Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


Brewdog: Dog F (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 17.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Small brown grey head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Chilli smoke. Barbecue sauce on ribs. Beef stew.

Body: Barbecue sauce. Chocolate. Moderate chilli heat. Golden syrup. Sugared orange sweets. Cognac late on. Smooth. Dried banana. Brown sugar. Smokey.

Finish: Chilli heat. Chocolate. Orange liqueur and caramelised brown sugar. Smooth cognac. Cocoa dust. Banana custard.

Conclusion: I’m glad I jumped back onto the Dog ( Ascending Letter) series with this one. I was considering holding off, as the last one was very similar, but the promise of cognac ageing lured me in. I try only to do new notes when the beer is reasonably different – and trust me, this is definitely significantly different.

Smooth, and because of that feels far below the heavy duty abv it is packing. There may be some alcohol heat to it, but I wouldn’t know from drinking it – mainly because this packs a higher chilli heat than any of the rest of the Dog (x) series up to this point, so any alcohol heat it does still have is lost under the respectable level of chilli heat. It isn’t overpowering – I definitely like my chilli more towards flavour than heat, and I found it reasonable – but it is still a very distinct presence here.

It is strange, this uses habanero as its chilli, but the smokey heat and flavour actually reminds me more of my favourite chilli – the chipotle! This definitely means that I am looking on the beer more favourably as it has that lovely flavour mixed in with a smooth and viscous texture which creates a distinct almost barbecue sauce type of flavour as a base for the beer.

Now the beer does lose some of the complexity that usually comes with the Dog (x) series due to that heat being so present. A lot of the coffee, black cherry and such are gone. Thankfully the cognac ageing is here to bring some all new complexity back into this! It brings golden syrup and erm .. cognac, orange and such notes. The oddest additional note is a set of banana notes, which I have no idea which ingredient caused them but I am very glad they are there – adds a soft sweetness under the intensity. This is very far from the original Dog A in flavour, and even further from the AB 04 roots before that. This is distinctly its own thing

The beer that existed before is barely seen here – now more a texture, and a chunk of bitter chocolate – the beer it has become however is awesome.

A great entry into a high quality series.

Background: Dog F is the distant relative of one of Brewdog’s early hits of a beer – Abstrakt AB 04 – a chilli, chocolate and coffee infused imperial stout – it evolved a bit into their anniversary beer Dog A which upped the chilli, altered the coffee and added vanilla, which then had a a bourbon aged version when they hit Dog D, and now a cognac version with this one Dog F. I think the recipe has changed a bit each time, but I’ve only gone back to do new set of notes on the really big changes. As well as the barrel ageing, this has changed the chilli used this time – going with habanero, while AB 04 used naga chilli. Probably some other changes as well, but those are the big ones. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I grabbed this from the Brewdog online store and put music on shuffle while drinking, so a fair eclectic mix of metal, punk, electronic and anime soundtracks came up. These days I am getting a bit weary on the waste associated with things like boxing up bottles as this does – however as a 10th anniversary beer I guess it has better call to do so than most.

Brewdog: Paradox Rye (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)

Visual: Black. Short lived brown creamy head that settles to a loose bubble dusting.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Tiramisu. Bourbon. Caramel. Crushed rye crackers. Praline. Crushed walnuts and coffee cake.

Body: Bitter chocolate and coffee cake. Smooth. Low alcohol character. Caramel. Vanilla fudge. Cocoa dust. Slightly bready. Bourbon comes out as it warms.

Finish: Coca dust. Rye crackers. Crushed peanuts. Chocolate cake. Coffee cake. Crushed walnuts and pecan pie. Spirity air. Bourbon.

Conclusion: This has been less influenced by the rye bourbon ageing than I had imagined – at least at first. Initially the alcohol feel, and bourbon feel, in this is pretty low. Alcohol warmth but that is about it on that side.

Instead it is very smooth – chocolate cake and coffee cake styled luxury imperial stout. A lot more nutty that previous Paradoxes though – which I presume is a more subtle piece of influence from the time in the oak.

