Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


Pilot: Barrel Aged Double Mochaccino Stout (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.3% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque. Brown rim of bubbles around the glass and a grey dash over the centre.

Nose: Full bitter coffee to coffee cake with walnuts. Vanilla. Rye whisky undertones. Peppery. Carrot cake. Some low level rum notes. Whisky air.

Body: Smooth. Cherries. Palma violets. Black cherries. Milky chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Very light liquorice. Rum. Fruity whisky notes. Orange jelly sweets. Peppery. Coffee cake.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Milky coffee. Coffee cake. Light liquorice. Apple clean spirity notes. Cocoa. Seville orange. Pear drops.

Conclusion: You know, if they haven’t had stated that this was Speyside whisky barrel aged I would have sworn that it had spent some time in rum wood as it has some light rum spiciness in under there.

Anyway, there is a noticeable alcohol character to this, which is to be expected given the high abv and barrel ageing, but despite that it isn’t a “boozy” feeling drink. Instead it is very smooth, and dangerously easy to drink from that. In a way it is a good thing that it is in a tiny 250 ml bottle at this abv or a could quaff a lot of it, with bad results for my health.

It starts off very cake driven, with coffee cake, carrot cake, a whole cake kind of thing going on giving a very thick and often coffee led aroma. Which is part of what makes that smoothness of body such a surprise.

The body therefore starts smooth and sweet with a lot of cherries and black cherries giving a very fruity front. It is easy drinking and delicious here. As time goes on the rum like spiciness and more rye like spicy character rises to make it a slightly more savoury and complex beast that the fruity burst at the front.

The whisky ageing shows itself more late on as a subtly fruity whisky character that floats in the background. It is a clean, slightly spirity and fruity sheen that clings to everything but never dominates.

So this is a beer with a great start, lovely progress and is smooth as silk but with so much progression.

I would say, if you see it, grab it, but I don’t want more competition for getting hold of the remaining bottles!

Background: I’ve had this a few times and kept meaning to do notes, so finally I have. In a tiny 25 cl bottle, this is taken from four speyside whisky casks that were filed with Double Mochaccino Stout. So pretty much exactly what it says in the name. Grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with IDLES: Brutalism again as drinking music. Still listening to them a lot, and looking forwards to when I finally get to see them live again.

Seven Islands: Dulce De Banana (Greece: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Dash of a brown head.

Nose: Banana syrup. Caramel. Licorice. Crumpets.

Body: Toffee. Chocolate liqueur. Banana syrup. Honey. Boozy core. Cream. Chocolate cake sponge. Toffee liqueur. Tiramisu.

Finish: Cream. Banana syrup. Chocolate liqueur. Chocolate cake sponge. Toffee liqueur. Sweet danish pastry. Hundreds and thousands. Blended whisky. Alcohol soaked sponge.

Conclusion: Ok, even more so that their PBJ dessert stout, this is a stupidly sweet, syrupy, mess. So, any which way, I couldn’t wait to get my lips around it.

Also the can image looks rude.

By far the banana is the stand out element – it just booms cheap banana syrup character. Probably not something that sounds appealing to most people, but I will admit I am enjoying its silly, sweet character.

Like their similar pastry stout PBJ this shows its alcohol in a boozy, kind of whisky like set of notes. Here it shows as a reasonable, if not special, quality blended whisky kind of style. An obvious alcohol character, but not a bad one – just very noticeably boozy. Again, it hasn’t been whisky aged, so is a very odd set of notes to find.

Apart from that there is a lot of toffee, and spirit soaked tiramisu style in a cream meets toffee meets alcohol meets everything else kind of mash of …. stuff.

I mean, you saw the can, maybe read the ingredients list, you kind of already knew what this offers, what you probably want to know is it actually any good? Well it is a sickly sweet, thick blended whisky touched .. thing. It could probably give sugar shock just by looking at it.

But that doesn’t answer the question does it?

So, erm yeah. Well it is chewy, and yet still fairly smooth – a decent mix for a mouthfeel. The alcohol, though whisky styled is not rough. For something that plays as cheaply sweet as this done, it is as polished as you will get for that kind of dessert beer trip.

So, cheap thrills, but well made for that. I enjoyed it. If you don’t automatically hate the dessert beer style, then you may have fun with it too.

