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!

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!

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

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


2

Founders “KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)”

98 A+


This is my 300th beer review, which also serves to celebrate the two year anniversary of Beeritual! I just wanted to say thank you to all 117,000 of you for watching, reading, and perhaps drinking along with me. You give me a reason to keep going. Now, onto the review. This illustrious double stout is brewed with coffee and chocolate, then aged for one year in bourbon oak barrels. I was lucky enough to come across this bottle of “KBS” while traveling through Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s been ‘cellaring’ in my wine cooler ever since, and I am so pleased to be finally opening it up!

On the nose, coffee stands at the forefront like a vanilla latte with whipped cream. Roasted specialty malts come across like oatmeal cookie dough, and cocoa powder. Bourbon stands on the back end with characteristic hints of oak, covering the traces of alcohol.


The palate begins like a rush of decadent fudge or chocolate cake, followed up cold coffee with cream and sugar. The middle register is lactic, sort of like a chocolate malted milkshake. Hops approach with weak herbal tones, topped with flavors of coconut, and hints of cinnamon. Caramel sweetness gently rises, overshadowing the roasted bitterness. Esters rise with accents of dark fruit that come in the form of black cherry or black currant. Light phenols depart with a kiss of spice. The bourbon barrel softens the edges, enclosing the finish with flavors of vanilla and oak. Mouthfeel is medium-full in body, super creamy, rounded, wet at times, powdery at others, leaving with a deep alcoholic warming.


I’ve been wanting to try this for a very, very long time, and so I’ve constructed a set of expectations this can’t realistically live up to. I suppose it doesn’t live up to the hype, but it’s still great. Perhaps the most amazing feat is how they’ve managed to so strategically conceal the alcohol, as it comes across as bourbon to make a big statement without completely stealing the show. This beer is complex in scale, yet simple in delivery, even somewhat thin in some respects. There is plenty here to appreciate, so savor and sip slowly. I recommend it!


11.2%

70 IBU

Grand Rapids, Michigan

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

3

BrewDog Paradox Compass Box (15% abv)

BrewDog’s epic saga of two barley kernels on different paths reunited by fate continues. This time the sublime Paradox imperial stout joins forces with the Compass Box Whisky Co, sitting in barrels that previously housed the rather special blended Scotch whiskies from their Great King Street line for 221 days before bottling. A highly promising union, but then it needs to be. Y’see, when many think of BrewDog they think of super hoppy pale ale styles, but for me it’s their stouts, and the bigger the better. The small batch Paradox series has ‘til now delivered some of my all time favourite barrel aged impy’s and the level of expectation I have for a new release is quite honestly absurd. So just being good won’t be good enough. 

I needn’t have worried. The sweet whisky goodness caresses my taste buds with notes of caramel, vanilla, subtlety charred oak, and undertones of wildflower petals. Rising from the depths come increasingly bold, decadent flavours of  juicy dates, overripe figs, molasses, liquorice, bonfire toffee, bittersweet chocolate, and dark roast coffee. There’s a mildly earthy, spicy hop presence at the end, with the pleasantly warming, bittersweet and woody finish lingering for an age. As you’d expect it’s full bodied, soft, oh-so smooth, and nothing short of a luxurious experience for y’r gob. 

Aye, I adored this intense, complex, boozy, hella pricey, sumptuous delight. I’d go as far as to say it’s right up there with my very favourite Paradox releases, and as such my favourite BA impy stouts full stop. Phenomenal stuff, but absolutely not for the inexperienced or those with a more err, delicate palate. Cheers all!