Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


De Molen: Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich (Peated) BA: Brett Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown rim around the glass but no real head.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust. Smoke. Cedar wood. Charring. Bitter coffee. Honey and treacle mix. Pecan nuts. Blueberry. Smoked meat.

Body: Smooth. Big bitter chocolate. Smoke. Big bitter coffee. Charred meat. Thick sour cream mouthfeel. Slightly soured. Beefy. Bitty feeling. Orange juice notes. Blueberry touched.

Finish: Bitter chocolate and bourbon biscuits. Smoke and ash. Sour cream. Bitty feel. Bitter coffee. Slight wet rocks and salt. Nougat.

Conclusion: Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect here with the brett involved. What I got was something big, something full of bitter chocolate, slightly cloyed, thick, and bitty feeling, all backed up by a lot of smoke and beefy flavours.

So how does it compare with the real ale, non brett version of this? Very favourably actually. It seems less harsh, thicker, letting more of the subtle notes come out. There is an odd sour cream kind of twist to it – at a guess I would say that is the brett playing about – thought I couldn’t be sure. It also makes it feel kind of bitty, and it seems to be this character that breaks up the harsh notes from the real ale version.

It really booms out the flavours this time around – still not up there with the Octomore aged Hemel and Aarde that I still kick myself for not doing notes on, but what is? Not as good as the 666 either, but there still feels to be so many odd notes hidden inside this that it has appeal. At times there are subtle hints of orange juice, blueberry and nougat that are just teases at the edge of the beer. I am so tempted to grab one of these to age, just to see what happens.

Still, as it currently is it is a solid set of flavours; Big, surprisingly mellow in the barrel ageing compared to the harsh real ale version – there is a lot of smoke but little harshness. Not a stand out favourite in the Imperial Stout crowd, but utterly rock solid and a bit unusual. That different texture really makes it with that cloying yet bitty mouthfeel. Worth a try as it is, and I am intrigued to see what a bit of brett ageing will do.

Background: Damn that is one long name to type out. Some people may wonder why I am revisiting this, as the Hel and Verdoemenis: Bruichladdich I tried at the Great British Beer Festival didn’t impress me too much. Two main reasons. One, I can find that the real ale delivery can sometimes not suit high abv beers like this. Two, this is a Brett edition, as marked by a tiny label on the side, and I was intrigued by what that would do to this. So, yeah – I tend to return to De Molen for their Imperial Stouts a lot – I really should try more of their other styled beers as they are an excellent brewery. This was grabbed from independent spirit and drunk while listening to Carcass- Surgical Steel. Big beer- big music!

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!

Brewdog: Paradox Islay (2016) (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15%)

Visual: Black. Brown froth edge, and light brown dusting across the still main body.

Nose: Iodine. Wet rocks. Black coffee. Bitter cocoa. Light salt. Brown bread rolls.

Body: Charred oak. Medicinal dryness. Bitter chocolate. Dry character. Riesen chocolate chews. Toffee. Resinous middle.

Finish: Charred oak. Drying. Bready. Popcorn. Medicinal. Bitter cocoa. Nettles. Slightly resinous. Chocolate toffee. Liquorice. Treacle. Smoke.

Conclusion: This is drier than I expected. I don’t know if it is due to the medicinal barrel ageing, or if they have changed the recipe, but this is very different from the usual intensely sweet and frothy Paradox we have generally seen since the jump to 15% abv.

It still has the chocolate and coffee notes, but then now lean more towards the bitter side rather than the creamy or sweet interpretations – less booming and less boozy, which I would imagine would be welcome for some. For me it seems slightly weird, slightly more restrained the base beer feels closer to the old 10% abv Paradox style from many a year gone by.

With a smaller base it instead become all very big in the medicinal influence, a reasonable bitter chocolate kick, but it definitely feels like it is letting more of the oak show. Also oddly it is slightly more resinous alongside that Islay character. Now, I loved the 2015 version of this as I felt it provided the perfect balancing of the base stout’s character and the Islay punch. This leans too much towards the Islay for me and because of that a lot of the complexity of the base beer seems to have got lost beneath it.

It doesn’t make it a bad beer as I often say, but it does mean that is basically exactly what you would expect from this kind of barrel ageing, but not really more than that. It is still fine, but for me the Islay ageing always works better with a bigger character to complement it, otherwise they will end up the same as every other Islay aged stout.

