Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


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.

Brewdog Black Eyed King Imp Vietnamese Coffee Edition

Brewdog: Black Eyed King Imp: Vietnamese Coffee Edition (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 12.7% ABV)

Visual: Black, looks like tar on the pour. Treacle touched thin head.

Nose: Treacle. Complex coffee. Fudge. Coconut macaroons. Black cherry. Condensed cream. Bready.

Body: Thick. Shortbread. Honey. Creamy coffee. Mead. Treacle. Chewy. Bready – toasted teacakes and butter. Coconut. Black cherries.

Finish: White chocolate and vanilla. Mead. White grapes. Bready. Light yeastie. Lots of coffee.

Conclusion: This may be the beer that finally pays off the promise that Black Eyed King Imp showed but did not quite reach. Long time readers may guess what I mean by that. I mean that there are coconut notes in the main body baby! Seriously, that was the let down of standard BEKI – the nose teased coconut and the body gave me none. Damn coconut tease.

So, it has coconut. Does that mean it is the greatest thing ever? No, but it is just a notch above the already excellent standard Black Eyed King Imp. It feels even smoother. It results in an odd contrast – there is a mix of big flavours and a very chewable texture at times, but due to the smoothness can feel oddly empty at times. A minor element as 90%+ of the time it works just fine, just an odd glitch that can come from going this smooth.

The breadiness of the main body is interesting, it feels similar to what you can get with Belgian yeast and here mixed with buttered toasted crumpets in a very pleasing way. When the beer gets over smooth the new addition, the coffee, leaps in to save the day. It is a clever contribution – the bitter coffee never becomes the sole string to the beers bow, but works against what would otherwise be a weak point of the beer.

The beer leans primarily bitter, both in chocolate and coffee, but there are soft sweet notes throughout, all adding to the smooth experience. The oddest of which is a honey sweetness which is also the strongest note, though thankfully also sparingly used. It adds a few high notes then sinks back into the midst of the beer until it is needed again.

Anyway – coconut! Yep it is there, used sparingly but there. So I am a happy bunny. The beer just lacks a certain something to be an all time great, just those few empty moments, but despite that is a seriously good beer.

Background: Bias warning first, my bias relationship with Brewdog is, well, complicated. As always I try to keep my tasting notes bias free despite that. This is, at the time of making, the world’s strongest canned beer, another version of Black Eyed King Imp, this time made with Vietnamese coffee, as well as the previous cocoa nibs and barrel ageing. Drunk with a little iron Maiden to accentuate the metal theme. Ok, that is lie, listened to with Iron Maiden because Iron Maiden are awesome.

Buxton Omnipollo Yellow Belly
Buxton: Omnipollo: Yellow Belly (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Thin brown bubbled head.

Nose: Snickers bars. Chocolate ice cream. Lots of peanuts. Creamy. Very milky coffee.

Body: Creamy – condensed cream. Snickers. Big amount of peanuts. Or possible Reeses peanut cups. Bitter cocoa. Sugar dusting. Boozy feel. Thick texture. Treacle. Brown cane sugar.

Finish: Caramel. Peanuts. Bitter cocoa dust. Digestives and shortbread. Treacle. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: Damn. Think of a blended up snickers bar, but in a beer. I would say a “marathon” bar for old times sake, but, let’s face it – fighting long dead linguistic battles is not going to win me any favours here.

Anyway, this is stupid levels sweet, awesome stupid that is. There is not a huge range of notes but they are very well defined and well themed as well. Very sweet imperial stouts can become over exposed very easily, but thankfully this came when I have not had many of them for a while, so as a fresh again experience I absolutely loved this.

This is a very creamy beer as well, doesn’t hide the alcohol character either, but instead uses it as a boozy thick character. No burn, no harsh edges, but there is no mistaking this is a big beer.

I want to talk more about this beer – about its creamy texture, the sheer dominance of peanuts to peanut butter flavours over the bitter cocoa – but so much can be summed up in the few short words. Snickers bar beer. It deserves a better description than that, more detailed and florid, but that is what it is. I mean I could go more into comparing to Reeses peanut butter chocolates but I would kind of be over egging the whole thing. You get the idea, right?

