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Beer Review #285 Sam Adams Imperial Stout

04-16-03Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Company) released their Imperial Series of beers when I was in college. I tried a few on draft at the time and liked most of them. I’m still not sold on the Double Bock but that’s a review for a different time. I finally got around to buying all four of them again for another round of tasting. In the past I have reviewed their Imperial White, and today I’m going to knock out their Imperial Stout.

Sam Adams Imperial Stout pours a black (real shocked /sarcasm) with a thin, tan head that quickly fades. This beer comes in at 9.2% so head retention is not to be expected. The nose is deeply roasty with a “dark sweetness.” You can tell it is a big, thick beer from the smell. There is a little heat along with a good helping of anise rising out of this one. Finally I got just a hint of some aged hop bitterness at the end.

On the first taste you get a good smash of caramel and toffee. It then moves to a bitter roasty flavor, like a really strong coffee that has been cooled down. The anise is in there as well along with just a bit of heat. I didn’t notice any hops when tasting that one as the roasty flavors took away any ability to taste hops.

This beer is chewy, thick, and wonderful. It is a really nice Imperial Stout. The balance is great and the flavor components match and compliment each other. This would be a great benchmark for what an Imperial Stout (non-hoppy of course) should be. This is a perfect sipper in my house. (more…)

Beer Review #265 Narwhal Imperial Stout

01-26-03We had a nice bit of snow here in northern Delaware last night and I was sipping on an imperial stout as the flakes came down. We only ended up with a tease of a 1/2 inch, but the beer at least measured up. Narwhal Imperial Stout is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This imperial stout comes in at a nice high 10.2%.

Like most imperial stouts this beer pours an inky black. It doesn’t pour as thick as some imperial stouts that I have had in the past. There is a decent tan head that stays longer than expected but eventually fades away to just a thin surface floating layer. I had no idea if this one was clear or not because this is one dark beer. Ever the thin layers near the edges yielded no light. The nose is packed with roasted malt. There is some slight chocolate in there as well. I didn’t notice anything on the hop front nor did I get any heat. Impressive. This beer just smells big. Maybe I have had too many imperial stouts in my day, but you can just tell this beer is big by the smell.

The roasted flavors of the nose carry through to the flavor. The roast is clean and enjoyable and not to “bitey” as other beers of this style that I have had. A nice bitter bakers chocolate flavor edges out the roast halfway though. A sight hop flavor comes in at the end. The hops was a bit piney but I honestly could get more descriptive then that as the malt bitterness ruled this beer. While I didn’t describe a lot of flavors, the interaction of the flavors really makes this beer complex. As the balance changes from roast to bitter chocolate to hops the beer shows itself fully.

I really, really dig this one. I’m usually split on liking/hating imperial stouts. They never seem to be able to achieve a true balance and any complexity that they do have gets overshadowed by roast or hops. This one stays complex and in balance. I really liked it and I’m going to be getting some of this beer to age in the basement for some time. (more…)

Beer Review #255 KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

12-26-03I have one of those “mystical” craft beers for today’s review. It is a hard beer to get and is highly regraded my many in the industry. Founders Brewing Company made a massive imperial stout (11.2% ABV) and then aged it oak bourbon barrels for a year before bottling this bad boy. The amount of time and effort that goes into making a beer like this is impressive. Finding one to actually try is equally as impressive. A special thanks to my buddy Mike who got this beer for me.

KBS pours a jet black color and has a tan head that quickly fades into the inky liquid below. The nose is packed with lots of chocolate and a bit of roast. There is bourbon present, but it’s not a crazy amount of bourbon like Victory’s Dark Intrigue. I didn’t get any hops on this one which was a slight surprise as it comes in at 70 IBUs.

On the first taste I got blown away by the amount of dark chocolate flavors being thrown at my mouth. There is a good amount of bitter baker’s chocolate followed by a slight roast on the end. There is some bourbon flavor, but it is rather muted and adds a nice depth of flavor to the beer. As the beer warms up the heat comes out more, but it is by no means a negative in the beer. All of the flavors really sing together and meld in the most wonderful of ways.

As expected for an imperial stout, this beer is very thick and creamy in the mouth. It’s a wonderful sipping beer that you can enjoy for long stretches. This beer is strong, bold, and balanced. I can really see why this beer is so loved and I will buy it at any chance that I have to get it. (more…)

Beer Review #241 Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout

I’m not a fan of coffee as a hot drink but I do enjoy the occasional iced coffee from time to time. It should come as no surprise that I love coffee beers. Kujo Imperial Coffee Stout from Flying Dog Brewery is a new coffee beer to me and I believe it is my first imperial one. Imperial Stouts tend to be hit or miss in my eyes. Sometimes the heat over powers everything else going on and you also get those beers that are too “dark.” The roasted malt levels become so high that they don’t produce a favorable flavors. When you get an Imperial Stout right, it’s a very nice, magical moment.

Kujo pours a dark, thick, black with a thin tan head. One of my friends refers to beers that pour like this as “sludge from the tap.” This one came from a bottle but you get the idea. The nose has a rich coffee odor that is mixed with some chocolate notes. There is some caramel in there as well which helps add to the richness. I didn’t notice any heat on this one but it did remind me of what an iced coffee and a stout would smell like if mixed. Point Flying Dog.

There are some super roasty notes that appear right off the bat with this one that then go into a healthy dose of caramel. Some bittersweet chocolate mixes in there as well once the sweetness has a chance to fade away. A hint of heat makes an appearance but is quickly masked by coffee notes. The whole flavor progression is very nice and surprisingly smooth. I was worried that the roasted notes at the beginning of the beer would fall victim to the problems I previously talked about but the large amount of sweetness ensured that this did not happen. Coffee does a really nice job of cleaning out this beer as I didn’t get anything on the hop end of this one.

The bottle says a “stout with coffee added.” If it were my label, I would have just put Imperial Coffee Stout in every spot possible as this beer really screams it. It has a large creamy mouthfeel, much like other Imperial Stouts. When drinking this beer I put “rich and loud” at the end of my notes. This beer rocks in at 8.9% so it’s no slouch. With winter coming (insert Game of Thrones joke) I highly suggest this one. (more…)