Category Archives: Stout

Sierra Nevada ‘BA Narwhal’ BA Imperial Stout


“Deep in our barrel room, out of light’s reach, our legendary Narwhal Imperial Stout rests in bourbon barrels for nearly a year. After aging, it emerges anew: rich with notes of oak, vanilla and coconut layered onto the Stout’s malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso. Enjoy this beast of a beer.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of brown head perched on top. Decent retention and lacing as it subsides.

Aroma: Bourbon barrels eat your heart out! It has similar characteristics to the Buffalo Trace barrel aged Ramjet we reviewed recently – big, beefy and menacing but with gorgeous shades of burnt toffee, vanilla, toasted coconut and spice with a very dank old oak character. It’s pure impy stout too – rich, roasty/charred, dark chocolate, espresso, licorice etc etc. All the usual suspects. Superb!

Flavour: Old Narwhal is fitting for this beer as it’s as big as a whale! Intense Bourbon barrel hits the taste buds and hints at vanilla, caramel/toffee, spice and subtle Sherry. The impy stout base plays a good support role with its char, chocolate and licorice notes. Traces of molasses, leather and ash work their way in to a big and warming finish that goes for days.

Mouthfeel: Dense, oily and muscly. Plenty of warmth from the 11.9% ABV but at the same time it’s tempered. Mild-moderate Co2. Full bodied.

Overall: Almost on par with the likes of Bourbon County and the like…in your face bourbon, aged oak and rich stout characters. Yes please!

Ocean Reach Brewing Oatmeal Stout


“Winter needs a warm, hearty stout, which is why we brewed a limited edition, 7.9% monster with enough oats to fill two local supermarkets. It’s so chocolatey and silly smooth that you’ll want it to be winter all year long.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Glossy black with two fingers of tan foam which stays the course. Slow reduction which allows for good lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Interesting. Initially we thought it was super hoppy but that has quickly changed to a kind of rich, dark and ink-like scent. We’ve just put our finger on it…it reminds us of those Artline permanent markers. Picking up hints of chocolate and floral hops but man we really can’t get past this sharp and almost menthol-like chemical aroma. Unfortunately it’s spoiling it.

Flavour: We were sincerely hoping to get around the same issues we were having on the nose. Although it’s not as prominent we can still pick up that chemical driven note that hints at ink or phenols. Roasted malt and chocolate peek through but the finish is simply sharp and boozy.

Mouthfeel: Tinny, prickly and slightly watery. The 7.9% ABV is quite evident. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2. Not ideal.

Overall: Have we got a bad can? All we’ve seen and heard about Ocean Reach has been positive but honestly this is pretty lousy. Smells and tastes a bit, well we won’t say infected, but it definitely seems phenolic. Very mediocre stuff.

The Bruery ‘Cherry Pie’ BA Imperial Stout


“Slice into this bold barrel-aged imperial stout and experience the nostalgia-inducing aroma of a warm cherry pie. Full-bodied and smacking of freshly-picked tart cherries, rich artisan vanilla, cinnamon and hints of brown sugar. This bakery is open for business.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a healthy two finger head. Excellent retention and lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: There’s only a few times when we can say that an aroma smells exactly like the food its imitating but this smells exactly like a cherry pie! Bursting with sweet and tart cherries, cinnamon, buttery pastry, vanilla, strawberry jam, plum jam, melted chocolate, caramelised pear and apple. We keep picking up hints of candied lemon which is strange yet it kind of works. Not much in the way of bourbon barrels but it doesn’t matter as there’s already enough happening.

Flavour: Holy moly, so much to unpack! Macerated cherry, cinnamon, vanilla, jammy red berries, cocoa, lightly roasted malts and caramel/toffee. The bourbon barrels show up a little bit more here with very faint woody oak and dark fruits. Pretty clever usage of bourbon barrels because they emphasize the same flavors already present (toffee, vanilla, spice and caramelised pear/apple).

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, medium bodied. It’s remarkable how well they’ve hidden the 10.2% ABV. Co2 is perfect.

