Tag Archive: Imperial Stout


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.

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.

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