Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


Kees: Caramel Fudge Stout: Pedro Ximenez Edition (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown rim instead of a head.

Nose: Creamy caramel. Spicy red berries. Strawberry. Dessert wine. Fudge. Cream chocolate.

Body: Creamy chocolate. Thai seven spice. Spicy rum. Sulphur. Peppery. Fudge. Milky chocolate. Fatty butter.

Finish: Thai spice. Cocoa dust. Bourbon biscuits. Peppery. Brown bread. Fatty butter. Rye crackers.

Conclusions: Wow, I always knew that PX barrels carried some weight to them, but the flavours from it utterly pound over the base beer here.

Now, the base beer still shows itself – creamy and thick with lots of weight to it – but the sweeter caramel notes shown by the aroma seem to be overwhelmed by the time you hit the body and only a little of the fudge shows through. So the name of the beer seems slightly misleading in that it has now become a PX delivery system.

It is slightly sulphurous, dry spice and peppery in a rye kind of way into solidly bitter character. Pretty much the opposite of the base beer, and with surprisingly bitter red wine character hanging throughout. I always thought of PX as a very sweet wine, and sweet in its influence. Here there is very recognisable wine influence but it is more savoury, spicy and sulphury in its influence. Nothing is going as I expected with this beer.

The sweetness tries to swell below, but it is always a second string to this bow, to mix my metaphors. I mean 1) This is still good. But 2) This is nothing like what the name “Caramel Fudge Stout” would make you think. Instead you get what is left of the sweetness used to deliver a slightly bitter, spicy red wine character into heavy spice.

So, very spicy, very intense. I prefer a more subtle spice usage, and barrel ageing, but I am still impressed by it.

People into spicy beers will definitely get more from this than I did, and it is perfect for them.

Background: Don’t think I ever did notes on the standard Caramel Fudge Stout, so jumping right in here with the Pedro Ximenez barrel aged version. Done a lot of the barrel aged beers from Kees and they tend to be impressive for the most part, so was hoping for good things from this. This was just before I went to see IDLES live so put on IDLES: Brutalism to get in the mood. Oh, in related news. Fuck the Tories. Fuck Boris Johnson the fucking piece of shit. Also, this beer was bought from Independent Spirit. Who are nice people.

Hackney: Evil Twin New York: Nightowls (England: Imperial Stout: 14% abv)

Visual: Black. Still. Large creamy, caramel brown head.

Nose: Creamy coffee. Fudge. Cashews and hazelnuts. Praline. Dry roasted peanuts.

Body: Very creamy and thick. Creamy coffee. Toffee. Vanilla yogurt. Mocha coffee. Hazelnut coffee.

Finish: Milky chocolate to chocolate milkshake. Creamy coffee. Chocolate mini rolls. Some alcohol feel in the air. Bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: This is 14% abv. Wait, what? Really? Ok, I should have guessed. It is super thick and that needs a good sized malt load, and accompanying abv, to manage. Beyond that, if you are looking for it, there is a distinct warming alcohol air to the finish. But generally it feels neither boozy nor burning.

The other hint was that my handwritten notes look like shit because I am drunk. That should have been a clue. I am such a lightweight.

The definition of the coffee flavour in this is exceptional. It is well rounded, showing of a huge range of subtle notes that can often be lost in a heavy beer and without going the uber bitter route of some coffee stouts. It is up there with Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch Weasel for the sheer clarity of the coffee notes. Beyond that the creamy coffee that is its mainstay it flirts with a more mocha influenced take and hazelnut coffee take as it mixes with the stout flavours. Now, in general it does lean towards the sweeter take on coffee, but I will admit I prefer that look in my beer over the very straight bitter coffee take.

The sweetness does have a counterbalance – oddly enough the main balance is a well developed chocolate set of notes. While some are sweet and milkshake style, there is a bitter cocoa dust underlying it that mixes with the more bitter end of the coffee notes to ground the huge, thick, sweet imperial stout.

Outside of the wonderfully expressed coffee I will admit it not the most wide ranging stout for flavours, but its wonderful use of the coffee more than makes up for that in my opinion.

A single minded base, with a few concessions, but huge and epic flavour. I utterly love it.

A genuine contender for Beer Geeks Brunch Weasels crown and a must get if you like coffee.