It is still a competent beer and does show the barrel ageing well, but hasn’t anything really on top of that. Not disappointing if that is all you want, but it doesn’t stand out.

Background: Back in 2015 I tried on tap a 13.8% ABV Paradox Islay and it was amazing, at 15%, and bottled I’m guessing this is a bit of a different recipe, and probably aged in a different Islay Distilleries cask – so a great excuse to do another set of notes then🙂 Grabbed directly from the Brewdog online store along with a few other beers, this was drunk while listening to Garbage: Strange Little Birds. Not quite as exceptional as their first two albums, but still a great one burst of alt-rock whateverthehecktheyare. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Imperial Stout

Omnipollo: Noa Pecan Mud Imperial Stout (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Dark caramel rim of a head, and some small suds over the main body. Leaves a viscous sheen in its wake.

Nose: Massive dry roasted nuts. Pecan pie. Brown sugar. Milk chocolate and chocolate fondue. Fudge. Madeira cake. Custard.

Body: Moderate milky coffee. Pecans. Bitter cocoa and milk chocolate mix. Light choc orange. Sherry trifle. Creamy. Vanilla ice cream

Finish: Milky chocolate. Pecans. Fudge. Creamy. Bready notes. Bitter cocoa. Rum and raisins ice cream. Nutty.

Conclusion: Big imperial stout time again! Oh, how I have missed you. This one opens up big with an aroma that just booms nuts – both pecan and dry roasted. Initially it is an all nut assault that slowly slides out into chocolate and Madeira notes at warmth opens it up. Good start.

The first sip didn’t impress quite as much, it took a few seconds to get going. It was never empty but there was a moment where it was more just feeling the texture rather than tasting the flavour. It wasn’t until the second sip that I really started getting more than that. It is worth the wait though – that pecan and chocolate style comes through – initially light then building to an intensity to match the aroma. The flavours progress interestingly as well. Initially big and creamy, as it warms it becomes drier in the pecan notes and a slight chalky backing grounds it and stops the sweetness from becoming sickly.

The finish takes all that and adds a little bit of rum and raisin sweetness, matched by the aforementioned light chalkiness, giving a little twist on the way out. This however is only a small overview, as the notes above attest there are lots of subtle complexities to find in here.

So, this is big and sweet, booming and nutty that makes for a savoury contrast, all complemented by side notes that fill in the Pecan Mud Pie imagery excellently. The only thing that stops this being one of my favourites is the strength of competition in the Imperial Stout range. That is it. On like for like comparisons this is far better than Genghis Pecan, and so stands out as the top of these sweet yet savoury touched Imperial Stouts. So, very good job, good quality, and because of the pecans a bit different. A good package all round.

Background: Had a hard time finding the name for this, it is only written on the back of the bottle and was partly smudged away. Yes the big smily face of this is what caught my attention, the promise of a pecan mud stout what made me buy it. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to Alleujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! By Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I had been playing Dark Souls for the first time during the day, and after dealing with that brutal difficulty I needed good music and beer to relax. That game does not hold your hand at all.

De Molen Hemel & Aarde

De Molen: Hemel & Aarde (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Moderate brownish creamy head.

Nose: Iodine. Peat bogs. Smoked kippers. Seaweed. Blue cheese. Beef broth.

Body: Smooth textured body. Iodine. Light cherries. Chocolate. Salt. Caramel. Beefy – soft and falling apart beef chunks. Milky coffee. Cane sugar. Smoke. Light blue cheese comes out late on.

Finish: Bitter cocoa. Iodine and salt. Coffee. Charred oak. Smoke.

Conclusion: Ok, first things first – this is not as good as the legendary Octomore Barred Aged version of this. How could it be, that thing was liquid heaven; I seriously wish I had done tasting notes on it. This, unfortunately does not manage to quite scale those heights.

The aroma does come close though – big, chewy with blue cheese, seaweed and peat. Beefy, yet medicinal, it is an absolute luxury of big, strong flavours – albeit ones that are learned pleasures – everything is challenging and all mashed up in an aromatic meal.

The body doesn’t quite match that – it still kicks the iodine out, backed by caramel sweetness – still a mix of sweet, bitter and beefy notes, but not overly well integrated. This is where the Octomore barrel ageing in the other version took it to the next level – it took each of these strong elements and mixed it into a coherent whole. Here it is still a mix of big flavours, but you get either the strong medicinal, or the strong sweetness but rarely both at once.