Background: Soo, I had this a while back and did not do notes on it back then. I will admit, 90% of the reason I bought another was to do notes so I could share the can image with you. Back when Indie Spirit first got it in they put up photos of this and Boi Juice side by side. Which just goes to show they know how to sell beers to me. Another of the silly dessert stouts, made to try and duplicate an existing dessert. To try and do that this is made with … deep breath .. oats, lactose, banana, condensed milk, vanilla and chocolate. With all that I am surprised there is still room for the beer in there. Have been playing the Guitar Hero games again recently so went with Slayer: Reign In Blood for music. Incidentally – Fuck Raining Blood in Guitar Hero 3. Fuck it to hell.

Seven Islands: PJB Concoction (Greece: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Caramel brown rim of a head.

Nose: Massive amounts of peanut-butter. Chocolate. Oats. Strawberry. Touch of liquorice.

Body: Strawberry crème to strawberry jam. Thick, milky chocolate to chocolate liqueur. Boozy alcohol. Toffee liqueur. Blended whisky. Peanut butter.

Finish: Liquorice. Danish pastries. Strawberry crème filled bitter black chocolate sweets. Bourbon whiskey. Boozy alcohol. Toffee liqueur. Alcohol air. Bourbon biscuits. Peanut butter.

Conclusion: Holy fuck this really smells of peanut-butter. Also chocolate. It is like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of beers. And yes despite being British I have eaten Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They get everywhere.

There is also definitely the strawberry notes, not as heavy but definitely enough that this Is matching its core conceit well. Now it isn’t 100% on, being sometimes more strawberry crème than strawberry jam. Also you tend to get either the Reese’s chocolate peanut butter, or the strawberry crème filled quality chocolate sweets, rarely both at once, for most of the beer. It is only in the latter half that they really merge together, and truly match the idea of the beer, but that is nit picking.

Now, much as it does get the conceit, it isn’t all good news. The alcohol is very boozy – at its best it is like lower end bourbon, at its worst it has some of the rougher end of blended whisky feel and taste. Not 100% terrible, but it really doesn’t suit the feel of the beer.

Still, as a pastry stout it even has sweet pastry notes. Then again does PBJ have pastry? I always thought it was just peanut butter and jam in a sandwich. Is there a genuine pastry dessert PBJ? Is this I thing I never encountered?

Anyway, as an imperial stout it has some rough edges. As a PBJ beer it is fun despite the roughness. It isn’t going to win awards for brewing or style, but ya know what?

I had a laugh with it.

Background: Pastry/Dessert stouts seem to be getting a lot of shit at the moment. I guess I can kind of see why, the market is flipping flooded with them. It is kind of the NEIPA of stouts. However I kind of dig them, as long as it is an occasional treat. I think they have the advantage that they are easy to spot, unlike NEIPAs where often the first clue you get is when you pour from the can. Anyway, this is a Peanut Butter and Jelly/Jam inspired beer. By which I mean it is made with peanut butter, strawberry, Tahitian vanilla (which a quick google tells me is more fancy than normal vanilla apparently) and chocolate. Soo, yeah can see how they are hoping to get the PBJ flavours then. Seven Islands is a new brewery for me, and it is only when I googled that I found out it is from Greece, and not Canada as I first guessed. Interesting – not had much of an examine of their beer scene before. Anyway, another new beer from Independent Spirit. I went with Gogol Bordello: Trans Continental Hustle for background music while drinking. Anti immigration feeling is rinsing in the UK again, so a burst of punk energy against that was welcome.

Pipeworks: Imperial Cherry Jones Dog (USA: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Thin grey brown dash of a head.

Nose: Brown sugar. Warming booze. Chocolate smelling alcohol. Walnuts. Cashews. Liquorice. Chocolate cake. Liquorice all sorts.

Body: Black cherry. Toffee yogurt. Liquorice. Walnut cake. Vanilla fudge. Cherry pocked biscuits. Cocoa backing. Glacier cherries touch. Light chalk touch.

Finish: Coffee cake. Walnuts. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cherry picked biscuits. Cocoa. Vanilla sweetness. Alcohol air.

Conclusion: You know, for an over 10% abv imperial stout stacked with special ingredients, this is fairly restrained. Which as always, I should point out, does mean it would be considered restrained by any normal beers standards, natch, just for one this big.

