Category Archives: Stout

Fremont 2017 ‘Barrel Aged Dark Star’ BA Imperial Stout


“This year’s release is a blend of 18, 12 and 8-month old bourbon barrel aged Dark Star in 12-year old Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The roasted and chocolate malts copliment the smooth oats to bring you a stout delight wrapped in the gentle embrace of bourbon barrel aged warmth.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impassable black with a short dark brown head emerging on top. It snaps back to the rim and leaves some spotty lace as we go.

Aroma: Phwoar! This is seriously intense. The oaky bourbon barrels certainly play a big part in it.. throwing spice, vanilla/coconut and dark fruit sweetness at us. Behind it is a freaking vicious mix of heavily roasted malts, molasses, raw cacao, espresso, booze, salty dark chocolate, licorice, cigars and burnt toast. Brilliant.

Flavour: Oh man…mirror image of the aroma. Jam packed full of bourbon oak and adjuncts but still so palate friendly which is insane! Especially considering the list of extras – dark chocolate, espresso, licorice, burnt toast, molasses, raw cacao, dark fruits and kind of smoky charred wood. It keeps on carrying on the back palate too.

Mouthfeel: Dense and oily. Full body, low Co2. 14% ABV is absurd but unbelievably well behaved.

Overall: Kind of difficult to put in to words how God damn good this is. So vicious but so beautifully balanced and down right delicious. If only it were more readily available in Australia. World class drop.

Bentspoke ‘Descent 20’ Russian Imperial Stout


“Starting a downhill descent into the unknown requires a level of composure to make it to the bottom in one piece, Descent 20, like its five predecessors requires plenty of composure, a little birthday magic and a nice warm fire to get you to the bottom of this beer!” 

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with two fingers of well retained brown foam resting atop. Excellent lacing as we go.

Aroma: Kind of like D19 where there’s not a whole lot that screams RIS. Sure, it’s big and boozy and there’s a solid base of charred malts and inky astringency but it seems something is missing. Maybe we’re being harsh as it does begin to open up as it settles – rich and complex notes of dried dark fruits, baker’s chocolate, bourbon oak, slightly fruity hops and sweet coffee come forward. Not half bad in the end.

Flavour: Like the aroma in the sense that we get a real messy intro of ink, muddled dark fruits and syrupy sweetness. But it somehow seems to correct itself and the yummy roasty characters kick in… charred wood, raw coffee bean, dark chocolate, licorice and gritty earthy-ness. Nice shift in to a roasty, mildly bitter and chocolatey finish which endures nicely.

Mouthfeel: Oily yet well carbonated. Medium body. The 10% ABV is pretty well behaved. Slightly timid for the style though.

Overall: Not the most mind blowing beer we’ve had from Bentspoke but it’s pretty good all the same. Not gonna be sweating on D21 though, if you catch our drift.

New England Brewing ‘Pecan Coffee’ Milk Stout


“So we increased the size of the team for this year’s Coffee Stout! Artisti Coffee Roasters has supplied its premium beans & Stahmann Farms at Moree in NSW has loaded us up with pecans. The aroma is black coffee with a creamy body of malty chocolate and refined coffee amongst a layer of nutty goodness. Roaster, Farmer & Brewer!”


Appearance: Glossy black with a thumb of lightly tanned foam perched on top. Decent retention and good lace following it down.

Aroma: The coffee component has a real bite to it…we love it! Smells like raw Arabica coffee bean with heavily roasted pecans in support. The sweet creaminess of the lactose opens up as it settles as does the lovely chocolate and cacao notes. There’s just this gorgeous overall roasty character to it which we’re really digging.

Flavour: Doesn’t have as much intensity as the aroma but there’s still a plethora of flavour kicking off with robust coffee and roasted malt, chocolate, toasted pecans and sweet creamy milk sugars. There’s a light 2nd wave of roasty-ness through the mid which leads to a mildly charred, chocolate and coffee finish. Good length on him too.

Mouthfeel: Creamy, relatively smooth with mild bitterness. Low-ish Co2 with the 6.2% ABV well buried.

Overall: Lovely drop here from New England. It’s meaty and crammed full of flavour yet very pleasant and easy to put back. Let’s just say it’s matching this chilly winters night perfectly.

Coastal Brewing ‘Grandis’ BA Imperial Stout


“Our latest barrel aged release, and our first barrel aged release in cans, is named after The Grandis, the tallest known tree in NSW which is located on the western edge of Myall Lakes National Park, just off Pacific Highway, north of Bulahdelah (on the road to Forster). The Grandis is an Imperial Stout, brewed with cacao nibs and local Forster Little Street Roasters coffee (coffee added both in the boil and cold brew) and then aged in Bourbon (JD 150th Anniversary Limited Edition), Ex-Bourbon Maple Syrup and Vanilla Extract (ex-Bourbon) barrels. The barrels have been blended together to give a super smooth barrel aged imperial stout sitting at the very drinkable 8.2%.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a finger of brown foam perched on top. Good retention with a wet lace dragged down the glass.

