Tag Archive: Panda Brew

Panda Brew: Mocking Imperial Stout (China: Imperial Stout: 10% ABV)

Visual: Black. Slightly fizzy. Loose bubbled large brown head that leaves a sud rim.

Nose: Dry coffee. Roasted nuts. Liquorice – predominantly dry black liquorice bits.

Body: Viscous. Dry black liquorice. Vanilla. Roasted nuts. Bitter chocolate. Caramel as it warms.

Finish: Black liquorice. Bitter roasted nuts. Sour dough and cloying sour cream. Gains bitter hop character over time. Bitter cocoa.

Conclusion: Ok, I’ve had a few liquorice infused imperial porters, and I’ve run into some Imperial Stouts with a level of liquorice influence – but this is the first IS I’ve had with this much liquorice kick.

It is a very dry delivered beer, full of roasted nut character, and yes, the dry liquorice mentioned – it doesn’t give an inch to to the usual more sweet stylings of the imperial stout style. Instead this goes for a surprisingly heavy bitterness route – pushing out bitter, roasted hop character that builds to quite the intense and long lasting finish.

Warmth gives some, minor, concessions to the expected sweet style. You get mild caramel and vanilla, and a real bitter, but recognisable cocoa, chocolate backing. It is still a harsh flavoured beer, but is closer to expectations in style. Just. It is cloying, bitter, roasted and liquorice led. Technically I should hate it. I do like liquorice, in moderation, but not massively so in beer, and not to the levels used here.

However, with all that said, it is well made. Viscous, weighty with heavy mouthfeel that gives good grip to the flavour but doesn’t make the bitterness too clingy. Not world class, but another well made beer found on this trip. It you want more liquorice in a well made stout – well, here it is. It is well made, and well textured, but pushes flavours in a way that isn’t really aimed at me. So, good, but not one for me. Your mileage may vary.

Background: This was a bit of an accidental find – I was looking for the Beer Nest in Chengdu when I found that they had another Panda Brew brewpub here. Since Panda Brew had been pretty good quality, and a good guide when I had got lost before I decided to drop in and try one of their beers. This “ Mocking Imperial Stout” Looked like one of their special releases with the fancy bottle, and since I hadn’t done an imperial stout yet this trip I decided to give it a go. Anyway, this was a simple pull off cap to open, and was drunk from an absolutely tiny glass that came with it. The bottle lists this as a pretty high for a stout 66 IBU.


Panda Brew: 3B Brown Bear Beer Brown Ale (China: Brown Ale: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Ruddy red brown. Large yellow brown head.

Nose: Dry and nutty. Sweet pecan pie. Malt chocolate.

Body: Nutty with slight nut oils. Sweet pecan pie. Malt chocolate.

Body: Nut oils. Moderate robust bitterness. Walnuts. Pecan pie and brown sugar.

Conclusion: The shout of “boring brown beer” Is a common refrain (and also 3Bs, akin to this beer’s name), however, while this beer does not have the widest range, I would be very hard pressed to call it a boring beer.

This is a dry delivered, nut dominated ale that keeps the balance between the dry crushed nuts style – akin to crushed dry roasted peanuts in a way – and the sweet pecan style counterpoints. The drier notes match the feel of the base well, and uses the sweeter notes as high points to keep it from getting leaden. It feels like it is aiming for a sessionable Brown ale, admittedly at slighter thicker body, and of course higher abv that that would suggest. The dryness makes it a very sippable beer early on, and warmth brings out a touch of brown sugar sweetness to accentuate the pecan styled notes.

It doesn’t rate as a must have beer – almost all the complexity is in the range of nuttiness it has, and it deals in only slight malt chocolate notes rounding it out – however due to its simple goals it manages to polish them well, and actually holds up well against western attempts to reinvent the brown ale as a craft beer. It doesn’t get lost in uber hopping, or trying to make the style radically different from its base, just does the basic idea with a more nutty and and a bit drier.

There is legs left in this oft overlooked style, and it seems China, or at least Panda Brew have seen that. Needs a bit more work to make a must have beer, but this seems a nice route to go.

Background: First beer notes from China holiday! This one, actually a beer drunk before I had even checked in. I had left my bags at the hotel, until I could check in that afternoon, then wandered Beijing. Then got lost. On a straight road. No seriously. I had entered a Hyper-mart for a quick snack, then didn’t realise I had wandered out of a different exit on a street at a right angle to the one I had come in on. Oops. Anyway, well and truly lost I was saved when I came across Panda brew brewpub. I had been planning to hit them later, so had printed out a map showing how to get to them from the hotel, so could follow that backwards. How lucky! Anyway, a Panda themed brewpub, with very friendly staff who had some English language knowledge which was very helpful for me. I decided to go for their Brown ale – it is an oft overlooked style by the craft scene, so thought it would be an interesting pick.

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