Tag Archive: Imperial Stout

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.

Mikkeller Crooked Moon Tattoo Stockholm Stout

Mikkeller: Crooked Moon Tattoo Stockholm Stout (Denmark: Imperial Stout: 8% ABV)

Visual: Black. Large creamy brown froth.

Nose: Crushed peanuts. Mashed figs and raisins. Malt chocolate drink. Black olives.

Body: Black olives. Bitter. Cloying. Sour dough and cream cheese. Very bitter black chocolate and bitter black coffee.

Finish: Bitter coffee. Brown bread and black olives.

Conclusion: Well, I often muse, (or perhaps mildly complain is more accurate) about the fact that a lot of recent imperial stouts feel like they are trying to be similar to what is popular at the time rather than carving their own identity. This is a beer that does not suffer from that. This is a beer that is odd. This is a beer that is very distinctive, not quite unique, but definitely taken the less walked road.

Now, with figs in this I was expecting this to lean towards the sweeter end of the stout scale. I was wrong. Damn wrong. This is bitter. bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Without contrasting sweetness when cool I actually find this more punishing that a lot of high alpha acid IPAs.

Bitter chocolate and coffee may not sound that unusual, in fact it may sound like every other Imperial Stout out there – however while chocolate and coffee may not be unusual the level of intensity is. What makes this odd is a cloying kind of feel and big black olives flavour – it makes it feel like the beer equivalent of that bread, oil and olives starter you get in some Italian restaurants. But in a stout. Go on, tell me that is a common thing. No, right? An odd one this. I have run into olive notes before, but never so intensely.

The actual expected odd element – the figs – well that only comes out when the beer warms, and not even that heavily then. However, boy is it needed. Without it the beer is too intense on the single, bitter, end of the scale. With it, it is still punishing but now more manageable.

It still feels a bit too lob sided for me, a bit over cloying and heavily olive dominated – but with the slight mashed fig sweetness I can respect it, if not overly enjoy it. Not one for me, but it is well made and I think it will be for many of you. If my notes have not put you off and you want something different then you may want to check it out.

Background: Made with figs, which is the main reason I grabbed it. That and the fact Mikkeller tend to be awesome with Imperial Stouts. Crooked tattoo look to be a bunch of guys who run a tattoo convention and they asked Mikkeller to make this beer for them for that. Bought from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. Drunk while listening to a bit of Within Temptation, which seemed to suit the mood for this.

Brewdog Hinterland

Brewdog: Hinterland (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 9% ABV)

Visual: Black – pours like chocolate liqueur, has a short lasting brown bubbled head.

Nose: Bitter cocoa. Crushed chocolate bourbon biscuits. Light roasted character.

Body: Bitter chocolate and cocoa dust. Dry roasted nuts and hazelnuts. Chocolate cake. Black cherry hint. Liquorice hint. Chocolate icing. Light sugar cane. Cream.

Finish: Vanilla. Cocoa. Bitter chocolate cake. Light sugar dusting.

Conclusion: This is one of those beers that would have blown my mind early on in my beer drinking life, but with all the water under the beer bridge I have become slightly blasé to.

Basically, this is chocolate. Mainly bitter, sometimes creamy, sometimes cake like and sometimes icing like, but in general – chocolate. That is the strength and the weakness. Strength as well, about five years back this level of layered, varied chocolate would have put me in the mind of a chocolate equivalent of what Beer Geek Brunch Weasel does for coffee – layered and lovely.

Thing is, these days it seems kind of one note – a fricking impressive note, but one note. I have now tried other beers have done the wonder of many layered chocolate and managed to add other elements to match and oppose it. I promise I’m not just being picky as I recently disagreed with Brewdog on some stuff – I still genuinely like a lot of their beers and what they do. This is nice, impressive even – but doesn’t stand out as an exceptional Imperial Stout amongst Brewdog’s range, let alone the insane range of high quality Imperial Stouts in the world.

Still, thickness wise it has a good texture. Chocolate wise it has a good range; Creamy, rich, bitter, heavy and tasty. It is just not as good as some others. You won’t be let down though if you want a chocolate Imperial Stout – I am just spoiled.

Needs something none chocolate added to it to make it special, but still pretty good.

Background: An imperial oatmeal milk stout made with cocoa and vanilla pods. Again Brewdog are making me pack in the extra words to describe their beers This thing has an awesome pretty label, which is cool – The photo doesn’t really show it off. With it being so dark I either got it looking like a black bottle, or with a level of flash back depending on the setting. An expert photographer I am not. Bias warning, despite my recent disagreements with Brewdog, I still benefit financially from them doing well as a minor shareholder. Despite that I still try to be as unbiased as possible. This was drunk after blowing yet another promising Binding of Isaac The Lost run. Grrr. Drunk while listening to the great fun Television Villain! Check them out. Bias warning – a friends band.