Aroma: From first glance it smells superb…oodles of roasted malt, coffee, Bourbon, vanilla, delicate hints of maple. But once we get our noses in there we pick up some nasties (let’s be clear though, they’re only subtle). We get that slightly metallic and chemical-like aroma which hints at blood and rusty coins. Damn shame because it truly has the bones.

Flavour: It all turns in to a bit of a mess here. Way too much bitterness for a barrel aged stout for one. The slighty metallic/chemical notes come through again and finally the barrel characters are almost completely lost in it all. We’re left with a somewhat decent base of bitter espresso, chocolate and charred malt.

Mouthfeel: Harsh, bitter and warming. Medium-full body. The 8.2% ABV barely gets it to imperial level yet still shows.

Overall: Quite disappointing in the end. From what started promisingly totally crashed. We kinda need to add the acetaldehyde factor too…just a hint of that green apple/pear coming through. Really unfortunate because it appears the brewers have put a lot of effort in to sourcing JD barrels (wow!), maple bourbon barrels and then blending.

The Bruery ‘Cafe Cocoa’ BA Imperial Stout


“Imperial Pastry Stout with Ancho Chiles, Coffee Beans, Cinnamon, Milk Sugar, and Vanilla.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a thumb of brown foam emerging on top. Good retention and healthy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Amazing…as expected! The only and we mean ONLY criticism would be that it’s very similar to Meemaw’s Sticky Bun with the main difference being the ancho chillies. But once again The Bruery hit it out of the park as that base sweetness is so perfectly counteracted by the chilli. Cinnamon, espresso, brioche, vanilla, melted milk chocolate and a very faint hint of agave. Superb.

Flavour: Loving the subtle warmth from the chilli upfront. Cinnamon, espresso and vanilla follow on with subtle brioche doughy-ness , lactose and further cinnamon through the mid. A really mild roast comes to the party and ushers in more vanilla, mild lactose sweetness and coffee for the finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy and textured. Not overly big for the style and the 9.7% ABV is well concealed. Low Co2, medium-full body.

Overall: Another impressive pastry stout from the original pastry stout brewers. No where near as good as Meemaw’s though. The ancho chillies offer a point of difference but it’s all a bit too similar in our opinion. Still, an excellent beer though.

The Bruery ‘Meemaw’s Sticky Bun’ BA Imperial Stout


“A heavenly aroma from Meemaw’s kitchen fills the house and your nose guides you to a pan of piping hot, golden brown sticky buns, oozing sugary cinnamon deliciousness topped with roasty pecans. This imperial stout serves up a delectable tribute to these famous treats, brewed with grandma-approved helpings of maple syrup, cinnamon, and pecans. Don’t be shy, take a bite into this freshly-baked stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Black with a finger of finely beaded brown foam perched on top. Steady reduction, eventually settling at the rim. Spotty lace sticks to the glass as go.

Aroma: If there was a liquid version of pure decadence it would be this. The fusion of caramel, butterscotch, cinnamon, maple and toasted pecans is heavenly. It’s extremely sweet but so well balanced…we could literally bathe in it. Unfortunately we don’t have sticky buns in Australia (as far as we know) so the closest comparison would be a caramelised cinnamon scroll dipped in maple and topped with crushed pecans. Salivating yet?!

Flavour: Literally liquid dessert! Conventional impy stout base with everything on the front of the can making an appearance. Not only that it’s the way the flavours gel together to create one big old palate-gasm. But from start to finish that’s the best way to explain it.

Mouthfeel: Thick, oily, viscous. Medium-full body, low Co2. The 9.2% ABV is ridiculously well hidden.

Overall: We’ve probably said it a few times already so we’ll just get straight to the point – if you see this then grab it. World class stuff.

Spencer Trappist Brewery Imperial Stout


“A massive, roasted, malt-forward American Trappist take on the Anglo-Russo Imperial Stout tradition.  Luxuriantly frothy foam, waves of coffee, chocolate and caramel sensations, a generous blend of dark fruit flavors.  Intense and robust.”

Glassware: Snifter

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a finely beaded two finger crown. The head holds together well and works a healthy lace down the glass.

Aroma: A lot fruitier than anticipated. Dark fruits, mostly dates/prunes, raisin, fig and blood plum entertain some yeast esters – banana runts, apple/pear and earthy spice. Lashings of toffee and caramel, carob, cookie dough, licorice and roasted dark malts. Undertones of ginger bread, pumpernickel and warming booze for good measure. Complex but very luxurious.

Flavour: Oh yeah…a bit more of an emphasis on the roast, coffee and dark chocolate with the yeasty Belgian accents working in the background. Nice and fruity through the middle but well balanced by a gritty earthy-ness. Hits a real yeasty Trappist ale note late in the piece then finishes roasty, earthy and chocolatey.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full yet really well balanced. Slightly creamy texture with a soft carbonation. 8.7% ABV is reasonably well disguised.