Background: Ok, I mainly grabbed this as it is a collaboration with Evil Twin, who are awesome. Even if it is the New York branch which did the disappointing GOAT beer. Anyway, this is a huge 14% abv imperial stout made with coffee. Ok, so coffee imperial stouts are far from an unusual thing these days, but I still had high hopes for it. Went with a bit of metal for background music – Shadow’s Fall : The War Within. Big music for a big beer. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Left Handed Giant: Double Dot Matrix (England: Imperial Stout:8.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. A cream brown cm of a head.

Nose: Cherry. Black cherry. Crushed chocolate bourbon biscuits. Creamy.

Body: Cherry liqueur. Black-forest gateaux. Vanilla cream. Cocoa dust. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Fudge. Black-forest Gateaux. Red cherries. Cocoa. Crushed peanuts.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a black-forest gateaux stout. BOOM. Notes Done.



Ok, I have to do more. It’s in my contract. A contract which I wrote for myself. To myself. I hate me some times.

This is very smooth, slightly creamy which gives a nice weight to it. There are hints of booze, especially in the finish. Nothing harsh, nor that thick boozy feel, just a pleasant reminder to be careful when drinking this. It is very cocoa to creamy chocolate bourbon biscuit at the base. It would be a smooth, satisfying, if lacking range, stout even without the special ingredients – making a good base for the rest to work from.

Layered on that is a lot of vanilla cream, vanilla toffee and some fudge style that adds sweetness and thickness onto that, combining to make a very creamy beer indeed. The base bitter cocoa keeps the sweetness in check though, so it all works out very well.

So, the cherries then. Actually initially a lot of it comes across as red cherry to cherry liqueur notes, all bright and such rather than the black-cherries actually used. The black-cherries still do their work though as the brightness dies down, mixing with the bitter cocoa, cream and such to give ….

A black-forest gateaux stout. BOOM. Notes Done.

If you use that to loop back to the start now this could end up an infinite review.

Anyway, a smooth and creamy stout, with great black-cherry usage. This is a spot on imperial stout that is dominated but not totally overpowered by its special ingredient. So very good.

Background: So far I have not been overly taken with LHG hoppy beers, not that they are bad, just that they have not entranced me. So I decided to try this to experiment more with their malt led side. Dot Matrix was a milk stout collaboration made with Stillwater. This is a brewed up Imperial Stout take on that. The stout is made with Cacao nibs, vanilla, black cherry and dextrose. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I went with a mix of Gogol Bordello tracks for music while drinking this.

Senne: Bellwood: Imperial Donkey (Belgium: Imperial Stout: 8.8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin dark brown dash of a head.

Nose: Vinous white grapes. Yeastie champagne. Liquorice. Subtle cherries. Dry Madeira.

Body: Bready bitterness. Sour cream. Dry white wine. Slightly astringent. Dry Madeira. Dry cherry. Dry spice. Tannins. Light cocoa.

Finish: Sour dough. Dry white wine and white grapes. Champagne. Sultanas. Spicy dry red wine. Subtle bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Ok, my first though was “What type of wine barrel did this spend time in?” On first breaking open the bottle, as I desperately tried to pour it into the glass before it frothed over, I got hit with a distinct, strong dry white wine into champagne character on the nose, with the imperial stout character lost under that due to its intensity.

The stout character comes out more as a bready, earthy kind of thing in the main body. For an imperial stout those flavours come across as fairly restrained.

What makes me question the barrel ageing is then how it changes, becoming spicier with dry red wine character coming out. Initially dry Madeira like notes into full on spicy red wine by the end via a few dry dark fruit hops in-between.

It is very barrel ageing dominated, even if I can’t quite pin down exactly which wine barrel it spent time in. There are slight cocoa to chocolate notes late on, but if you are enjoying this, chances are it is because the barrel ageing brought you there, rather than anything else.

As of such, it is not really for me. I like what the ageing notes bring, but I really need more beer backing it up. The beer just feels lost here. So, very vinous, lots of wine character and range, but so very little beer. May be for you, was not for me.

Background: Been a while since I had a beer from Senne, they have been stonking good in most of their past beers, so this one caught my eye at Independent Spirit – A barrel aged English style Imperial Stout. From googling I confirmed that it was a wine barrel as I thought, but yet to find anything that tells me the type. If you know please drop a comment and fill me in. Don’t know much about Bellwood Brewery apart from the fact they are a Toronto based brewery in Canada and they did a Beavertown collab I tried. For a heavy dark beer like this I put Arch Enemy – Wages of Sin on in the background to match.

