imperial-stout

2

Prairie “Pirate Bomb”

98 A+


“Pirate Bomb” is a limited-release Imperial Stout aged in rum casks. This is the barrel version of the notorious “Bomb!” we all know and love, using the same ingredients of coffee, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and chili peppers. Aromas release a wonderful blend of espresso, loads of cocoa powder, roasted nuts, molasses, rum, grilled stone fruit, and wood smoke.


The palate follows the nose, beginning with an onslaught of roasted malts that unleash a thick body of dark chocolate and cocoa. Sweetness swells up as maple syrup and raw cane sugar. Balanced bitterness follows with an authentic taste of fresh espresso. The barrel brings out complexities of coconut, charred oak, and vanilla to amplify the natural flavor of the vanilla beans. Rich layers of chocolate continue to resonate while capsaicin settles onto the aftertaste in a spicy bite, merging with the heat of the alcohol to create a very effective cover from the 14% ABV. To add to that, any alcoholic off-flavors which might exist are exchanged for delicious rum. Mouthfeel runs creamy with light carbonation over a full, chewy body.


Just when thought Bomb was great, Pirate Bomb comes along and blows it out of the water. This is a full-flavored, decadent dessert beer where malts completely dominate. Sweetness runs parallel to bitterness in a supremely satisfying ratio. I’m really not sure how could get much better than this! Each ingredient comes through in a most authentic form, all ordered in a desirable sequence. I would consider it the zenith of the Imperial Stout. Sure, this is the most expensive four-pack I’ve ever purchased, but I believe its worth the cost of $9 dollars a bottle, more so than Bomb or Bible Belt. Seek this out. I highly recommend it!


$35.99/4-pack

14.0%

65 IBU

Krebs, Oklahoma

2

Arbor Breakfast Stout and Oyster Stout

Bristol’s Arbor are one of the wealth of new breweries that have sprung up around England in the last decade or so. Equally happy brewing traditional English styles as they are brewing American craft beer styles (or English styles with an American craft inspired twist), their output is mostly cask supported by kegs and bottles here and there. I have two of their brews to share with you awesome and sexyfull Tumblroo’s this fine, breezy, and sun dappled evening, and both are stouts. No need to thank me, I can feel the adoration radiation from my laptop screen. 

First up, Arbor Breakfast Stout, 7.4% abv. Based on an imperial stout, it’s loaded with oats, has a small amount of smoked malt and speciality German grains, and has locally roasted Brazilian Santos coffee beans and organic cacao nibs added to the boil. This particular beer also has a little drool added after the pour… *ahem

The burned caramel coloured head hides a hypnotising, void like darkness. Aromas of intense espresso and burned malts invade my nose holes and do terrible, unspeakable things to the roots of my braintree. I may have begun dancing. I brave the drool drizzled head and take a glug, it seems the nasal abuse was but the first stage in a pincer movement. Minions sculpted from dark roast coffee, cocoa, caramel, fig, and licorice are now swinging from my braintree’s branches, hootin’ an’ hollerin’ and waving burning torches. My dancing has now reached fever pitch, my feet whirligigging round the room full-on Northern Soul style. My surrender is unconditional to this full, rich, roasty, smooth as you like beer with a dry, bitter finish. Jeepers creepers, this is good.

Once I’ve recovered it’s time to attempt the next one, Arbor Oyster Stout, 4.6% abv. Back in the olden days of merry ol’ England, when vision worked in black and white and men dueled with their razor sharp waxed moustaches for the right to wear the tallest top hat, stout was consumed by the gallon in pubs across the land. Oysters were a favoured snack at these watering holes, and their briny goodness was a perfect pairing with the roasty black liquid. Some point later on a bonafide genius decided to put actual oysters in the brew itself, they were rewarded with a lovely new bright red bicycle (colour vision had been invented by now) by powers unknown and a sub-style was born. After falling out of favour in the latter part of the last century the oyster stout is back, and Arbour chuck loads of the delicious little things into the boil of their oatmeal stout. Just to watch them die. Or maybe ‘cause they they taste good. Nine different grains and Fuggles hops also feature, sounds good.

The pour is black, the head latte, and this time drool free. Masses of cocoa and heavily roasted malty aromas waft up from my weirdly jug like glass. A sip. Suddenly I’m a deep sea diver from times past sitting in my open bottom diving bell. Before a dive I like to relax with a nice stout, most of us daring divers do, dontcha know. The smooth, roasty ale’s chocolate and coffee flavours are there as you’d expect, but the lightless salt water below infuses the senses with a brininess that blends into the stouts initial taste. The roast soon begins to overpower this and is joined by slightly spicy, earthy notes before the moderately bitter finish brings the brine back. Damn good stuff.