Overall: These guys just keep getting better and better. We’ve mentioned it before but the shift in to 500ml cans was a masterstroke. And this Bakery series has us totally hooked! Loving it.

Boatrocker 2020 ‘Roger Ramjet’ BA Imperial Stout


“Roger Ramjet is our bourbon barrel aged version of the classic Ramjet. This years release has been aged in ever so delicious Buffalo Trace barrels for a little over 10 months. The result is pronounced bourbon character, balanced by the barrel notes of vanilla, coconut and oak. Full bodied, rich, and decadent, with all the complexity of the Ramjet base (chocolate, roast, malty)”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Black and totally impenetrable. It forms a short brown head which gradually recedes and settles at the rim. Some spotty lace as we go.

Aroma: The Buffalo Trace barrels are really prominent. Straight bourbon gives way to classic notes of vanilla, brown sugar, all spice and toasty oak. Subtle impy stout characters here and there – rich molasses, charred malt, dark chocolate and espresso. Intense! It should be marketed as a can of Buffalo Trace bourbon with a splash of imperial stout!

Flavour: Holy moly…the impy stout characters have come to the table. Aggressive and charred…lots of dark chocolate and molasses, licorice, espresso and burnt toast. Enter the Buffalo Trace barrels again bringing that signature toasty oak, vanilla, spice and brown sugar/toffee with it. The finish is big and menacing and chock-full of bourbon-y goodness.

Mouthfeel: Oily, slick and full bodied. Plenty of warmth from the booze (10.9% ABV) and more than likely boosted by the bourbon.

Overall: 10 months in first use barrels…now it all makes sense! Interesting that they’ve opted for the bottle/can split…Boatrocker say they want to see what the effect of bottling and canning would do to the flavour profile over time. We shall see as we got a bunch of both cans and bottles ourselves! Solid drop.

Mr Banks ‘Straight To The Fudge Room’ Imperial Stout


“A big, decadent and sweet Imperial Pastry Stout loaded with toasted organic pecans, cocoa nibs, Tahitian vanilla beans and lactose. This big luscious Imperial Stout is one to be slowly savored and enjoyed. Packing a serious flavour punch but still very drinkable for the big ABV. Its the perfect companion to sip on next to a crackling fire or as an alternative to Chocolate Eggs this Easter Sunday.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Opaque black with a thumb of brown foam holding its shape on top. The head is retained well enough to weave a fine lace down the glass.

Aroma: Quite muted considering what we have here. We were expecting to be slapped in the face with a big roast and tonnes of good pastry stout sweetness. Ok, it is there…mild toasted nutty-ness, fresh vanilla bean, cocoa, caramelised chocolate malts, marshmallow and toffee. Just nowhere near the intensity we’re after for the style.

Flavour: A little bit better. Certainly emphasized by a bit of warming booze (which come to think of it, was well disguised on the nose). We can get the toasted pecans – which is a lovely touch. Roasted malt, vanilla, cocoa, milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow offering some support. Incredibly smooth finish with a mild lingering roast and vanilla sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Very slick, creamy and ultra smooth. 11% ABV as stated before; evident yet well behaved. Medium body. Mild-moderate Co2.

Overall: Halfway through we realised that the smoke in the air (from back burning) could have affected the aroma. Then again the flavour profile wasn’t as intense as we’d hoped either. We’d be lying if we didn’t say we were a little disappointed.

Mountain Culture ‘Moon Dust’ Stout

“A sessionable stout we made for misty mountain days and long nights by the fire. Rich cocoa and coffee notes rise above its smooth, creamy caramel body leaving space for only a hint of residual bitterness.  It’s a taproom favourite, but we have decided to can it so it can reach you in your home.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impassable black body with a wispy brown overlay. The head retreats to the rim with little lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Fairly nice and easy. A hint of vanilla sweetness with chocolate, coffee, caramel and marshmallow overtones. There’s a very gentle roast with a bit of burnt brown sugar and after dinner mint coming through as it warms. Very tame for a stout but then it has been labelled as a “session stout” so we can’t be too harsh.