Lervig: Saskatoon Cheesecake Stout (Norway: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Short lived brown head that settles quickly into a brown rim around the glass.

Nose: Blueberry. Cheesecake. Boozy. Raisins. Liquorice touch. Toffee liqueur. Raspberry.

Body: Chocolate liqueur. White chocolate. Cheesecake. Blueberry. Boozy. Malt loaf. Bready backing. Cocoa.

Finish: Malt loaf. Blueberry cheesecake. Bready. Bitter cocoa. Earthy bitterness.

Conclusion: This feels like it should be a white/blond stout. Getting the flavours you do but from a dark beer feels confusing, or at least partially. There are very obvious cheesecake notes, white chocolate notes. It isn’t overwhelmed by these notes but they are present enough that it leads to a very different experience to your standard imperial stout. Over that base tart, kind of blueberry but not, notes are layered. It feels kind of like a blue raspberry if that makes sense. I wonder if such a thing actually exists. Will have to google it.

So, as a result this is very much a dark fruit cheesecake beer, but against that are the darker standard imperial stout undertones. There are more expected cocoa notes and a solid bready base, even a slight earthy bitterness in the finish – lots of notes to add complexity and offset sickly sweetness.

So, it is just about recognisable as a standard imperial stout, mixed with lot of big blond stout notes, mixed with fruit desserts. It is so good. Like a lot of beers in this style it feels a tad “boozy”, heavy but not burning alcohol, which is fine by me, but a turn off for some – so be warned.

That extra boozy character does come with benefits though- a good mouthfeel, thick and tongue coating. The malt gives sweetness, but with bitter cocoa and tart fruit to contrast well. This really is a master-work of a high abv beer. Different to the norm, high quality, varied and shows the alcohol but isn’t dominated by it.

I whole heartedly recommend this. An excellent dessert beer that doesn’t forget the beer side of the equation.

Background: Saskatoon is a place in Canada, also a blueberry looking berry. I presume this is named after the second, though who knows, beers that taste like places may be the new big thing for all I know. My finger is not on the pulse is what I am saying. Anyway, Lervig have made some tidy heavy beers, and boy do I like cheesecake, so this jumped out at me when I saw it at Independent Spirit. Genuinely been feeling out of sorts this week with all the politics bullshit, so had on Marie Davidson – Perte D’identite for music that sounds as weird and disjointed as I do. Possibly not the best thing for my mental health but great music.

De Molen: Het Uiltje: Light The Darkness (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 19.3% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Very viscous pour. Thin brown rim of a head.

Nose: Chocolate liqueur. Thick fudge. Boozy vanilla. Bourbon and rye mix. Buttered crumpets. Burnt marshmallow. Cocoa dust. Light smoke and moss. Treacle.

Body: Thick. Oily chocolate. Vanilla toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Mild choc limes and choco strawberry. Heather. Slight alcohol air. Crumpets. Salt.

Finish: Chocolate cake and chocolate liqueur. Alcohol air. Hazelnut chocolate. Coffee cake. Cocoa dust. Brown bread. Salt.

Conclusion: This is stupidly smooth for an over 19% ABV beer. I mean, it has alcohol weight – there is no way to completely hide it, but it feels at most a kind of 10% ABV warm, boozy, tingling kind of thing – but not rough in any way. Considering it has been ice fortified that is even more impressive, that method is one that tends to bring out the harsher alcohol edges in my experience.

It is thick, oily, chocolate liqueur like with soft choc-fruit notes underneath like choc lime and choc strawberry. Though I will admit those notes could be just weird mental images coming out from impressions of the higher alcohol.

As you might expect of a thick Imperial Stout like this, the oak influence is huge. Lots of vanilla toffee from the oak, extra oily, slightly fruity notes from the Speyside whisky, there are even heavier notes that feel like Islay influence, even if there is no actual Islay ageing to attribute that to. Those last set of notes could be the high abv, showing themselves as slight medicinal and salt notes rather than harsh evident booze.

It’s basically the big barrel aged stout pushed about as thick and heavy as it can get without sacrificing itself to the alcohol. It isn’t a revolution of a beer, but it is big, fun and well made. Lots of chocolate, a solid bready to crumpet core to give a chewy weight, odd subtle notes and crammed to the gills with barrel ageing influence.

I’m loving it – boozy but not harsh. The boozy character may still put off some, but if you are up for the idea of an ice fortified beer, then you should already expect the booze. This is polished, smooth complex and rich – all good by me.