The special ingredients show differing amounts of influence. There’s a creamy character, but against that a more solid chocolate cake feel and taste. It has a vanilla sweetness matched to the creaminess as one of the bigger elements, but the cherries come out as a subtle character laced throughout – sometimes even coming through more as black cherry.

These all build up over time to an impressive weight of flavour by the end. This is one of the few 10% abv and up beers where the full pint is worthwhile for appreciating the beer, rather than being better suited to a half of even third.

It is slow to build and subtle up front, with a touch of the alcohol noticeable but it is far from boozy. It doesn’t have any one element that pushes it to a classic, but has a lot that works well together – a great cocoa backing, some sweet bursts, subtle cherry and an initially high liquorice that slips out of the way to give the other elements time in the limelight.

By the end are a bit more obvious – more noticeable alcohol, bigger flavour – it isn’t as good in itself, but shows a progression that keeps the beer interesting, which offsets that. It has a good use of the lactose for sweetness and mouthfeel, nice subtle use of the cherry and so much cocoa.

A very complex and solid imperial stout, not a must have but well worth a look.

Background: Pipeworks, a new new brewery on me, but this one sounded fairly epic, so I decided to give it a try. Also, new beers and breweries from the USA are less common than they used to be – for many reasons, one of which I would guess would be the plummeting pound over the years. Anyway, this is made with cherries, cocoa nibs, lactose and vanilla. Of course. Went with Le Tigre’s self titled album for music while drinking. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

London Beer Factory: Zia Tiramisu Imperial Stout (England: Imperial Stout: 9.2% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Medium sized creamy brown head that doesn’t last long.

Nose: Cocoa. Cream. Chocolate dust. Tiramisu. Creamy coffee. Light liqueur touch and light alcohol. Chocolate cake.

Body: Chocolate liqueur. Alcohol prickle. Creamy coffee. Tiramisu. Honey. Cocoa dust. Lightly peppery.

Finish: Honey. Cream. Chocolate liqueur. Light pepper and bready notes. Milky coffee. Caramel.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a Tiramisu stout, that much is unmistakable. Yet it has honey notes. That was Flavourtown’s thing! Stop your beer gimmick infringement darn it!

Comparing the two actually makes for some interesting points though – so I think I’m going to follow that idea and see where it goes.

For all I started talking about the honey, as it was unexpected, this really has a lot of the tiramisu that it promised, so I will give it points for that.

Compared to the Imperial Porter of Flavourtown, this is thicker (as you would expect) with a creamier character, mixing cocoa, cream, coffee and, well, tiramisu. It isn’t solely dominated by the concept, but it definitely pushes it. It is generally sweeter and thicker, but doesn’t have any one flavour as strong as the honey was in Flavourtown, so despite being sweeter overall and having more alcohol, it feels more balanced.

It has a similar slight peppery contrast, but generally this rides heavier on the sweetness, so much so that it seems honeyed (despite the lack of any ingredient like that being used). However it never feels sickly.

Overall it feels like what a dessert stout should be – definitely a stout, definitely a dessert, and most importantly wears its beer characteristics on its sleeve. They are a few off notes, the alcohol is a tad present, and it could do with a touch more range, but generally it does exactly what it promises and is well worth a drink.

Background: I have a mixed relationship with Dessert Stouts. As an occasional treat I love them, something big, sweet, different and decadent. However sometimes they seem to overly dominate the beer scene, especially ones laden with many ingredients that overwhelm the base beer. Thus this one caught my eye, boldly boasting that “No tiramasus were hurt in the making of this beer”, and odd ingredients limited to oats and lactose from the look of it, so looked like a nice balance of dessert and beer, in theory at least. Anyway, first encounter with London Beer Factory here, and they have those completely pull off lids, which, despite being a good idea, always unnerve me for some reason. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, I went back to The Royal They’s self titled album for this. I should buy more of their albums.

Kees: #05 Anniversary (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 9.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Creamy coffee brown head.

Nose: Cocoa dust. Rich roasted coffee. Dry roasted peanuts. Sour cream.

Body: Creamy chocolate into bitter cocoa back. Sour cream and chives touch. Creamy coffee. Hazelnuts.

Finish: Creamy coffee cake. Bitter cocoa. Creamy coffee itself. Pecan pie. Crushed peanuts. Earthy, slightly peppery bitterness.