Strangely there is very little of the big vanilla notes that you tend to get with American oak ageing. Even as the beer warms, and a bourbon air comes out in the finish, it is more subtle than usual. This finally revealed oak ageing influence seems a mixed blessing. It gains a slight spirity feel as it warms. I prefer this sort of thing to feel integrated into the beer, while here it seems to float as a separate note rather than part of the beer itself. Also, for all the beer seems to gain a good nuttiness, in general the beer feels like a very smooth base Paradox separate from those spirity notes. There are comparatively few added elements outside the bourbon air.

So, a mixed blessing, but still a blessing to have spent time in the oak. The oak rest has made it smooth as hell, and the base notes are emphasised in exceptionally good ways because of that. Praline for the chocolate, rich for the coffee cake, and the aforementioned great range of nuts. Very good – it just feels like it needs either less oak influence to ditch the spirity air and indulge the luxury, or more oak influence to add more complex layers to justify the spirit air.

So, not perfect, but a very luxurious smooth imperial stout. Feels like either a great example of what you would want from an unaged imperial stout, or a slightly weak take on an aged one. Make of that what you will.

Background: Ok, we all know the drill by now – big imperial stout. Aged in barrels – in this case Rye bourbon. As always I am not an unbiased actor in Brewdog beer. Grabbed from the Brewdog store. Think that covers the usual stuff. Despite being canned now, this still comes in a presentation box. Which seems a bit of a waste of material, and looks a tad silly. I used to be up for the more fancy things around beers, when they were used occasionally for really special stuff. They are used for so much these days the novelty has worn off and it just looks like an unnecessary waste of resources. Wanted some simple but heavy music for drinking this – so shoved on some Obituary. Nice, heavy and guitar led. Job done.

Brewdog Vs Beavertown: Coffee and Cigarettes (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Brown coffee rim of a head and a dash of a head across the main body.

Nose: Tar. Peat. Brown sugar. Smoke. Thick treacle and caramel. Ash. Honey. Rich coffee. Crushed muscat grapes.

Body: Ash. Smoke. Mild bitter chocolate. Rich coffee beans to coffee cake. Light carrot. Smoked meat. Spiced red grapes.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Smoke. Smoked meat. Shortbread. Bitter coffee. Slight salt air. Slight carrot cake. Cocoa dust. Ash. Spicy grapes. Treacle.

Conclusion: You know, you can rarely criticise Brewdog beers for not matching their concept. This, well it matches the concept to a tee. This has coffee, rich and full up front with thinner and more raw notes at times; This also has ash, smoke and such cigarette imagery. Quite peated and full up front, dry and smokey at the end, with smoke meat dished out throughout to help the idea.

Despite all this, which is impressive, I am a tad disappointed. Please let me explain why. The aroma is a booming beast – tarry, smokey and meaty. It hints and brown sugar and rich, sweet and spicy dark fruit. Frankly amazing. Not quite explaining the disappointment, am I? Give me a mo.

None of the above is entirely absent from the body, but it is far more restrained. Drier really, and a touch lighter. Not thin, but far from the beast of an aroma that dragged you in. A lot of the notes aren’t their at the start as well, they take a long time to develop. The spice grapes especially take some time to build up, so the initial impression are a distinct let down from the wonderful aroma.

When it has built up is is a) Very good and b) still nowhere near as booming as the aroma. While the nose is tarry, caramel thick and full of the burnt sugar the body is dry coffee cake and cocoa dusting. Not bad but distinctly different in intensity.

It is still good though – lost of coffee, spice grapes and caramel taste late on – lots of salt air but far from Islay heavy duty. It is drier than most Imperial Stouts, lighter all times but still complex with tons of well defined smoke and coffee notes. So, despite my criticism I enjoyed it – just a tad too dry, a tad too reined in. Small flaws but with a bit extra boom this could have been a classic.

So, good beer that does the concept well and well balanced. Maybe they made it how they did as a bigger beer would have blown out the balance. Who knows? Any which way, very good, but not ten quid a pop good. For that cost I demand a lot from a beer. Nearly worth it, but not quite for me. Hopefully I’ve given you enough info to decide for yourself if you think it would be worth that much to you.