It still has a lot of punch – smoke, cane sugar, coffee – Unfortunately the blue cheese takes a very long time to turn up in the mid body, which is a missed opportunity I feel. I love a good blue cheese filled strong beer. Filled with flavour, not literally blue cheese, of course. Anyway, this is utterly unbalanced – in can be sickly sweet at one moment then drying medicinal the next. I love the flavours it uses but it is very far from polished.

As you have probably worked out already, the octomore aged version rocks on toast. This one is an interesting, but not coherent, experience.

Background: I have tried this beer before! Well, not this exact beer, the octomore barrel aged version. It was heavenly (no pun intended, as the beer name translates as “Heaven and Earth”), an absolute legend of a beer. Unfortunately I did not have my review kit to hand, so now, I try this, the standard version grabbed from Independent Spirit. This imperial stout is made with the most heavily peated malt from the Bruichladdich distillery, so is right up my alley. Drunk while listening to The Algorithm: Brute Force – originally on their youtube channel, but have since bought my own copy of it as I enjoyed it.

Siren Evil Twin Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII - Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged
Siren: Evil Twin: Barrel Aged Even More Jesus VIII – Hazelnut Liqueur Barrel Aged (England: Imperial Stout: 11.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate brown head.

Nose: Thick and oily. Green olives, Balsamic vinegar. Walnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Burnt sugar. Caramel.

Body: Very thick. Brown sugar. Hazelnuts. Chocolate liqueur. Crème brulee. Chocolate fondue. Also slight bitter chocolate. Fudge. Brandy cream. Nougat.

Finish: Custard and chocolate mix. Bitter cocoa dust. Bitter coffee. Sherry trifle. Cherries. Rum. Hazelnut liqueur. Brown sugar. Nougat.

Conclusion: This is such a wonderful example of how to have a huge, thick feeling, big tasting, high abv, Imperial Stout, without having to have it taste overly boozy. In fact, it is worrying how well it does that, I could drink this all down without realising how much I had just drunk.

All the old “Even More Jesus” traits are here – dangerously decadent, thick like chocolate fondue, creamy liqueur notes building up over soft crème brulee mixed with rum spicy complexities. The Siren version was always the louder yet less well integrated version of the two. Here the barrel ageing has papered over the cracks, smoothing, enhancing and integrating the base – and when it can’t quite manage full integration it just layers sweet hazelnuts over it, managing to do with pure force what it cannot do with subtlety and giving yet another string to its bow.

It is therefore still the less subtle of the two, but now it actually manages to shine by itself. It feels like it is trying to show you everything it has at once. The chocolate liqueur – the nuts – the spirit notes – the cream – the nougat. Everything is in your face and awesome, but all manages to complement each other now. It is hard to get bored with it, even before the alcohol hits. After it hits everything just looks warm , fluffy and happy.

So, it is its own thing, not just Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus, but what would happen if all that was turned up to 11 and dosed in Hazelnut. Love it.

Background: Well, any excuse for more “Even More Jesus”. I adore this beer. Yes, grabbed from Independent Spirit. Again. They are close, friendly and have a great selection, so I end up using them a lot. Anyway, this version is aged in Hazelnut Liqueur barrel’s which is enough for me to give it another try. This needed big metal music, so Metal Up from Miracle Of Sound was the order of the day.

Stewarts Elysium 3 Speyside Sherry Malt Edition

Stewarts: Elysium 3: Speyside Sherry Malt Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Short lived brown head that settles to a brown dash over the main body.

Nose: Raisins. Nutmeg. Tannins. Liquorice. Charred oak. Port. Raspberries. Brandy cream. White bread rolls. Mildly astringent.

Body: Sour red wine. Tannins. Charred oak. Bitter cocoa. Cream. Slight cream cheese and chives. Blueberry. Thick. Milky coffee.

Finish: Black cherry and blackcurrants. Slightly dusty. Charred oak and charcoal touch. Raisins. Bitter red wine. Bitter cocoa. Cream cheese. Spiced grapes. White chocolate. Brown bread.

Conclusion: Back when I tried the bourbon version of this I thought it was slightly too light and needed a heavier barrel to give it some heft. Well, damn, this is a heavier barrel.