Background: Ok, I mainly grabbed this as I feel it may be sued into oblivion if they ever try to do another batch. Star wars themed images, name and box. Disney are not known for being understanding. Apart from that this also looked like a decent beer – an ice fortified Imperial Stout aged in Speyside whisky casks with American oak chips. Nice. Also a collab between two awesome Netherlands based breweries, so I had confidence it would not just be some harsh high booze waste. I’ve seen this listed as an Eisbock online a lot – which is odd, as to my knowledge an Eisbock is an ice fortified dopplebock, while the base of this is an Imperial Stout. I could be wrong and the term has expended to be any ice fortified beer, but for now I am listing it as an Imperial Stout. This is one bought at Independent Spirit, I drank it after getting back from watching Captain Marvel – it seemed appropriate. Great fun film – especially for a 90s kid like me. Gogol Bordello came up on random on my music player, so shoved some of them on while drinking. For what I hope are understandable reasons, I was a tad drunk while doing notes on this – I’ve tried to make them somewhat readable here but I had less to work with than usual. Hope they are ok.

Northern Monk: Evil Twin: Even More Death (England: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Massive brown creamy head.

Nose: Coconut macaroons. Milky chocolate. Chocolate toffee. Smooth. Creamy.

Body: Creamy. Coconut. Chocolate ice cream. Brown bread. Cocoa dust. Chocolate cake. Slight sour dough.

Finish: Chocolate ice cream. Coconut. Bitter cocoa and chocolate cake. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Flavour wise this is fairly straightforward, smooth and very dessert and especially chocolate influenced. There you go – the short version.

Basically, 90% of this is chocolate bing expressed in various different ways. 5% of it is coconut, wonderful, lovely coconut. I love coconut in beer in case you hadn’t noticed. The other 5% is a nice set of general rounding notes.

The solid core of that is chocolate cake, quite basically done – dusted with cocoa but without any icing or cream, mainly just the sponge. Oddly, despite this dryness there are creamy notes to the beer, though mainly in the aroma and the early part of a sip. Those creamy notes soon move out of the way for heavier, drier chocolate sponge notes though. Around the edges there are sweeter chocolate ice cream notes – though I may be slightly influenced in how I view it as it is bloody nippy at the moment, so ice and the like may be on my brain.

The coconut matches that drier character -sweeter coconut macaroons up front, but then into drier coconut flakes in the middle. For such a high abv beer it does seem very restrained in how it uses its sweetness; The bitter cocoa has much more free rein, using the softer, sweeter notes mainly to keep it from becoming too harsh.

It is good, but there isn’t a huge amount of variety to it – what is interesting and fun in the first sip seems slightly staid by the time you get the same notes at the end. A solid tasty beer, but Even More Jesus does it better. Though frankly, Even More Jesus is amazing so that is comparatively mild criticism.

Background: Even more Jesus is one of my favourite Imperial Stouts of all time. Northern Monk have been skyrocketing up my respected brewery list , and their collaborations have been awesome. This, a collaboration, involving Northern Monk to make a mix of their Death imperial stout, and Even More Jesus. Well, there is no way I could not try it, is there? So, it is a 12% abv Imperial Stout made with coca nibs, toasted coconut and vanilla pods. Drank this during an utter flurry of snow outside, so was happy to be sitting in with something heavy, dark and boozy. Music wise and went simple and back to my youth with a mix of Madness tunes again for some simple upbeat fun with a few heavier themed tunes in-between.

De Molen: Said & Done – Bowmore Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 10.4% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Viscous. Thin brown head.

Nose: Salted caramel. Sour black cherry. Walnut liqueur. Toffee liqueur. Creamy chocolate. Walnut coffee cake. Praline. Mildly vinous. Sour red grapes.

Body: Viscous. Oily smoke. Salted caramel. Medicinal notes. Bitter chocolate cake. Sour black-cherry hints. Charring. More caramel as it warms.

Finish: Toast. Charring. Bitter. Cocoa touches. Walnuts. Bitter chocolate cake. Medicinal. Gunpowder tea. Burnt moss. Choc orange. Caramel. Smoke.

Conclusion:What the fuuuuuucck even is this? It is…it is…erm. Ok, give me a moment. OK, the aroma sells it as a mix of imperial stout and a good chunk of the caramel influence. There is very thick caramel, here in a salted caramel way, which I presume is the influence of the Islay ageing adding the salt. Next to that is a lot of liqueur notes – from toffee, to a nutty style which again is showing the special ingredients through strongly. It is a very thick aroma, very sweet and very complex. The thing that surprised me most is that for a sour stout, this seemed to lean more towards the standard imperial stout in these first impressions.