I gotta say, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these West Country stouts. The Oyster Stout is a really good example of the style, slightly briny at the beginning and end, luscious, roasty stout goodness throughout. It is, however, the Breakfast Stout that’s won my heart. Intense, rich, decadent, bittersweet, and downright delicious. Now if you’ll excuse me, my dancin’ shoes are callin. Cheers!

5

This stout game is strong son! Salted Belgian Chocolate from New Belgians Lips Of Faith series, Legion Russian Imperial stout from Community, Stone’s Coffee Milk Stout, Firestone Walker’s Velvet Merlin and I grabbed a glass of French Quarter Temptress from Lakewood Brewing. Stout coma!

2

Left Hand “Wake Up Dead (Nitro)”

91 A-


Wake Up Dead (Nitro) is a winter seasonal Imperial Stout, which has been nitrogenated. Aromas release a muted mix of chocolate, cold coffee, oatmeal cookie, and dark fruity undertones of plum.


The palate begins in bittersweet chocolate, followed by a robust sweetness holding flavors of burnt caramel and praline fudge. Dark fruits make an early appearance with grape and plum. The body flattens out in the middle, reminiscent of a vanilla milkshake with nutty details like almond butter. As the depth of roast increases, black coffee comes to mind, leading to a soft climax that washes into a grainy touch of oatmeal. That caramel sweetness continues to hold firm on the underbelly, dipping into a touch of maple syrup. Alcohol adds to the fruity effect with an impression of rum-soaked dark fruits. Finer complexities resemble vanilla, licorice, and light spice. Hops eventually touch down with gentle bitterness settling on the aftertaste, further emphasizing the roast. Mouthfeel is ultra-silky with a pillowy, marshmallow softness that leaves a touch of warmth behind.


I just had to try this, because I’ve never seen a nitro Double Stout off-tap. Overall, I really love the creamy texture brought on by the nitrogen…the way it softens the edges, and mellows out the slickness typically associated with high alcohol. In stylistic terms, it stands on its own as a pretty decent Impy Stout. I must admit, I’m not really a fan of Left Hand, so I’m probably a little biased, but this beer has helped improve my perception of the brewery. If you’re a fan of this style, I think you would probably appreciate the traditional flavor in the context of nitrogen. I recommend it.


Malts: Pale 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Black Barley, Flaked Oats

Hops: Magnum, US Goldings


$10.16 / 4-pack

10.2%

45 IBU

Longmont, Colorado

2

Oskar Blues “Ten Fidy”

95 A


Ten Fidy (named after its 10.5%) is a seasonal Imperial Stout only released in September. It’s probably my favorite offering from Oskar Blues. Aromas are heavy with berry notes (blackberry), sweet brown sugar, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso.


The palate begins with a quick establishment of malty sweetness flavored like brown sugar and molasses. Bittersweet chocolate chips overshadow dark fruity accents such as cherry and plum. Malts continue to build over what appears to be shy bitterness, but in reality, a full-blown 98 IBU’s are discreetly concealed. Flavors of over-roasted coffee, fudge, and chocolate cake soon develop from the rear. Minor hints of grapefruit zest mark the climax, followed by a touch of anise, earth tones, and charred barley fading out. Mouthfeel is nearly full-bodied with a super smooth/viscous texture that comes across wet at first, then somewhat dry nearing the end. Carbonation is sort of flat and dull, but it works.


I suppose this is what I would call a dessert beer, because of the high-hitting sweetness, and suggestions of chocolate cake. The hefty alcohol actually ends up quite well-integrated, so instead of being suppressed, they’ve found a way to make the best of its influence. I believe this is why it’s been described as a ‘Russian’ imperial stout. I realize some may prefer a more hefty balance from the hops, but I really do love a good malt-forward double. This is great, go get it. I recommend it!


Known Malts: Two-row, chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats


10.5%

98 IBU

Longmont, Colorado (or Brevard, NC)

2

Dogfish Head, Miles Davies’ Bitches Brew 9.0% abv

This here inventive beer, a blend of imperial stout and tej (Ethiopian honey wine bittered with gesho. No hops y'see) was originally brewed by Delaware’s Dogfish Head to honour the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ legendary perspective shifter. Cheers once again to the awesome lesseifer and lisaseifer for sending me this, it more than lived up to my stupidly high expectations!

‘Tis a smooth and silky brew and lighter than a typical impy. Medium sweet at first, intense flavours erupt and develop in my salivating face hole. There’s dark roast coffee, toasted cacao nibs, chopped mixed nuts, vanilla, and luxurious dark chocolate up front, whispy smoke trails and an old pirate treasure chest follow, and a nicely earthy bitterness creeps in at the end.