So, please accept my apologies- I’m saying less than I should. Let us all just accept that this is a dangerously sweet, dangerously high abv, dangerously high quality beer. Take your time, keep off sweet imperial stouts for a while, then treat yourself to this. It is worth it.

Oh and fuck the far right and racists in general.

Background: Grabbed at Independent Spirit. First made as part of the rainbow collaboration where each team of breweries was given a colour theme to use. Ok, that bottle kind of looks like a Klan uniform, which kind of worried me until I realised that was the point, and why it was called Yellow Belly. I can’t find the original quote but to paraphrase they said this was brewed with no nuts, because the Klan didn’t have them either. I loved that so I grabbed a bottle.

I was going to disagree slightly with the bottle quote about acting anonymously as part of a group being one of the worst cowardice, by pointing to a counterpoint of protesting groups who require anonymity to prevent retribution from the authorities, until I found a fuller quote to put it in context

 
“The political situation throughout Europe is in turmoil right now, National Front, Sverigedemokraterna, British National Party, EDL, Dansk Folkeparti, Vlaams Belang, Lega Nord, Fremsrittspartiet, Sannfinländarna, Golden Dawn….the list goes on and on. From Omnipollo’s Henok Fentie; “One thing that struck us while the preliminary political polls where being presented during election night was that the actual support for the Swedish fascist party was in reality 40% higher than what people had disclosed when asked (face to face) what they voted for just after casting their ballot. At the same time the polls were more or less accurate when it came to other parties on the political scale.” What does this mean? One thing that it could mean is that although people vote extreme right they are on average not as prone to admitting to it as people voting for other parties are. Being a coward can mean many different things, but protesting anonymously at the expense of people’s freedom and right to co-exist without showing your face is one meaning that is particularly relevant at this moment in time.

 
So, with all this in mind, for our ‘Yellow’ beer, we made an 11% Peanut Butter and Biscuit Imperial Stout. Except there are no peanuts or biscuits in it. And then we dressed it in the most hateful, cowardly-anonymous costume we know of.

 
This beer, whilst attempting to make a commentary on the current political winds blowing through Europe, is above all, meant to be enjoyed as a celebration of all things new, open minded and progressive. Taste, enjoy and don’t be prejudiced.”

 
I can’t disagree with that, and will raise a glass to mocking racists everywhere.

Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend

Mikkeller: Beer Geek Breakfast Brunch Big Blend (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Massive dark coffee froth rock solid head.

Nose: Spiced grapes. Bitter chocolate. Strawberry yogurt. Cinnamon. Carrot. Bitter coffee. Vanilla beans. Bourbon. Cherries.

Body: Spicy. Paprika. Cherries. Bitter coffee and cocoa powder. Pepper. Tingling feel – spirity. Bourbon.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Smoke and embers. Peppery. Vanilla beans. Bourbon. Rye crackers. Port.

Conclusion: Not as good as you would hope. Wow, that is a good start isn’t it? yeah, Well, I guess they are right – too many cooks do indeed spoil the broth. Now, it still has a lot in its favour. For one it is complex as fuck. A very complex fuck involving pulleys, diagrams and advance planning. I may not be very good at analogies. Anyway, yes, complex – I don’t think it could be anything but that considering its roots, but it ends up pulling itself in far too many ways.

An example? Well, for one the insanely complex coffee I loved in Beer Geek Brunch Weasel is there, but a lot of the subtlety is lost – there is a lot of spicy packed in at the high end of the notes and it covers up a lot of the base character there, while there is a sparkling spirit character at the base doing the same to the more complex chocolate notes. The tingling isn’t so much raw alcohol – it actually feels quite smooth on that front, but more tingling with the barrel ageing notes. So what is at its base a very smooth beer ends up feeling slightly rough as all the other elements clash with each other.

Now the base beer isn’t everything – you have to expect something to be lost as well as gained when barrel ageing is brought in, but it is a bad sign when you lose too much. So what do you gain? Well, one of the best things is that you get some lovely sweet cherries into the mix, which complement the coffee and chocolate perfectly. Fantastic as the ninth doctor would say if he were a pisshead like me. In fact the best is generally the sweet notes added to the midst of the bitter chocolate and coffee. The worst is probably the excess spicy character which hides more than it adds.

