Imperial Stout (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black, still and opaque. Thin brown head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Dry roasted peanuts. Sour cream. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Brown bread.

Body: Smooth. Chocolate cream to chocolate ice cream. Dry roasted peanuts. Light strawberry. Quite thick texture. Light alcohol presence. Choc peanut butter. Sour cream.

Finish: Chocolate ice cream. Dry roasted peanuts. Choc peanut butter. Strawberry crème. Belgian black chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, a few things first – all linked to the abv. For such a high abv this sticks to a surprisingly simple set of notes and flavours. A lot of high abv beers really pile on the layers, showing off what the extra abv can do with complex flavours – which this does not. Similarly, for the abv there is remarkable little boozy presence or alcohol burn. It has a smooth, dry thickness and some subtle alcohol tells in the weight and air, but in general is very good at hiding the abv.

So, with that dryness of character the sweetness from the mass of chocolate used to make it is actually very restrained – dry one might say. Though despite the restrained sweetness the chocolate is still very evident in a bitter cocoa character, and occasionally a sweeter chocolate ice cream flavour comes out to play for a while. There is a kind of sour cream backing, generally savoury but with that just slight sour twist. So overall the beer is heavy with flavour, and despite the chocolate, never really that sweet.

This then merges with the dry roasted peanut character to slowly transform into a choco-peanut butter big imperial stout. A simple note, well delivered for a consistent quality, very well made beer. Even now it is slightly dry in how the flavours come out, but smooth with it.

Now, early on there were some sweeter notes, even if they were never the most present items, and with it there was an unusual strawberry touch. None of these sweeter notes survive as that peanut butter choco character builds up a head of steam and just takes over the beer.

While comparatively simple for an imperial stout this big, it is brewed to perfection. The style is packed with utter classics, which is the only reason this isn’t getting a “My favourites” entry. It doesn’t quite match the current top set, but it is undeniably great.

Background: Emperor’s Brewery – a brewery I only know by reputation from people mentioning it at Independent Spirit – apparently very hard to get, and they concentrate on making amazing stouts and porters. Which explains why they collaborated with Elusive Brewing to make this. Since I am unlikely to find any of their own beers, this may be the closest I get to trying their stuff for a while. This is a brewed up version of a previous Elusive beer Morrisman, now made with even more chocolate. Or to go by the can, cocoa, chocolate, oats, wheat and vanilla. I went back to Killswitch Engage: Alive or Just Breathing for backing music, something big to go with a big beer.

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