The body is, well it is half that – the back half of the beer is what you would expect from the aroma. The front half is nothing at all fucking like that. Up front it is a thick oily smoke thing, medicinal notes and charring kicking behind that. The Islay barrel ageing booms, holding onto the front half until it finally lets go so the caramel and nutty notes can come back. It is a heck of a shock to the system after the aroma pulls you in by whispering sweet nothings.

Then, in the finish it pulls another trick. Starting as a sweet sheen before sinking into medicinal notes, smoke, gunpowder tea and in general full on Islay times again. This level of harsh notes is an easy look to do badly, and at times this teeters on the edge of being too harsh, but generally works very well.

On the down side, the sour stout is nearly completely lost in the mix. There are hints of sour black-cherry at times, but generally it is either full of sweet liqueur notes, or the heavy Islay character. When the sour stout does show up that sour black cherry does work as a nice step between two sides, so I wish it was just a touch more present – but I guess you can’t have everything.

As is it is really good, if occasionally a tad overly harsh touched. A touch more of the sour stout and it would have been exceptional. Ah well, still a great and strange beer mash up.

Background: Ok, this is a … Hold on while I look it up … sour stout made with walnut extract, caramel and salt, then barrel aged in a Bowmore whisky cask. So fuck yes I was buying this one, that is incredible. Well in theory anyway, had to wait to see if it held up in practice. Anyway, another on grabbed from Independent Spirit. Yes again. Not much else to add. I should stop playing Dark Souls 3 before my eyes bleed but that is neither here nor there for this beer. I’d got the new Louise Distras EP -Street Revolution recently, so put it on while drinking. Good first impressions so far.

Dugges: Banana Toffee Chocolate Imperial Stout (Sweden: Imperial Stout: 11.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin creamy brown dash of a head.

Nose: Thick banoffee pie. Very ripe banana. Creamy chocolate to chocolate fondue. Boozy. Oily chocolate. Thick caramel. Praline. Nuts.

Body: Banana liqueur. Banana ice cream syrup. Banoffee pie. Pecan pie. Praline. Nutty oiliness. Slight brown bread. Bitter cocoa backing.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Sweet chocolate. Banoffee pie. Ripe banana. Walnuts. Pecan pie. Bitter coca. Brown bread.

Conclusion: Ok, they missed a trick in not calling this “Banoffee Pie Imperial Stout”. Because this is a god damn huge banoffee pie imperial stout. Maybe the dessert isn’t as well known in Sweden? I have no idea.

Any which way this is basically a mix of thick overripe banana to banana syrup laden over chewy toffee to caramel backed by a moderately bitter cocoa core with some sweet chocolate notes. So, as mentioned, basically banoffee pie in a glass.

There is a tad more subtlety than you would expect from a beer of this type. There is a nutty oiliness and oily chocolate notes, into pecan pie notes. In fact it seems to like sweeter nut notes in general to round out the character.

As time goes on it seems that some of the more sickly sweet notes are lost -which is probably for the best, even though I do miss them – If they had stayed around I would probably have found them wearing over time. Instead bitter cocoa notes and some solid brown bread character come out creating a heavy middle, with the sweeter notes still dancing around the edges.

Definitely not an imperial stout that is for everyone. It very heavily leans on the dessert beer style, which I will admit is a style that can be over exposed at times. However I can’t blame this beer for the rest of the beer scene’s sins, and this is one of the better dessert style stouts – it sells the idea so very well, yet has subtleties beyond that idea.

After much arguing with myself I have decided that this doesn’t quite earn the “My Favourites” tag. Just. It is still really good and fans of sweeter imperial stouts should definitely grab it as soon as they can.

Background: This is the second time I’ve had this, first time I enjoyed it so much I decided I had to do notes on it. So, yeah spoiler warning. These notes are going to be positive. Then again I put this background at the bottom, so shouldn’t be spoiling anything if you are reading sequentially. Anyway, grabbed from Independent Spirit this is is an Imperial Stout made with cacao, vanilla, coconut, rye and oats. Oh, and natural flavours which I resume account for the banana. Wanted something heavy and odd to go with this musically so broke out Marie Davidson – perte d’identite.

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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