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.