The nicely textured, creamy, body below is still present with its mild white chocolate notes, but any of the light points have been barricaded up by spicy red wine, tannins and a range of dark fruit. Exactly what the doctor ordered. Though, slightly ironically, this now almost suffers from the inverse issue – that of almost overpowering the base beer. Almost. It keeps just on the right side of the line. While not performing miracles of complexity the base beer provides an excellent thick, creamy, yet slightly dry and bread base beer to work from on the texture side; On the flavour side the sour cream, bitter cocoa and white chocolate seem to create suitable grounding notes for the barrel ageing.

And what wide ranging barrel ageing it is. There are a mix of spiced grapes, dark berries, charred oak – sweet and sour notes meet, harsh then relieving the kick. The oak influence doesn’t feel overly booming though – the drier body keeps it grounded in that cream cheese and sour dough like notes. Generally it works so the experience isn’t as sickly sweet as many big imperial stouts, and so seems less garish.

The dryness does work against it in the finish though – initially fine it does become over dry and cloying over time. A pity as this is generally a very rewarding imperial stout indeed – not one that instantly shows everything, or instantly appeals due to the dryness. One that instead rewards you time.

A challenge and a beer with some flaws, but a challenge worth taking on and drinking.

Background: I managed to get through the wax on this bottle very quickly. This makes me happy. Hard to get into waxed bottles are the bane of my beer drinking existence at the moment. I grabbed this from Independent Spirit as the bourbon aged version had been interesting but just a tad light – I wondered what the extra weight of a speyside ex-sherry barrel would do. This is bottle number 204 of 621. That is a fair small run. Drunk while listening to David Bowie – Blackstar. An absolutely haunting final album from an excellent artist.

Fallen Brewdog Big Raspberry Dog Chew

Fallen: Brewdog: Big Raspberry Dog Chew (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thick creamy inch of brown bubbled milkshake froth.

Nose: Soft chocolate. Large fresh raspberries. Some clean alcohol – vodka? Ice cream caramel sauce drizzled down. Slight salt.

Body: Raspberry crème. Bitter cocoa dust. Hot chocolate and caramel drink. Thick. Whipped cream,. Light salted toffee – grows as the beer warms. Lactose.

Finish: Fudge Sundays. Sweet raspberry sauce. Strong salted toffee. Clean alcohol air. Tart raspberries.

Conclusion: You know, I love beers with odd ingredients, and I always feel sad when you get such a beer where the ingredients don’t seem to have an influence, as that means they might as well not have been there. This has the opposite kind of problem,. You know exactly what you are getting from reading the description and ingredient list on the bottle.

The raspberry especially has a lovely influence – a mix of sweet raspberry cream and tart refreshing character. Despite the heavy abv it leaves your mouth fresh enough to sip again instantly. Yeah, dangerous, but tasty.

The milk stout declares the base – chocolate backed by a huge thick creamy character. We are talking whipped cream, trifle custard mouthfeel and sweetness – the baby sweet stout we are used to but all grown up now. Without the raspberry this would be painfully sickly sweet – as is this is a creamy dessert treat.

The final elements starts out the most subtle – the alcohol in the aroma had a slight salt character which turned an otherwise clean alcohol note into a light Islay touched whisky styling. At this point I had forgotten the salted caramel description and sea salt ingredient so it just seemed an odd note. The body is what reminded me – it starts low but quickly grows the salted toffee up until it almost eclipses the other two – only leaving the refreshing character that makes you continue sipping.

So, a wonderful combination with each point complementing the other. The only, and quite minor, point, is that everything is expected, everything is the listed ingredients. I have to admit I would have liked a few surprises from the base beer, as it feels more like a delivery system for the high concept pitch and special ingredients.

It is a very minor point. This is great, genuinely great, and balances everything so to create a beer stronger than each individual element. My wishes are basically the equivalent of wanting a second ponycorn (half pony, half unicorn) when you already have one. That kind of greed. So, can I have one please?

Background: Think this was one of the beers from last years Brewdog Bar collaberationfest. I think, I missed it last year. Anyway, grabbed this from Independent Spirit, and have had it on the shelf for a while. Imperial Stouts never die, they just age. It is a salted caramel raspberry milk stout, though from the special ingredients listed no caramel is used – instead it is made with raspberry juice, sea salt and lactose Drunk while listening to Dope: Life for a retro kick..