Dark Horse Plead The 5th Imperial Stout

Dark Horse: Plead The 5th Imperial Stout (USA: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Half inch of creamy coffee froth for a head.

Nose: Big. Milky coffee. Hazelnuts. Bitter cocoa. Dry roasted peanuts. Chocolate cake. Tobacco. Sour dough and fresh baguettes.

Body: Thick and bitter. Smoke. Bitter chocolate. Tobacco. Coffee cake. Roasted. Belgian chocolate. Toffee.

Finish: Dry. Bitter chocolate. Smoke. Tobacco. Light gin air. Doughnuts. Toffee.

Conclusion: I am, personally, of the mind that far too many imperial stouts are trying too hard to copy the pack leaders these days, ending up with a lot of beers than end up very similar. Often also with the copies not being quite as good as what they are trying to imitate.

This, therefore, makes me happy. While it has a lot of bitter cocoa and bitter coffee, that matches the current imperial stout trend, it is a very chewable beer, and isn’t afraid to be a bit rough and different.

As well as the thick, chewy, texture, this also manifests itself as having a light tobacco and smoke character throughout. You can feel a wish to masticate upon the imagined chewing tobacco within the beer, and that gives the beer a weight even more so than its respectable 11% abv.

Despite the strength, it feels very manageable – the aroma keep this bakery fresh filled baguette ploughman’s kind of character to it, which then tends in the finish towards a doughnut thickness. Not so much as flavours than as a solid base character that means that the heavy tobacco, coffee and chocolate have something to stand out against.

The tobacco actually makes me think of the imperial stout equivalent of Hair Of The Dog Adams – a lovely beer which had similar notes at various points in its ageing life. That is a hell of a beer to be compared to and this one holds up nicely.

So, high quality, different and big. Definitely earns its place as an Imperial Stout amongst the greats of this world.

Background: Not too much to say on this one, I have no idea what the image on the front of the bottle is supposed to be. Felt like a big imperial stout this night, looked in the cupboard, had several, drank this one. Drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. Lovely relaxing yet big tunes.

De Molen Hel and Verdoemenis Bruiladdich

De Molen: Hel en Verdoemenis – Bruichladdich Barrel Aged (Netherlands: Imperial Stout: 12% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. No head. Viscous sheen.

Nose: Brown bread. Smoked bacon. Salt touch. Nougat. Sour black cherries. Sour cider notes.

Body: Smooth. Salt and charring. Bitter cocoa and chocolate liquore. Medicinal touch. Milky chocolate. Sherry trifle.

Finish: Salt. Toasted marshmallows. Medicinal touch. Malt chocolate and brown bread. Light peanuts. Charred oak. Sherry trifle. Apples.

Conclusion: After last year’s Octomore Aged beer I was raring at the bit to try this years barrel aged beer from De Molen. Seriously, the Octomore Aged beer was a legend.

This. Well this is not a legend, but it is a very interesting beer in itself. It seems to be a mix of three main strands. The first strand is a deep bitter and charred stout; Bitter chocolate is the order of the day – lots of slow and heavy set flavour. It is a brutal backdrop that the more medicinal Islay character actually adds to rather than subsumes. Speaking of that second strand, this is actually more salted and medicinal than I expected from the lighter Bruichladdich distillery. It is actually done a bit too harsh – leading for an overly charred and charcoal beer that is what lasts out into the finish.

What saves it, to a degree, is the third strand. There is a soft nougat and sherry trifle sweetness that rises up from underneath the darker notes. This, if just against the chocolate of the first strand, would be spot on, and as the beer warms it does get much closer to this ideal. The body thickens and the charring level drops. Still a tad rough edged, but much better than at first.

The barrel ageing for this one doesn’t seem quite to work, but doesn’t manage to ruin what is a solid beer. Ok, and heavy duty, but not special.

Background: I didn’t have my tasting note kit last year, so I was intrigued to see what De Molen had for us at the Great British Beer Fest this year. This didn’t sound as instantly awesome as the Octomore, but I had my tasting note book this time so decided to give it a go. De Molen have been solid as hell so far, and as the lighter end of Islay I imagined Bruichladdich would let the base beer open up a bit. My friend Adam who also tried it was probably more disappointed with the beer than I was, so take that as a counter point.