Flavour: As expected…quite docile and really only showing the four to the floor – chocolate, coffee, caramel and lightly roasted malts. It’s nice and earthy which does a lot to bring up the bottom end while it finishes with a well drawn out roasty bitterness, coffee and chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Good weight to it…for only 5.6% ABV it holds up nicely. Well balanced, medium body, mild-moderate Co2. What you’d expect from a good session stout.

Overall: Look it’s not going to blow your pants off but it would be a good option if you’re looking for a steady night. We say steady because a 4 pack will still put you away! It’s all about moderation here.

Hargreaves Hill 2018 Vintage Russian Imperial Stout


“A Black, velvety Imperial Stout with characters of liquorice, coffee and molasses. Roasted malts and a rich alcohol presence drive the palate with a lingering bitter finish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a finger of brown foam atop. It actually holds up quite well and weaves a fine lace down the glass.

Aroma: Big, aggressive, roasty and boozy. We wouldn’t want a RIS any other way! Loving the subtle touches of vanilla and marshmallow as they really soften the robust notes of mild acetone, molasses, coffee, dark chocolate, ash, licorice and lightly burnt wood. Some burning of the nostrils too but that can be expected when it weighs in at a hefty 11.2% ABV.

Flavour: Similar to the aroma – it opens up with a short cameo of sugary sweetness before the palate is engulfed by a wave of charred malts, espresso, ash, dark chocolate, molasses, campfire, licorice and burnt toast. This combination of copious contentment carries in to a cantankerous conclusion which drags out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Dense, chewy, yet surprisingly light and airy….certainly due to a slightly lifted Co2 (which works very well mind you).

Overall: Another absolute corker from Hargreaves Hill. We love how these guys have owned the traditional beer space (along with Red Hill) so well. Keep em comin!

Jackie O’s ‘Dark Apparition’ Russian Imperial Stout


“Seven malts were used to create deep flavors of coffee, chocolate, caramel, and molasses. A hint of bitterness and herbal character from carefully selected European and American hops help support the monolithic maltiness. A truly decadent brew that is intended to be poured into your favorite snifter and given time to warm up from its dark and cool resting place.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a loosely held thumb of brown foam. The head falls away and settles to a halo with little lacing to show.

Aroma: It’s a rich and formidable scent! Showing lots of layers of malt – treacle and toffee, molasses, coffee, dark chocolate, campfire/damp burnt wood, mint slice, chocolate bullets, roasted nuts i.e macadamia and hazelnut, iodine and even a hint of pine needles creeping in. Jeez there’s a lot to unpack here!

Flavour: One word…amazing! The way it evolves is truly impressive. It kicks off with a bit of toffee/caramelised sweetness which is met by roasted coffee and dark chocolate through the middle. The charred characters develop late carrying hints of burnt toast, ash and dry hop bitterness in to the well drawn out finish.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and inoffensive for the style. Silky even! Medium-full body, slightly oily texture, Co2 is spot on. 10.5% ABV is unbelievably well buried.

Overall: Diggin it big time. We’re not gonna say it’s as good as Dark Lord but it’s as good as Dark Lord if you get what we’re saying. Dead set on point.

Gigantic brewing Co ‘Most Premium’ Russian Imperial Stout


“As black as the uncaring hearts of the czars of Russia, as rich as their estates, as decadent as their palaces, and big enough for their empire, this imperial stout is nothing if not premium.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As we’d hoped – dense black with a wispy brown overlay. It eventually forms a halo with little lace as we go.

Aroma: Pretty menacing. It’s got that gritty earthy-ness in spades. Sweet rich molasses and toffee, soft cherry-like tones, iodine, coffee, dank herbals, toasty malt, chocolate, sweet dark fruits i.e raisin and blood plum, licorice/aniseed and toasted coconut. It’s interesting because it starts out pretty fierce but it mellows as it settles.

Flavour: Somewhat mild but full flavoured which is either a good or a bad thing, we haven’t worked that out yet. Licorice, coffee, molasses, dark fruits and heavily roasted malt get a good run. Lots of charred malt and roasted coffee midway leading in to a toasty finish with hints of cherry cola, chocolate and burnt toast. Good length on it.