I really did enjoy this, a surprisingly easy to drink brew considering the boldness and depth of flavour. If I’d created something as underwear moisteningly awesome as Bitches Brew (rather than just generally being underwear moisteningly awesome) I’d be tickled pink and whatever other colour you like by this tribute. A triumph, I say. Cheers!

Review: Deschutes The Abyss (2007 Bottle)

I have been wanting to try this beer for a while, so when I was given the opportunity to try a 2007 bottle of the super hyped stout, I couldn’t have been more excited. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, The Abyss is an Imperial Stout, a third of which is aged in French Oak and Bourbon barrels. It’s one of the highest rated beers on ratebeer and beeradvocate, and isn’t easy to find, especially if you live in the midwest like me. 

So how does the five year aged version of it taste? Pretty damn thick, oily, and delicious. After so many years the bourbon has kind of fallen out of this guy, with the charred oak flavors playing a much larger role. There’s also lots of espresso, sticky molasses, very dark chocolate, and vanilla probably from the oak. It’s more bitter then many bourbon barrel aged stouts, but in a really flavorful way. Definitely one of the best stouts out there. 

Niko (FF) Score = 9.75/10

2

Founders “Breakfast Stout”

95 A


Breakfast Stout is a seasonal Imperial Stout. Release starts in September, then departs on new year’s day. This is brewed with a delicious blend of oats, imported chocolate, Sumatra and Kona coffee beans. Aromas are dominated an authentic display of coffee, underscored by dark chocolate, cocoa powder, charred barley, and a faint bitter note.


The palate starts with a mouth full of malts, beginning with robust flavors of dark chocolate that flow into a drier body of cocoa powder. A sweet kiss of caramel rises up from the middle. Hops stir up an abrupt bitterness, which complement the roasted concept without bringing many distracting flavors afterward. Coffee takes control of the back-end with some interesting, genuine bean character. At this point, details of oatmeal and other cereal grains create a creamy finish, where devil’s food comes to mind. The mouthfeel brings a smooth, well-rounded body carrying supportive carbonation. Chewy, but not too thick.


This is clearly a coffee-driven Stout. I believe its success is rooted in the marriage of bitter and sweet components, all wrapped up in a balanced package…delicious simplicity with just enough complexity. Bold malt flavors harmonize with dull hop bitterness to rule over the meek sweetness. ABV comes in at a respectable rate, without reaching the 9% range where the alcohol starts to negatively impact the palate. I seriously advise you drink this lukewarm in order to appreciate its full potential. Breakfast Stout is yet another fine, well-balanced brew from Founders. I continually look forward to this every year, and I highly recommend it!


$9.69 / 4-pack

8.3%

60 IBU

Grand Rapids, Michigan


Imperial Biscotti Break (Evil Twin)

Brewery : Evil Twin
Beer : Imperial Biscotti Break
Style : Imperial Stout
Variance : Brewed with Coffee, Almonds, and Vanilla

9 / 10

I really feel like some Italian tried to bake bread with nuts in it and fucked up and ended up with a biscotti. Why would you put nuts in bread you ask? YOU DON’T! If you answered that question any other way chances are you are racist. Why? No clue. I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten a biscotti but now after this beer I feel the urge to head down to Shoprite and give one a whirl or put on a gold chain, grow out my chest hair, and sexually harass a woman. I’m not sure if that last one was an actual Italian stereotype but it just felt right. Evil Twin has really achieved some next level shit with this beer and I’m glad I’m able to get this whenever I want now because it certainly will not be my last can. A mix of chocolate and coffee start this one off with only a moderate bitterness before a sweet alcohol flavor mixes in heating this brew up with a nice vanilla sweetness to wrap things up with almost an oak like aftertaste. Honestly, this beer tastes like it sat in bourbon barrels for half a year before making it into the can because of the unique blend of ingredients here and the strong showing of the 11.5% ABV only adds to the whole bourbon experience. Even with the high ABV present in this beer, it still goes down easier than a reporter trying to “persuade” Roger Ailes to give them a job (fuck that old tub of excrement) and that makes for a seriously dangerous brew. For the experienced stout drinker out there, this beer really needs to be sliding down your throat as you read this because it is in the top of it’s class for the style. As for you rookie bitches out there, this is going to be way to much to handle on your first rodeo but eventually you’ll be coming back. They always come back… Enjoy!

Written by: Steve B.

Happy Stouterday! Made a trip up to Roseville with my buddy Derrick to have a little funday on our day off. Went to the Yard House for lunch, then to Final Gravity to check it out and finally a BevMo! on the way home. Picked up these lovelies while I was out; Evil Twin Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room, New Belgium / Perennial Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout and another 4-pack of Sierra Nevada Narwhal.

Gonna cellar half of this one too, giving me 4 Narwhals total. Might try to get another 2; we’ll see. Also gonna set aside those Evil Twin bottles at least until December 24th.