Brewdog Dog D

Brewdog: Dog D (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 16.1% ABV)

Visual: Black and still. Fizzing up brown head. A viscous sheen left on the glass. After a few moments the head becomes just a chocolate brown froth at the rim of the glass.

Nose: Rye. Thick caramel. Habanero chilli. Black cherry. Bitter chocolate. Riesen chocolate chew. Chilli seeds. Nougat.

Body: Smooth. Bitter cocoa. Light chilli tingle. Coconut. Chocolate liqueur. Caramel. Grapes. Black cherry. Nougat. Choc orange. Cadbury’s creme egg centres.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Coconut. Black cherry. Chocolate chews. Bitter coffee with a touch of milk. Light greenery.

Conclusion: 8 years, 4 dog *s. one AB04, and – for me at least – they seem to have finally hit the balance just right for this beer. AB04 was lovely but sweet as hell – Dog A-C were more towards the Speedway Stout end of the spectrum, a tad too heavy on the bitter chocolate and coffee while still being a very good imperial stout. All good beers, but the Imperial Stout category is a hard fought one.

Here in this beer the bitter chocolate and coffee base is still there, but the barrel ageing has brought back a big chunk of the sweetness, which allows it to merge and bring out a lot of the classic dark fruit flavours – while not letting either side get too dominant.

The chilli does take a back seat because of this, and let’s face it, it was never the strongest element in this beer. Now it is but a soft tingle and a bit of greenery notes but not much more. The heat was never really a strong point. For me generally that is fine, as I find a little chilli goes a long way, though even I think this could handle a touch more.

As you get used to the beer so many elements rise up out of the depths – a nougat thickness, touches of my beloved coconut – what initially seems a delicious but comparatively simple beer grows in stature until it goes head to head with the greats.

As a side note, I wonder what they used to age this. Smart money would guess some kind of lighter end of the scale Scottish whisky, however from the flavours I could swear they used bourbon. There is a huge heap of those toffee and vanilla notes brought out that associate with that ageing. Though, as I say, smart money is on Scottish Whisky – with Brewdog being in Scotland it would seem the obvious pick.

Overall – oh come on, you’ve guessed it by this point – it is excellent. Boozy enough for my tastes, but smooth enough for those who hate tasting the abv, bitter enough to give character, but sweet enough to be so easy to drink. This beer finally see one of the Dog *s as one of the best in the style.

Background: The … erm, 8th anniversary imperial stout from Brewdog. Initially Based on AB 04, it has shifted a bit over the years. Made with cocoa, coffee and chillies, this version has added to that some barrel ageing as well. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. Drunk while listening to B Dolan’s Kill The Wolf. Pretty solid album.

Siren Evil Twin Even More Jesus VIII

Siren: Evil Twin: Even More Jesus VIII (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Inch of creamy brown froth.

Nose: Bitter chocolate dust and cocoa powder. Red grapes.

Body: Smooth. Bitter chocolate powder. Frothy. Vanilla. Toffee and fudge. Muscatel grapes. Slight spice. Brown sugar. Cinder toffee. Nougat.

Finish: Liquorice. Frothy hot chocolate. Brown sugar. Big bitter chocolate. Spicy grapes.

Conclusion: Even more “Even More Jesus“. Yep, I’ve managed to get around the fact I have already done tasting notes for Even More Jesus by taking advantage of the fact that Siren have done a British version. Ha. Rules lawyering. I win.

So, again we have the aroma – one that doesn’t really give anything to get excited about – fairly standard chocolate notes. The body though…. Oh yes the body is exciting. Slightly less viscous than the original. I think. It has been a while. Still a big frothy beast of a beer.

A different frothy beast though – the liquorice is evident here, while I never noticed it in the original. Also it seems to tend more to each of the extremes – the chocolate is more bitter, the spice is more warming, the vinous notes are more grape like and the sweetness is full on brown sugar. It is less integrated than the original, more individual flavours that stand out.

While this is still lovely I do prefer the original – it is more balanced, more integrated – but this is still epic deliciousness. It is sweet as hell in the individual notes but that bitter chocolate backbone swamps around them, leaving the sweet notes as island poking out from within.

Lovely, not the best, but lovely. A very impressive take on a a legend of a beer.

Background: This beer may look a tad familiar. That is because it a take on the Evil Twin Beer “Even More Jesus”, and is made in collaboration with Evil Twin themselves. An imperial stout made with liquorice and muscovado sugar. I was a huge fan of the original beer, so when I saw the limited bottle release in Independent Spirit I grabbed it.

Widl Beer Co Wineybeest

Wild Beer Co: Wineybeest (England: Imperial Stout: 11% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Brown bubbles at the edge and a dust of a head over the main body.