Background: As I always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This one, a collaboration with the excellent Beavertown brewery, is one with a heck of a lot shoved in. Made with oats, muscovado sugar, coffee then aged in three different whisky casks – Islay, Rye and Bourbon it sounds like from the description at the Brewdog Store. This was drunk while listening to the experimental funk, guitar mash up wonder that is Praxis: Transmutation. Not broken that out for a while, still weird and awesome.

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Wild Beer Co: Billionaire (England: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate caramel brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Malt chocolate. Cocoa dust. Bean paste.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate fondue. Slight moss. Slight oily cooked fish skins. Savoury tofu middle. Slight subtle pickles.

Finish: Chocolate milkshake. Toffee. Tofu. Bean paste. Lactose. Fudge.

Conclusion: Well, this is quite the savoury (Well probably umami, but I’ve never really felt quite qualified to describe that taste), yet sweet also mix. The base stout has all the extra thickness that enhances the Millionaire style. It gives a very solid chocolate, salted toffee and fudge base. No real bitter notes but manages to not push itself to sickly sweet despite that. The lactose instead gives a very chocolate fondue to chocolate milkshake effect.

The savoury elements though are what make it stand out. Initially there wasn’t much in the way of these more unusual flavours – There was a slight moss and lichen taste but over time as the beer thickens a bean paste and tofu flavour (the tasty kind not the shitty bland kind) comes out. It gives nice solid weight to the beer, and as time goes on, those lovely savoury flavours take up a more and more central place in the beer.

It is very solid and far above the already decent Millionaire – it uses the large heft of a 10% abv beer to give it all the weight it needs to pull off the slightly unusual elements. The individual elements are not really distinct, but instead combine together to make an overall feel of the elements in a very different beer.

Very much enjoyed this – both as a beer in itself and as an unusual take on the imperial stout. The exact opposite of the sickly sweet style that seems so popular these days and oh so much better for it.

Background: I’m confused – Wild Beer Co made the beer Millionaire, then Gazillionaire – now Billionaire. Now I know Gazillionaire isn’t really a number, but it sounds bigger than Billionaire, it just does – so it seems an unusual progression. Anyway, this is a bigger version of Millionaire – to a degree – it is made with lactose, sea salt. Caramelised miso and tonka beans. Which sounds both odd and fucking awesome. This was drunk while listening to some Louis Distras, and was done shortly after starting the DLC areas of Dark Souls 2. I earned a treat is what I am saying. Not finding main Dark Souls 2 that hard currently, but the DLC areas are nicely brutal. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

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Independent Spirit: Left Handed Giant: Black Angus (England: Imperial Stout: 9.1% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown bubbles at the edges but only a thin grey dash at the centre.

Nose: Peaty. Wet moss. Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Slight medicinal notes. Cake sponge. Oily cooked fish skin.

Body: Bready. Creamy. Smooth chocolate. Light gin notes. Vanilla. Touch of sugared oranges and orange liqueur. Tart and creamy lemon mix. Chocolate strawberry. Milky coffee. Blue cheese. Nougat.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Creamy lemon. Bready. Bitter coffee. Cream. Chocolate strawberry. More cocoa as it warms. Nougat and vanilla ice cream.

Conclusion: Terrible. Utterly Terrible. No, not really. Was just saying that to wind up everyone at Independent Spirit. Because I am evil. Anyway, cruel jokes aside – going into this I wasn’t sure if it was their Arran or their Fettercairn cask that was used to barrel age this. I thought the Fettercairn was more likely, as the Arran had only been bottled recently, but wasn’t 100% sure. So, now having sipped this (then confirming with the shop, but sipping is the important part) I am 100% certain it is the Fettercairn. It is unmistakable.

Anyway, will get to that later – as we have something a bit different to the usual Imperial Stout story here; However first we have the fact that up front is is exactly what you expect – A heavy, smoked Imperial Stout that booms, all peaty, forthright and meaty. Tempting, but no hint of the barrel ageing here.

This bold, booming front then soothes down into a creamy, lemony and orange influenced body – utterly shouting the Fettercain influence over the chocolate and coffee notes that you would expect. It wears the weight of the smoke openly, but ends up creamy and sweet heading out into a very different last note on the finish from the peaty smoke that welcomed you on the nose.

This develops even more with time and heat – the smoke style brings subtle blue cheese as it warms, which adds a well used savoury note to go with the sweeter creamy style.