Mouthfeel: Dense and syrupy with little help from the Co2. Kind of feels heavy in the stomach…even though it’s only medium bodied. 10% ABV is reasonably well concealed.

Overall: Not totally sold on it. The comic book-like label was almost enough for us to leave it alone and it appears the contents back up that theory. Not the best RIS…lacking the right body and hard to finish unfortunately. Maybe the barrel aged version is the way to go?

The Lost Abbey ‘Serpent’s Stout’ Imperial Stout


“The history of the bible and religion is indeed the struggle of good vs. evil. Our Serpent’s Stout recognizes the evil of the dark side that we all struggle with. This is a massively thick and opaque beer that begs the saints to join the sinners in their path to a black existence.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a tightly packed brown head. It doesn’t hang around, forming a halo with a wet drag down the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow it’s quite a fruity little number. It has a subtle mix of dark berries, raisin and cherry fused through its rather viscous array of charred malts, velvety coffee, chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, rich toffee fudge, earthy Asian spice, leather and mild smoky tones. Proper loving this subtle addition of the fruits…really hands it a unique character.

Flavour: Extremely rich and decadent. The fruit profile drops off a little and is replaced by a more pronounced charred malt and roast. Lots of bitter espresso, warming booze, chocolate and cocoa, vanilla, ash and kind of a woody/scorched timber accent. Quite a dry and bitter finish with heaps of char and smoke for days.

Mouthfeel: Muscly, velvety, oily. Full body with low Co2. The ABV (11%) is noticeable but forgivable considering its size.

Overall: It’s been a long time between drinks for us and Lost Abbey. We wish we could get our mits on it more often (and for a more affordable price!). This stout is classic Lost Abbey… traditional for the most part but still very edgy and intriguing. Solid.

Little Bang ‘Sludgebeast’ Imperial Stout


“Back in Fil’s shed was where the Sludgebeast emerged. All we said was “Why not?” Why not fill the mash all the way to the top? Why not use that many specialty grains? Why not dose it with coffee, cocoa, vanilla, oak, port, why not? Then we learned why not. Sludgebeast followed us to the warehouse, and destroyed everything it touched. It stuck sparges, broke pumps, perplexed palates, ruined parties, consumed souls.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight! A finger of brown head assembles and maintains its shape pretty well. Spotty lace clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Displaying some real gritty richness. Espresso, dark chocolate, ash, charred wood, cacao, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, fortified wine, licorice and molasses just to name a few. This could go on forever considering the way the aroma keeps evolving. Really impressive.

Flavour: Beasty! This intense concoction of heavily charred malts, burnt wood, espresso, 100% dark chocolate, stinging booze, licorice, vanilla, raw cacao, earthy richness and bitter blackness (sorry we just can’t articulate those last two). This weapon finishes as expected – aggressively, burned and bitter with good length.

Mouthfeel: Starts off with a thick viscosity but it thins as it warms. Booze (12%) always hangs around. Low Co2, high audacity!

Overall: This thing is animalistic but we feel the aggression of it is a double edged sword. It seems to undo itself a little with its outright disdain for the palate. Excellent in small doses is the best summary.

Stockade ’18 Vintage ‘Old Money’ BA Imperial Stout


“Single barrel, Rich and velvety, delivering coffee, dark chocolate and toffee characters, wrapped up in a silky, smooth malt palate. This Royal Russian Stout is lightly carbonated, offering a hearty and warming feel. It’s balance leans more towards the sweet side of the spectrum.”

 Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a thin brown overlay. It steadily reduced and settled to a halo with reasonable lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: After recently noticing we hadn’t reviewed the ’18 vintage (during the review of the ’19 vintage) we thought it must be done. And thank goodness we did! This bad boy is so rich and comforting it’s ridiculous! The whisky barrels are dense and hedonistic with strong support from the likes of charred malt, ash, espresso, dark chocolate, licorice and black leather. Not for the faint hearted!