Electric Bear Cherry Blackout

Electric Bear: Cherry Blackout (England: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown head.

Nose: Black forest gateaux and chocolate liqueur. Tart cherries. Sweet chocolate fondue.

Body: Cherry liqueur. Brown sugar. Chocolate cake. Slick and smooth. Light milky coffee. Bitter chocolate. Vanilla. Black forest gateaux.

Finish: Chocolate cake. Low level bitterness. Bitter chocolate. Black forest gateaux.

Conclusion: Man, if only everything could live up to the nose on this one, a nigh perfect expression of fresh tart cherries and Black forest gateaux. It smells like a dessert drizzled in thick fruit liqueur. Stouty, fruity, sweet and stand out – it is excellent. Now, if only everything was as good as those first few moment…

A tad ominous sentence there, maybe a foreboding of bad sentences to come?

Actually, the main body is actually ok – solid chocolate cake with bitter cocoa and chocolate backing. A few rough edges are there with the brown sugar not quite integrated, but the main disappointment is how much the cherries fade out. They are still there as a backing tart liqueur style but it is the chocolate cake that blacks out most of the other notes. Larger mouthfuls do make more of that tart cherries but at 8% abv big mouthfuls are a bad plan for health. The bitter cocoa really leads the beer, still it isn’t all bad, as the beer warms the cherry does gain more foothold, but it never sparkles like it does in the aroma.

It results in a solid and yet still underwhelming beer. It is a solid chocolate cake stout, but it promised so much more and really needs to deliver on that promise to be worth the abv. Still, it is early days for the brewery and there is a darn good base idea for this, so if they can tweak it around the elements that work it could end up something very decent.

Background: Electric Bear are a reasonably new Brewery in Bath, and so I thought it was about time I should pull my thumb out and do tasting notes on one of their beers. I decided to go with this one, picked up from Independent Spirit, an Imperial Stout made with cocoa, brown sugar,vanilla and morello cherries. Drunk while listing to the band “Heck”. I saw that they were touring soon so checked out their free album Knockout Machine.

Stewart Elysium 1 Bourbon Edition

Stewart: Elysium 1: Bourbon Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thick brown head that dissipates to a dusting quite quickly.

Nose: Vanilla. Cherries and fruitcake. Big fudge. Vanilla yogurt. Plums. Big but smooth. Rum soaked raisins. Shortbread. Rye bourbon.

Body: Smooth, almost light. Cocoa powder. Vanilla yogurt. Strawberry yogurt. Plums. Red wine and red berries. White chocolate.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Vanilla yogurt. White chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, this tastes like a white stout. Okay, okay, white stout seems to have many definitions these days, some just based on stout meaning strong. This one tastes like an imperial stout, but with everything switched to white; White chocolate, the vanilla delivered as vanilla yogurt. In fact that yogurt is the element that really makes my point here. Lots of imperial stouts can feel like a chocolate milkshake – this turns that on its head and feels like its yogurt smoothie cousin.

Now the traditional stout flavours aren’t missed out, with dark fruit embedded in it and dark cocoa notes, but that different vanilla yogurt feel and taste mid body puts those traditional notes into a completely different context.

This different take on the Imperial Stout works better as it warms. Cool the yogurt dominates too much and it can make the beer feel kind of empty. Warm you get deep red wine and fruitcake notes that fill the emptiness and create contrast, like raspberries pocked in white chocolate.

In really intrigued to see how much of this is the base beer, and how much the barrel ageing. I’m used to vanilla and toffee notes from a bourbon barrel but not so much that they overpower the base imperial stout character.

Even as it warms it feels a tad too yogurt influenced to be special, a bit thick and cloying. It is very different though and I always appreciate that. I wonder if the Elysium would take better to a heavier barrel ageing. They have other variants so it may be worth a test. Anyway, overall more interesting as an experience than a beer in itself, but it has a lot of promise to make a very different take on the beer if they can just fine tune it.

Background: Grabbed from Independent Spirit, this is one of three barrel aged version of their Elysium imperial stout. The other two being Speyside whisky casks, one ex-sherry and one, I presume, ex-bourbon cask. I decided to go for the bourbon version as I have not tried Elysium and bourbon is often the smoothest and less intrusive barrel ageing method for me, so may give the best idea of the base beer. Or that is the theory at least. Drunk whilst listening to Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip: Repent Replenish Repeat. I love that album.

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