Overall: We’re really digging what these guys are putting out. Being the only American Trappist brewery they have a traditional Belgian perspective but they offer a new world approach to their beers. This Imperial Stout is the perfect example. Keep em coming!

Foghorn Brewery ‘Sligo’ Foreign Extra Stout


“Sligo Extra Stout was awarded the Champion Stout at the 2015 Australian Craft Beer Industry Awards.  It is a big, dark, roast beer as it should be – brewed in tribute to the Export Stouts of old but with a modern craft approach. Layers of dark chocolate and roast coffee character with a strong hop bite. Clean and drinkable for its size but a good winter warmer just the same. Named after the great west coast Irish County Sligo, Sligo Extra Stout is for the lovers of all things dark.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Mat black with a big and puffy two and a half finger head. Excellent retention and tonnes of lace sticking to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: The first thing we notice is the almost black IPA nature of it… obviously the stout characters dominate but it’s super hoppy! Lovely blend of piney and citrusy hops weave through the rich and somewhat dry roasty notes. Cordial hints of chocolate, coffee, toasty malts and light roast are basic yet finely executed. Diggin it!

Flavour: Really hitting those black IPA notes again – piney, citrusy and kinda earthy hops burrow their way in to the dry, gritty and roasty notes of chocolate, coffee, mild char, burnt toast and very mild smoke. It really dries out midway and delivers a dry and slighty creamy finish with lingering roast, piney and earthy hops for days.

Mouthfeel: Dry, slightly soapy with mild-medium bitterness. Moderate body. 7.6% ABV is very well hidden.

Overall: Hitting all the right notes…it really shows that dry foreign export stout quality. Four to the floor stout but in true Foghorn fashion it’s got an American twist with those piney and citrusy hops. Solid drop.

Mountain Culture ‘Eudaimonia’ Russian Imperial Stout


“A Russian Imperial Stout that we’ve thrown our heart, soul and everything left in the brewhouse into, with the hope that its darkness be your guiding light. FYI, etymologically, Eudaimonia consists of the words “eu” (“good”) and “daimōn” (“spirit”). At 10%ABV, it’ll blow your hair back. In the best way.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impassable black with a loosely held brown head. It quickly forms a collar with scarce lacing as we indulge.

Aroma: Very smooth and placid for a RIS. On first meet you wouldn’t think you had a beasty 10%er in your glass and that says two things – 1) they’ve hidden the booze well but 2) it’s a little lackluster for the style. There’s a hearty albeit subtle base of molasses, licorice, black coffee, charred malt and mild ash. Some earthy gritty-ness and burnt toffee buried deep. Not bad but as already mentioned a bit too delicate.

Flavour: Wow she’s as smooth as a baby’s backside. We’re certainly more welcoming of its laid back nature on the palate. Shows a hint of sweetness upfront with the gritty roasty malt and coffee following close behind. A hint of warmth through the mid, licorice, ash and light smoky notes forming late and complimenting the milk chocolate finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense, super oily and gelatinous with low Co2 and an extremely well concealed ABV (10%).

Overall: Somehow they’ve made it approachable… it’s not every day you hear that about a RIS. Not too bad if you ignore the beer oyster as well (congealed yeast for those who are a little freaked out about that)… totally harmless. Just looks like shit!

Clown Shoes ‘Mocha Sombrero’ Mexican Chocolate Stout


“Mexican-Style Chocolate Stout with Coffee and Vanilla. Bring me my cape. Now, bring me my sombrero. Now. Bring me the coffee. The brave luchador has become quite the sensation, but without proper caffeination and hydration, he would be nothing. Mocha Sombrero takes our Mexican-Style Chocolate Stout recipe and alters it with additions of Coffee and Vanilla. Pronounced dark malt flavors mix with sweet vanilla notes for a full-bodied and approachable stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Mat black with a big and frothy three finger head. It takes an age to break up and eventually settles to a thick overlay which makes a mess on the glass.

Aroma: One of the first things we’re loving is the heady wafts of freshly ground coffee beans. Big additions of fresh vanilla, roasted malt, spice and marijuana smoke (how do we know what that smells like we hear you say!?). What we’d like to know is how they manage to acquire that specific aroma! It’s interesting coz it somewhat fades as it settles.

Flavour: Nice and roasty upfront. Fresh coffee and vanilla is certainly front and centre. Layers of chocolate, gritty earthy-ness, subtle smoke, mixed spice (star anise, cinnamon, pepper) and burnt toffee giving rise to subtle toasted marshmallow late in the piece. The finish is roasty, sweet-ish, kind of bitter and spicy with coffee hanging on for days.

Mouthfeel: Rather lean for a stout of its size (7% ABV). It doesn’t affect the intensity of flavour one bit though. Medium body, mild-moderate Co2.

Overall: More than enough here to chew on. But is it memorable? Unfortunately not. Once we’re past the feature coffee and vanilla there isn’t a whole lot else backing up. Not bad but not great.

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.