Nose: Intense red wine. Acidic almost vinegar touch early on. Sharp apples. Liquorice.

Body: Rich red wine, backed by sour wine notes. Sour red grapes. White chocolate froth and bitter chocolate cake back. Cheese boards.

Finish: Milky chocolate. Red grapes. Bitter chocolate. Spicy – mixed spice. Liquorice. Blackberry.

Conclusion: Am I doing Pinot Nor week or something? Or is it my birthday and no-one told me? Either way I am Pinot spoiled at the moment I tell you. Oddly this thick imperial stout seemed initially to find it harder to stand up to the wine influence than the Blackjack Native Sun Dopplebock did.

The nose, even the first sips, are massively wine dominated. Initially rich and fruity, then backed up by sour and spicy notes. All wine, all the time though. Very nice, but as long time readers (both of you) will know I get disappointed when you completely lose the base beer to the barrel ageing. It just seems to lose some of the potential that the merging of two great things holds.

Thankfully here the beer fights back, slowly but inevitably. Bitter chocolate cake and complex mature cheeseboards start revealing themselves, pushing up strong enough to be noticed past the rich wine. At a rough comparison, only about thirty percent of the character of Wildebeest shows itself, but that adds heavy stodgy flavours to this wine force. It is mainly a matter of holding the beer character – top and tail is wine, but the centre is that bitter crumbly chocolate cake.

It may not be as complexly and richly balanced as Whiskebeest, but it is far more its own thing – two strong flavours pulling against each other – not clashing, just sloshing back and forwards.

The wine is too dominant to call it a master piece, but the strength of flavour is too great to call it any less than fantastic. Unbalanced, rich and joyous wine explosion.

Background: This is a Pinot Noir barrel aged version of wildebeest. I believe in recent notes I have mentioned my lack of wine knowledge, and of the fact that despite that I have enjoyed a couple of pinot noirs. So of course I grabbed this from Independent Spirit. There were only 500 bottles of this made, and one less exists now. The wax didn’t get too much in the way of opening the bottle for once. Which was nice.

Brewdog Paradox Compass Box

Brewdog: Paradox: Compass Box (Scotland: Imperial Stout: 15% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Froths up brown, but soon descends to a brown dash over the body.

Nose: Thick toffee. Boozy caramel and salted caramel. Coconut. Fresh custard doughnuts. Shaken bag of liquorice allsorts.

Body: Smooth bitter chocolate. Toasted teacakes. Cadburys’ fudge fingers. Coffee. Boozy caramel. Bourbon. Froths up easily.

Finish: Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Touch of Turkish delight. Toasted teacakes and butter.

Conclusion: Should I praise a beer for having an awesome aroma, or get shirty as it fronts what the body can’t back up? I guess it depends on how my day has gone so far. So, not too bad today. You get the cheery version of the pretentious beer blogger today!

The aroma is thick and boozy, full on caramel in a salted style, backed by my favourite ever Imperial Stout note – coconut! If I could have a beer that was the very essence of its aroma, then I want this beer!

Oddly, despite my comments, the body provides much of the same – so why did I give it shit earlier on? Probably the lack of coconut in the body. Seriously I love coconut notes in my imperial stouts. It’s my thing. There is also a lovely toasted tea cake character, and it still pushes the sweet notes large. Normally I find overly sweet beers a tad one note, but here the oak seems to have done something a tad unusual. Instead of the expected whisky notes, it seems slightly closer to sour bourbon – a subtle hint, but combined with the toasted tea cake it balances the sweetness very well. Finally the finish emphasises more bitter notes, underlying the whole experience.

So, yeah, my disagreement with the body basically comes down to the lack of coconut. You can’t promise me coconut and then snatch it away!

So how is it? Well, despite the well done offset notes it still is very heavily on the sweet side. Also it lacks coconut and I hold grudges. It is however a very good imperial stout. The compass box doesn’t seem to have brought quite the same complexity here that they do in their blended malt whiskies – but I’m not complaining at what they did bring.

While I am spoiled in high quality barrel aged imperial stouts, insanely spoiled, I still very much enjoyed this. Not so stand out to be one of the top in the world, but it has no real flaws to call out. Ok no flaws that aren’t coconut related.

Background: Yet another of Brewdog’s whisky aged imperial stouts. I’m not quite sure how this one works. Compass Box do blended malts – so take malt from many different barrels and mix them together. How does that work with barrel aged beer? Do they age some in each different cask? Or is there a final cask the whisky is married in and is this used for ageing? I am unsure. Anyway, as always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beer.


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