Flavour: As anticipated it all translates on to the palate with huge whiskey/barrel dominance, charred malt, salted dark chocolate, licorice and burnt toffee/treacle. It’s so dank, earthy and boozy through the mid as it’s lead in to a slightly smoky charred finish with plenty of whiskey and musty oak drawing out on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety, luxurious. Full body with low-moderate Co2. 13.4% ABV presents strongly as expected.

Overall: Jeez that’s an impressive drop. Easily good enough to stack up against the best America and the rest of the world has to offer. Thank God we have another couple of 4 packs in the cellar…can’t wait to see how they improve over the coming years.

Belching Beaver ‘Peanut Butter Latte’ Golden Nitro Stout


“People love our Peanut Butter Milk Stout, and this time we put a fun twist on our classic. Thomas brewed up a milk stout that is golden in color, a real sensory trip, and loaded it with coffee and chocolate. Then we kicked it up a notch by peanut-butterizing (is that a word?) the beer for a real treat for Winter months. Tom said, “A Peanut Butter Latte, that sounds great!” Perfect to sip on chilled nights and early mornings. We hope you enjoy this new adventure in brewing as much as we do.”

Glassware: Tulip.

Appearance: Bold amber with a thumb of super creamy head which maintains its shape. Beautifully fine lace clings to the glass as we go.

Aroma: Smells incredible! Raw coffee beans emanate straight away with the slightly sweet nutty-ness of the peanut butter playing 2nd fiddle. We detect a bit of chilli/pink peppercorn too but it’s quite subdued. The latter kind of plays in to a spicy note alongside undertones of white chocolate and milk sugars, caramel, brioche, buttery pastry and apple pie. Some very unique scents here.

Flavour: Totally MIA. We can’t recall the last time we’ve ever been so intrigued by an aroma yet so let down by its flavour profile. It must have something to do with the nitro. All we get is this watered down mess of muted coffee and malty sweetness. Hardly any finish to it as it just slides off the palate in to no man’s land.

Mouthfeel: Thin, watery, minimal creaminess (which is somewhat expected from nitro). No booze, no body, no nothing.

Overall: Tell ya what if it wasn’t for the decent aroma we’d be absolutely panning this. Honestly we sipped enough to get the review done and poured the rest down the sink. Don’t waste your time or your hard-earned.

Stockade Brew Co ‘Old Money’ 2019 Vintage


“Aged in whisky barrel this massive beer has thick, velvety chocolate tones, coupled with rich raisin and currant notes.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a wispy brown head which peeled back instantly. A half ring and a foaming island in the middle is all that remains. Little lace as we hook in.

Aroma: Stanky! But decadent in oh so many ways. The whisky barrels take centre stage with its dense and spicy Sherry notes which smell like they haven’t seen the light of day for a hundred years. Blackstrap molasses, espresso, licorice, ash, vanilla, milk sugars and nutty dark chocolate lay the boot in to the olfactory’s. Absolutely monstrous aroma!

Flavour: Like a mirror image of the aroma. The whiskey/barrels have complete dominance imparting sweet caramels, vanilla and spice. Akin to a top shelf Caribbean rum rather than whiskey. Still, that rich complexity and almost nutty whiskey note is strong with dark chocolate, ash, molasses, espresso, charred malts and even a pinch of maple. Phenomenal!

Mouthfeel: Beer soup…simply ladle this bad boy in to your gob. Thick, chewy and full bodied. Low Co2. Big booze – 13.5% – let’s say somewhat evident shall we?

Overall: This is a bloody ripper. Without a doubt on par with Ramjet. The only downside is it’s now in a bloody can! We’re completely down with cans but not for BA stouts.. these should always be in bottles. Just our opinion.

Garage Project ‘Cabbages & Kings’ Imperial Oyster Stout


“This year our favourite festival turns 30 , and to celebrate we’re going off piste- a kettle sour spiked with Beetroot and infused with blood orange and mint. It creates a startling crystal pink beer with citrus palate and lifted aromas. Go Fringe Festival.”

