imperial-stout

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

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

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

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!

Kentucky Breakfast Stout / KBS (Founders)

Brewery : Founders
Beer : Kentucky Breakfast Stout / KBS
Style : Imperial Stout
Variance : Brewed With Massive Amounts of Chocolate and Coffee and Aged in Bourbon Barrels for a Year

9.5 / 10

Holy shit this is amazing. I’ve been waiting to try this forever and I am so pleased to know that a Kentucky breakfast doesn’t just consist of fried chicken and incest (sorry KY but stop fucking your siblings…). I like that they rebranded this simply as KBS because there clearly aren’t enough abbreviations in the world so I’m glad you guys follow us here at CB on tumblr and IG and show love for NJ and NY LMAO. This beer starts with a great coffee bitterness that quickly switches into a bourbony goodness of booziness before ending with a sweet chocolate finish. This really is a damn near perfect stout because you taste all of it’s components one by one and it’s not a mishmash of flavor. I’m happy to confirm that this is another “hype” beer that lives up to it and in my opinion exceeds what my expectations were. If Kentucky wasn’t so fucked up and backwoods I’d consider moving there only if I was able to drink this every morning for breakfast (sorry for dogging you so bad KY) but since we know that’s not possible, I’ll happily stay in my own state. Highest recommendations to all the stout lovers and dabblers in the dark arts and besides the 11.2% ABV boozy taste, this is a great beer for newbies who want to get into some heavier shit. 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.

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

Vertical Limit

Back in 2012 Scottish craft beer dudes BrewDog were gettin’ ready to celebrate their 5th anniversary with all the usual party type things, y’know, cake, streamers, apple bobbing, a Livestreamed hot sauce circle jerk, but they just felt a certain summat was missin’. “Crikey fried fuck gizzards” they cried in unison, “We should probs make some beer or some shit, eh?”. And so they did. Based on the by now legendary AB:04, a teensy weensy batch of a chocolate, coffee, and chilli imperial stout for their boutique Abstrakt brand, the resulting Dog A was a chuffing great horny beast of a beer, and so were its 6th and 7th anniversary siblings, the entirely appropriately alphabetically named Dog B, and Doc C. I’d been meaning to do a vertical tasting of these wonders (minus this year’s Dog D, ‘cause barrel aged innit) for a while but ‘twasn’t ‘til Christmas gone that I got ‘round to it. Aww yus!

'Kay so I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it ‘til everyone’s sick of me then I’ll say it again. BrewDog, though better known for their hoppy pales, really shine with their stouts. Every damn one they make is magnificent and their best are a match for any I’ve ever had. This expression joins the original Black Eyed King Imp as my favourite of all their stouts. A 15%+ abv brew loaded with pure cacao and coffee and with naga chilli’s in a killer cameo role. So, Dog A then, and just the sight of that glorious sump oil-like liquid tumbling languidly into my glass caused goosebumps. ‘Tis a sublime brew erupting with mouth coating, rich, sweet, and complex flavours of dark chocolate, fine coffee, vanilla beans, stewed prunes, dates, figs, joy and magic. Add half a hedgerow’s worth of earthy, spicy, hops for added flavourama awesomness and a building bitterness towards the long, medium dry, and nicely warming finish, the cause of which can be shared by the smooth alcohol warmth and the perfectly judged naga chilli’s, and you’ve got it. *deep breath*

The other two are as you’d expect, just as deliriously flavoursome but with a slightly increasing intensity from their more mature and chilled out big brother. I think. I was in no fit state to make accurate notes or well, stand up, after these three. But whadda way to get wonky. P’r’aps my most favouritist of the like seventeen or so (loose estimate) beers I’ve tried to date, and revisiting them confirms that for me, barrel ageing 2015′s Dog D was entirely unnecessary, especially when BrewDog already have their exceptional Paradox series of barrel aged imperial stouts and the (hopefully!) now annual Black Eyed King Imp. Anyhoo, I’m off to see if I can get any more of these before they finally disappear for good, see y’all soon. 

Boulevard Brewing Company Imperial Stout X: Aztec Chocolate, 750 ml., 11% ABV, 63 IBUs. This is the first of the new Boulevard stout series that I’ve tried; the promise of xocoatl-like flavors was enough to entice me. I could have gone for a bit more chili spicing, but it’s still good. Just makes me wish it wasn’t 100° F outside.