Still a solid, frothy, well textured beer at its base, but it tries to do too much at once.

Background: Grabbed at Independent Spirit, this is a mix of (deep breath) bourbon, brandy, cherry wine, cognac, tequila and whisky aged imperial stout. Think it may also be a mix of Beer Geek Breakfast and Beer Geek Brunch Weasel as well, but that is a guess based on the name. The abv is closer to Breakfast, but the imagery on the bottle makes me think they may haves used the same coffee as Brunch Weasel. Google hasn’t helped out much, so much of this is guessing. I deliberately didn’t refresh my memory on what barrel ageing had been used before doing the tasting note so to keep psychosomatic influences to a minimum. I adore Beer Geek Brunch Weasel, so have been grabbing many variants over the years. Drunk whilst listening to more ocremix stuff.

Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout 2015

Stone Farking Wheaton: W00tstout 2015 (USA: Imperial Stout: 13% ABV)

Visual: Black. Grey dash for a head with brown bubbles at the edges.

Nose: Boozy. Coconut macaroons and pecan pie. Black cherry. Milk chocolate. Vinous red wine. Marshmallow. Bready notes.

Body: Bitter chocolate. Nougat. Vanilla toffee. Cherries. A quite clean high end. Light pepper. coconut. Light pecan. Crumpets. Forthy feel.

Finish: Quality bitter chocolate. Gin or perhaps just juniper. Vodka touch. Rye bread. Light pepper. Vanilla toffee. Pecan pie. Nougat. Crumpets and toasted teacakes. Marshmallows.

Conclusion: Hmm, time to try and work out – is this good, great, or one of the all time greatest? Ok, no bones about it, this is , at the bare minimum, good. The only question is how good?

I wasn’t expecting to open up this enthusiastically, taken from my previous year’s experiences this was solid but didn’t stand out amongst the packed Imperial Stout crowd. It did catch my attention enough to grab this bottle, and I am glad that I did. Now this, part bourbon aged, third edition, this is far above last year’s.

Good opening hints at what is to come with the nose – coconut notes, I always love coconut notes. Entering the main body the bitter chocolate which was stereotypically over emphasised in last years beer is now matched with lots of nougat and a toasted teacake set of notes which gives a sweet, yet frothy and substantial body.

Cool it can feel slightly overly clean- losing the high and low end of the notes, but as it warms more chocolate, toffee, pecan pie and such, come out. Like this it has such a lovely chewy texture, yet not too thick – it is like a mouthful of marshmallows in feel – they resist if you push down, but still crumples easily.

Because of the above elements it manages to have its own identity amongst imperial Stouts. Yes it calls to the bitter chocolate, the bourbon aging ,the coconut touched, and many other mainstays of imperial stouts – and it does take hints from each of these, but it constructs its own interpretation with the texture and with the more unusual added notes.

So, in the end, yes this elevates itself to the quality of high end beers, but also manages to be atypical, and that makes is something special. So it is beyond just good. So, is it great or one of the all time greats?

For now I will say it is part of the all time greats – the texture is very unusual, probably this is a result of the wheat and rye into the mix. The flavour is complex and the bourbon ageing makes it smooth indeed. So, yeah, this is one of the all time great imperial stouts.

Just remember, while I am saying that, this is 13% and a good sized bottle, so I may be a tad merry as I write that, but even with that said …. Damn this is good.

Background: I’d tried last year’s edition of this, mainly because WILL WHEATON! You know, that kid everyone hated in Star Trek the Next Generation, but is now grown up and awesome. Also made with Drew Cutis from Fark.com. Anyway last year I found good, but not exceptional, however this years edition is made with 25% last year’s edition that has been aged in Bourbon barrels, which sounded like it may add just what the beer needed, so I grabbed a bottle. It is also made with wheat, rye, cocoa and pecan. Because of course. I have to admit wheat in an imperial stout did intrigue me. This beer is best know for being one of the answers to “What will always get you laid” in the Cards against humanity episode of Tabletop. Drunk whille listening to some Svalbard, because big music is needed for a big beer.

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