Glassware: poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: pours a massive 2 finger width tan head full of small to large bubbles in ascending order. Great retention. Just sits there. Black as the ace of spades. Lots of lacing of the glass as we admire the thickness of the head.

Aroma: rich. Its full of those smoked malts, espresso, ash, brine, leather and gamey flesh. Can get a whiff of definite pepper. It sticks in the nostrals. Slight booze but so mimimal given this beast is 12%.

Flavour: is the word that keeps popping up. Strong upfront espresso bitterness and smoky malt, with booze heat, ash, and salt. The oyster is obvious too. Can feel back palate pepper heat too, which must be this native kiwi pepper leaf. It reminds us a bit of ancho chillies when used in stouts.

Mouthfeel: thick, luscious, creamy, and sticky on the lips. Its bitter then trails off and leaves a alcohol cloud in your mouth combined with the pepper heat. Its not overpowering. Very well balanced for 12% alc vol. Low carbonation obviously. Decent length on the palate. Just endless smoked malt.

Overall: this is certainly one to cellar. Its bold. If you aren’t a fan of smoked malt, this aint for you, despite the label completely underselling the smoke as being “a touch”. Its gamey, its salty, its beefy.

Garage Project ‘Silk Road’ Spiced milk stout.

This beer takes you on a spice journey, this spiced milk stout is brewed with lactose, almonds, watermelon seeds, green cardamom, saffron, aniseed, black pepper and hemp seed oil.

Glassware: pours cola with a big 2 finger width tan head full of mini bubbles that retains well. Plenty of sizzle up the sides of the glass. Held up to the light there is a beautiful ruby hue. The saffron?

Aroma: full of roasted malts with whiffs of pepper, cardamon, refreshing watermelon and a nuttiness that sits in the background.

Flavour: now get the roasted caramel malts, with almond nuttiness, aniseed licorice, very mild heat from the pepper and that lovely spice hit from cardamom. Ever so slight fruit hit of watery watermelon but its gone as the overpowering roast and spice takes over.

Mouthfeel: definite oilyness and creaminess from the hemp seed oil and lactose respectively. Well balanced bitterness from the roast and the alcohol is barely perceptible at 7.7% alc vol. Amazing brewing for all those spices included. Nothing too sharp or overpowering. Body is moderate at best. The lactose keeps it ever so slightly sweet but balanced and smooth “as silk”. Carbonation is low as expected.

Overall: absolutely divine. Impressive use of spice. So well balanced. So damn smooth. Slightly sweet offset by spice but tempered by nuttiness. Brilliant offering.

Nerd Brewing ‘Override’ Imperial Chocolate Milkshake Stout


“An imperial milk stout brewed with lactose and matured on freshly roasted cocoa nibs. These additions build on the chocolate notes from roasted malts to create a luxurious creamy chocolate character.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a wispy brown overlay. The head holds together well and leaves fine spotty lace down the glass.

Aroma: This is in-your-face ash tray kind of smokiness. Definitely a burnt out campfire vibe going on with a balancing act of rich dark chocolate, espresso, burnt rubber, black leather, licorice, lactose, molasses and something fruity like blackberries or cherry. It really starts to fan out as it settles. Good Lord this bad boy has some bite!

Flavour: Huuuuge! It’s amazing because the first sip is just pungent, smoky and burnt but the second sip provides a bit more sweetness and depth. By the time we’re on our third and fourth it’s all one big happy family – smoky yet sweet, rich but somehow balanced with that super subtle fruitiness coming through. Turns aggressive again to finish but still offers a plethora of rich flavour on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Dense and seriously full bodied. There’s a soft carbonation that gives a bit of life though. 10.5% ABV is evident at times.

Overall: This has got some serious vigour. And it’s not even barrel aged! Memo to Nerd Brewing…barrel age this bad boy! Or don’t. Coz it’s pretty freakin awesome how it is.

The Bruery ‘Coconut Macaroons’ BA Imperial Stout


“Craving macaroons? This Imperial Stout has been aged in bourbon barrels with added coconut and natural vanilla flavors fit to satisfy any craving.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a finger of dark brown foam atop. Good retention and good lacing as we go.