The more traditional chocolate and coffee notes, while there, and more present when warm, actually feel more like a backbone for the more unusual notes to do their work. The smooth texture the barrel ageing brings has given a lot of room for the interesting notes to float. Often a smoother Imperial Stout can feel too light for me, but here it just seems to give room for the lemon,cream and such like to work.

You have a very competently made and very different beer here. Heavy up front, smooth out back with surprises in-between. Very good indeed, and I’m not just saying that to avoid getting barred from the shop.

Background: Bias warning: Independent Spirit jokingly said they would ban me if I gave this a bad review. I am 90% sure they were joking. Probably. Anyway, grabbed from the aforementioned shop this is their collaboration beer of which only 188 Bottles exist. It is a smoked Imperial Stout that has been aged in the cask that previously held Independent Spirit’s Fettercain whisky release. Drunk while listening to Massive Attack: Mezzanine. It is almost cliché by this point to love the opening track – “Angel” but it rocks, and the entire album is wonderful background atmosphere for drinking music.

Kees: Barrel Project #04/2016 (Imperial Stout: Netherlands: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey-brown dash of a head.

Nose: Toffee. Prickly alcohol. Bourbon. Vanilla. Treacle toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Wet wood. Chalk dash. Mild ginger bread.

Body: Chocolate liqueur and frothy chocolate fondue. Vanilla. Blended whisky. Slight sour cream twist. Prickling alcohol touch, but light and smooth underlying texture. Caramel. Light peppermint. Cocoa.

Finish: Charcoal and charred oak. Milky chocolate. Slight gherkin sour fresh note. Caramel. Cocoa pops in chocolate milk. Light peppermint. Bitter coffee.

Conclusion: I found the oatmeal stout from Kees in this Barrel aged project to be a tad too smooth and light – oatmeal stouts should have a bit of weight to them. This as “just” an imperial stout, is still a tad light in its smoothness, but is in a style that suits more, and also, oddly actually has a bit more weight to it.

Flavour wise this really runs straight down the middle of what you would expect for what it is. It’s a barrel aged Imperial Stout and brings cocoa, smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee at the base – the barrel ageing bringing in caramel and vanilla notes. So nothing really unexpected. Warmth actually thickens it up just enough from the slightly light touch when chilled. So all very competently done.

Not having had many grain barrel aged beers, I would say that this comes across as a mix of prickling blended whisky character and bourbon sweetness – which sounds about right from what I would expect single grain to give. So again, it is spot on to expectations – not more – not less. Very smooth, very refined, but doesn’t surprise in the least. Not a bad thing when what you expect is a high quality imperial stout. Doesn’t stand out beyond that though, still can’t complain about it being very well done.

So – basically a very good, treacle toffee, smooth chocolate, vanilla caramel and touches of bitter coffee Imperial Stout. If you want to dig there are slight sour cream notes and slight peppermint hints, but mainly it plays in straight. No regrets, but no soaring new experience.

Just a very good barrel aged imperial stout. Just I say….

Background: Second of the Kees’ Barrel Project beers I have grabbed from Independent Spirit. The first I tried was good, but a bit light – but generally good, so decided to give this one a go. This one has been aged in Girvan single grain barrels – since I had a bit of a Girven experience last year it seemed a nice thing to try. I am as big fan of Imperial Stouts, but try and pace out having them, lest they become commonplace to me.


De Molen: Cuvee #5 (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin grey brown dash for a head.

Nose: Slightly salty, medicinal air. Peat and dried beef. Cocoa dust.

Body: Sweet chilli and hoisin sauce. Brown bread character. Sour cream. Dried beef. Plums. Slight funky feel. Slight smoke and salt. Mature cheese. Cherry. Creamy texture. Green peppers.

Finish: Chilli jam. Charring. Bitter. Salt. Green peppers. Slight mature cheese. Sweet chilli. Smoke.

Conclusion: I was worried that the chilli was going to be dangerous here. My last, and previously only, experience with De Molen chill imperial stouts was at GBBF a few years back and was like drinking molten lava. As in the flavour was great but I couldn’t finish a third as the heat just stuck to your mouth. This, this is pretty sweet chilli styled. I had been steeling myself up for a while before going in for the first sip and the relief when it turned out to be manageable was immense.