Conclusion: Ok, looking up at the notes I know that from them it sound like a fairly standard imperial stout fare. So, now I need to use this section to convince you that this is in no way a standard stout.

Ok, first up, best I can tell this has no extra special ingredients – no coffee beans, no cocoa, no barrel ageing, you get what I mean? This is just a beer. Fucking fantastic isn’t it that people still remember how to do that, right?

Because of the lack of odd ingredients I know that when this is so thick, creamy and smooth, that when it has not only a wonderful mouthfeel but also shows the abv with malt weight while never getting boozy of any alcohol harshness, that all of that is from the brewing and not from time in the oak to smooth it.

Similarly when it has bitter cocoa, rounded, rich coffee or when it brings pecan nutty notes – again that is all the work of malt, hops, yeast and water (ok, and oats, I’ll give you that one, and oats). Yet with the rewarding, well rounded and developed notes it brings in those categories it easily matches those “throw everything in the brew” style beers.

Yet that isn’t all that makes this beer great, there is a solid grounding beery earthiness and bitterness, which makes this very much feel like a beer and not just a collection of popular flavours. There is also a slight sour cream savoury touch which gives thickness and again gives a more recognisable beer nature against the richer notes.

Masterfully crafted, easily matches the bigger and fancier ingredient filled Imperial Stouts. I have drunk so many of these before I finally got around to doing notes on it and I have regretted none of them.

A wonder of an Imperial Stout.

Background: So, this is one of those beers I have bought many times, and keep drinking before I get around to doing notes on. As you may guess from the name it was brewed for Kees 5th anniversary. Shocking eh? Anyway an Imperial Stout, made with oats, but apart from that standard ingredients. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, over and overt again. Went with Rise Against: Appeal To Reason for music while drinking, took a while for this album to really grow on me, but definitely has now, even if Endgame is still my favourite Rise Against album.

Cloudwater: Kees: You’ve Been Spotted (England: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. A dash of grey/brown head.

Nose: Cinnamon apple. Liquorice. Very strong cinnamon in general. Nutmeg. Toffee.

Body: Cinnamon. Apple. Nutmeg. Liquorice. Sour dough. Sticky toffee pudding.

Finish: Caramel. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Apple. Liquorice. Sour dough. Riesin chocolate chews. Sticky toffee. Pudding.

Conclusion: This is very, very, very, very, very cinnamon filled. Very. So, yeah be warned that this isn’t apple pie with a touch of cinnamon. This is a cinnamon beer with a touch of apple.

It is a thick, kind of dark, sticky toffee pudding heavy take on a stout for a base -lashed with the aforementioned cinnamon. That isn’t the only spice though, there is also a very present nutmeg character. Probably others but it came across as cinnamon and nutmeg to me.

So, what we have is something thick, heavy and very spicy and … could probably do with a lot more apple. There is a light, fresh apple touch, and that freshness is very much needed to give a release from the stickiness and spice. However the apple is a very light element, a mere lick of apple sweetness. A heavier hand with the apple would really sell the apple pie concept and also stop this being such a pure spice bomb.

As it is, it is a beer that really needs sharing – early on I very much enjoyed it (and the 1/3 I had on tap at Cloudwater’s tap room was way above and beyond this – far more balanced and much easier to recommend) but as it goes on it gets one note with the spice very fast, or possibly two note as the sticky toffee thickness grips it all on your tongue. The flavour that seems a welcome burst on first sip ends up sticking around and gets very old by the end.

It needs more apple, more range, or preferably both for it to work well. Split two, or even three, ways you can have fun with this. Unless you are really into the spice then had alone it is too much. Even split between people it is a bit of fun rather than a must have.

A fun few moments, but gets old fast.

Background: I tried this at Cloudwater’s tap-house in Manchester when I was up there to watch Progress Wrestling. It was very tidy. So decided to grab a can from Independent Spirit to do notes on. Cloudwater are generally very good, if not quite up to their huge rep – though the beers at their tap room always taste just that touch better. Kees, who this is a collaboration with are also pretty awesome. Anyway this is an imperial stout made with apple, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla. They are aiming to replicate an Apple Pie as they made it on July 4th, Independence day – which as we all know is hugely celebrated in England and the Netherlands. For people who are unsure, that was sarcasm. Anyway, went with IDLES – Brutalism as backing music for this. Still bloody love IDLES.

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.

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