Aroma: Pow! One of the first things we smell is acetone. Once we step back a bit and let this baby settle it begins to take shape a bit. We see that acetone quality is just the bourbon barrels, which mind you come through with serious vigour. Coconut and vanilla in spades, charred malts, espresso coffee, molasses, licorice and a touch of soy sauce. That hint of bloody acetone still lingers though. Ooph…strident.

Flavour: Very dense and layered. Upfront it’s all classic BBA Imperial Stout – bourbon, woody oak, charred malts, espresso, leather and molasses. The vanilla and coconut are a bit slow off the mark but kick in to gear early in the mid. Salty dark chocolate and soy sauce then lead in to a warm and boozy finish with plenty of bourbon, charred malt and a touch of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Muscly with a thick viscosity. Full bodied, low-ish Co2. 12.2% ABV comes through as expected.

Overall: We’d admit it’s not the mind blowing BA stout we’re used to seeing from The Bruery. There’s some rough edges to it…one being the acetone on the nose. Still, an enjoyable stout with lots of complexity.

Garage Brewing ‘R.I.C.C.I’ Imperial Coffee Stout

87792316_1314828725367936_4095597452445351936_o“A decadent imperial stout fermented with organic dates then dosed with medium roast La Primavera coffee, sourced from Guatemalan cafetalero Raul Ricci, grandfather of Garage’s very own Maria. A complex malt bill including roast and caramel malts, oats, wheat and rye contributes to a rich, velvety smooth dark chocolate base.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black…as expected. It forms a thumb of finely beaded brown foam which holds together and leaves beautifully cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: We’ve said it a hundred times before and we’ll say it again: coffee and stout are one of the best blends ever created! The huge coffee overtones marry up to the somewhat sweet milk chocolate malts perfectly. Getting tonnes of marzipan, licorice and vanilla with more delicate touches of brown sugar, maple and toffee fudge. This has got the olfactory’s absolutely singing!

Flavour: Although still quite sweet there is much more of a pronounced roast and espresso bitterness. Caramelised brown sugar and vanilla soften the strong espresso, charred malts, cooking chocolate and warming booze. The warmth and bitterness kicks up another notch but flavour isn’t sacrificed…it still holds on to heady notes of raw espresso, chocolate and charred malt as it finishes with an assertive roasty bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Dense and chewy. Just a slightly lifted Co2 hands it a bit of liveliness. Booze (11.5% ABV) maybe a touch too enthusiastic.

Overall: Certainly a respectable coffee stout but yeah, just a couple of small things get in the way of it being a world class drop. Pretty damn good but.

Perennial Artisan Ales 2019 ‘Abraxas’

84313573_1302208006630008_6357157596490629120_o“Imperial Stout with Ancho Chilies, Cacao Nibs, Cinnamon, and Vanilla Beans”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Black as midnight with a quickly fading dark brown head. It settles at the rim with little lacing as we imbibe.

Aroma: Sweet baby Jesus this smells good…kinda like chai latte, iced mocha and hearty stout all rolled in to one. Then topped off with that classic acidity from the chilli peppers. The olfactory’s are in a spin trying to work out which scent dominates. Ultimately nothing does, it’s simply an amazing concoction of spice, peppers, charred malts, chocolate, espresso, vanilla, raw cacao, cola and toasted marshmallow. Freakin amazing!

Flavour: Again that chai latte note features quite prominently with its array of mixed spice, milk froth, vanilla and mild coffee. A surge of charred malt, chocolate, cacao and licorice is beautifully balanced by a touch of cola syrup and muscovado sugar sweetness. Then it all levels off in to an incredibly smooth finish with lingering warmth, spice, espresso and cocoa.

Mouthfeel: Oily and slick. It’s truly amazing how some of these U.S breweries achieve such a low density while maintaining a full body and massive ABV (11.5% in this case).

Overall: We think it’s safe to say that the ’19 vintage is better than last year’s. We found the ’18 was too eager on the spice front where here they’ve struck that perfect middle ground. Flawless.