This is, as seems to happen a lot with varied De Molen Imperial Stouts, is quite a mixed up set of flavours. The chilli is sweet, the chocolate is bitter, the air medicinal, smokey and peaty, the base kind of fruity and mature cheese touched. Out of all this I noticed that a lot of the more dominant flavours were on the savoury end – with, in an unusual twist, it being the chilli that actually gave the main sweet contrast. You don’t get to say that often.

It is a very interesting beer, I don’t see many Imperial Stouts, or even standard stouts, go heavy and all in on the savoury character – with the big malt used there tends to be at least a slight sweet leaning; Less still do you find that savoury matched with such big Islay flavours – usually big harshness like that is matched by bigger sweetness to contrast. For all it is interesting, you may have guessed that a beer I find interesting and a beer I genuinely enjoy are two different things.

I generally appreciate something a bit different, and I can dig this for that. You really can take your time digging into this, almost always finding new notes – but when the new notes you get are such like green pepper it does not feel like you are rewarded so much for your effort. So, a very layered and interesting savoury fest, but one I bounce off when I try to just sit back and enjoy it.

Background: Ok I grabbed this one as it is a blend of Hel & Verdoemenis and Spanning & Sensatie, aged on Octomore and Bruichladdich whisky barrels The words that grabbed me was the Octomore Barrel ageing. I tried Octomore Hemel & Aarde at a London beer show a few years back and it was glorius. I have since been trying to, if not find that beer again, find a beer that comes close. Hel & Verdoemenis variants have been from good to great for me, never tried Spanning & Sensatie, but looking at the bottle it seems that it was an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, chilli peppers and sea salt. Unusual. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit .

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.

Brewdog: Abstrakt: AB 21 (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Inch of caramel brown froth. Redish if held to the light

Nose: Dry black liquorice. Blackberry. Sour cream.

Body: Liquorice all-sorts. Blackcurrant. Sour chewy sweets. Sour black cherry. Dry. Slight charred wood and charcoal. Slight funky, yeastie note. Some bitter chocolate. Light toffee. Creamy as it warms, yet still dry late on.

Finish: Black liquorice. Tart black cherry. Black currant. Bitter and lightly charred. Black pepper and pepper seeds. Charcoal dust. Gooseberry and Ribena as it warms.

Conclusion: Erm, well, it does what it says on the tin – well, bottle anyway. Blackcurrant? Somewhat. Liquorice? Very much so. Aaaand, that’s kind of it.

The base Imperial Stout is kept to simple notes – fairly polished simple notes though – predominantly using a charred, bitter back with some hints of bitter chocolate, but not much. The main thing the base gives is a very good texture – it is a nice, kind of oatmeal stout thickness kind of thing – just the kind of feel and grip the beer needs.

The berries come out more with warmth, the liquorice plays with the cold. With the liquorice ascendant it feels very dry, and very, very liquorice filled. I will admit it tastes better than most uses of liquorice in a beer – there is a slight sweetness that makes it feel like all-sorts, and that helps it get not too dry, which is a common problem I find. However it is much better as it warms, the light tart edges becoming a more fruity front face.

It gains a mix of Ribena, tart black cherry and tart fruit gum sours. A more bright mix and far more enjoyable for me, plus a bit more complex. However, while it is more complex than before, it still isn’t very complex in general. It is a good drink, but very similar to already existing blackcurrant and liquorice stouts that aren’t ten quid a bottle. It is well made enough, but not better than those, nor is it particularly innovative or unique. As a standard Brewdog beer, I would give this a thumbs up. As an expensive Abstrakt it doesn’t earn its place with either ingenuity or complexity, Good, but too costly for what it is.

Background: This seems kind of normal for an Abstrakt beer – for those who don’t know Abstrakt is Brewdog’s one off specials, and tend to be pretty out there. This one is an Imperial Stout made with liquorice and blackcurrants. Grabbed straight from Brewdog’s shop, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Abstrakts have started waxing their bottles – eh, it is done kind of ok – wax does get on my nerves these days due to overuse, but at least this one was fairly easy to get off. Think that is everything for this one.

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.

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