Category Archives: Stout

Omnipollo ‘Legacy’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Omnipollo is celebrating 10 years by releasing a series of four beers to stand the test of time. A style with immense complexity, we often infuse our dark beers with coffee as its flavors meld perfectly with roasted character of malts, and to make things even better – finished with a good amount of our favorite ground vanilla. Carefully selected Ethiopian coffe roasted to specs by Kafferäven Per Nordby.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a wispy brown head that almost instantly peels back to the rim. Webbed but also spotty lace clings to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Pow! Our first thoughts are Coffee Stout and then after a little fish around on their webby it states they use Ethiopian coffee in the brew. It’s integrated with such beauty and embraced by warm and loving melted chocolate, burnt toast, licorice, fresh vanilla, white marshmallow, cocoa powder, lady finger biscuits and a subtle touch of affogato. Ok, we knew Omnipollo were masters but this is exceeding expectations!

Flavour: Aaaaaand there we go thinking this could be a 10/10 and the flavour profile misses the mark a tad. Don’t get us wrong it’s still superb…oodles of roasted coffee, chocolate powder, burnt toast, fresh vanilla, licorice and molasses. Very delicate white marshmallow and roasted pecans shift into a super roasty and slightly charred finish with plenty of coffee, burnt cocoa and vanilla on the back end.

Mouthfeel: This is where it lost some ground for us. It’s a little light on with a slippery texture. Co2 is kept low and the body sits around the medium mark. The 12% ABV is well concealed though.

Overall: Pretty impressive even if we factor in the less than perfect mouthfeel and intensity of flavour. It’s big and aggressive yet softened by the sweet vanilla and marshmallow. Solid offering.

Mr Banks ‘Oh! I Bake’ Imperial Pastry Stout

Rating:

“Imperial Pastry Stout conditioned on in house made salted caramel, toasted macadamia & vanilla Bean. This is one decadent & delicious treat of a beer. ⁠ Contains Lactose⁠.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a finger of light brown foam which retreats to the rim. A wet spotty lace is dragged down the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: This literally smells like a liquefied Creme Egg spiked with booze. The caramel component is so tantalisingly rich and decadent. As is the roasty dark chocolate, spicy vanilla and Frangelico. The Frangelico scent must be borne out of the use of macadamia nuts in the brew but either way it’s a pleasure to take in. Booze starting to tickle the nostrils as it warms.

Flavour: Jeez tell you what for 10.6% ABV that is dangerously drinkable. Indulgently sweet and rich yet so soft and nutty. Getting more of a coffee quality on the palate alongside heady notes of salted caramel, toffee fudge, brittle and raw vanilla bean. The macadamias float in and out while the chocolate stays pretty subtle in the background. Surprisingly light, nutty and chocolate-y finish that hangs on for dear life.

Mouthfeel: Oily, slick and incredibly light for not only the style but its ABV – 10.6%. Medium-full body, low-ish Co2.

Overall: Mr Banks just keep notching up in our books. We’re excited to say that they’re now entering the realm of The Bruery and what’s even better is the price point is way more favourable. Here’s hoping they keep on this trajectory.

Fury & Son Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This Imperial Stout is rich, bold and velvety. It showcases layers of flavours and complexity that are a delight on the senses. Join us in this seductive dance of darkness.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with two fingers of sturdy tan head perched on top. Good retention and healthy lace being strewn down the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: First couple of swirls and sniffs aren’t yielding a great deal. We’ve really gotta dig our noses in deep to uncover the delicate roasty malts, cocoa powder, sugary coffee, marshmallow and dark fruits i.e glazes cherry, dates and fig. To be honest it’s way too reserved for the style and what aromas it is producing are pretty subdued. Hoping they’ve left it all to the palate.

Flavour: The upside is there’s more happening here. It’s got a lot more depth and richness to the malts and it’s acting more like an Impy Stout which is a relief. It comes on with a semi rich roast with sugar-sweetened coffee, vanilla and chocolate powder backing up. A gentle bitterness alongside some warmth from the booze dries out the mid palate and rolls into a dry finish with hints of ash and burnt coffee on the back end.

Mouthfeel: Reasonably dense and creamy with an overall dryness. Low-ish Co2, medium-full body. The 10% ABV is pretty well behaved for its size.

Overall: Our first entry for Fury & Son and although we weren’t too impressed they’ve essentially left the door open so we can get a better feel of what they’re about. Until then…

Amager ‘Hr.Frederiksen’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Even when just poured into the glass, you feel straight away that Mr. Frederiksen is a master of potency and great personality. Pitch-black as Mr. Frederiksen’s humor, this American style Imperial Stout has a dense and creamy, light brown head that leaves an abundance of lacing on the glass as it reluctantly settles. We are happy to admit that we have gone slightly berserk with malt in this beer, eight different varieties were used including black and roasted malts that give this beer its color and almost extreme density – this is almost a meal in a bottle. The bitterness is also supplied by the roasted malts backed by the American Centennial hops. Mr. Frederiksen is an experience to be savoured he should be enjoyed slowly throughout the course of an entire evening where you can warm yourselves by his alcohol and provocative charms. We have named this beer after a good friend without whose wonderful support and assistance Amager Brewery would not be where it is today. Ingredients: Water, barley malt, wheat malt, oats, hops and yeast.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a wispy brown overlay which gradually recedes. It settles at the rim and leaves a lovely cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: When we think of unflavoured, straight up and down Imperial Stouts this is exactly what we envisage. Nothing fancy or over the top…just the classic four-to-the-floor Stout with a clever addition of American North West hops. It’s all about the base here though – hefty dark chocolate, coffee, campfire, licorice and molasses but it’s lifted even further by the well integrated pine, subtle citrus and herbal accents. Brilliant.

Flavour: The transition is dead set perfect. It kicks off with a confronting charred malt bitterness, coffee, warming booze, vanilla and pine which blends beautifully into the roasty, smoky and somewhat pithy middle. Those American hops certainly reveal the goods as a grapefruit acidity pushes forward into an increasingly dry and pithy yet rich and roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Big, aggressive, dense and dry. Not for the faint hearted that is for certain! Kinda oily, mild-moderate Co2. 10.5% ABV comes through intermittently.

Overall: Amager would definitely be enjoying a renewed respect from a big chunk of Australian craft drinkers right now. Whether it was a deliberate decision to give their beers a rest before making a return we’re unsure but we’re loving the fact that they’re back. Now, don’t ever leave us again! 😉

Resin Brewing ‘8 Shades’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Big, thick, and oily, our 8 Shades Imperial Stout is complex and regal. 8 specialty malts combine to give an intricate array of flavours, with chocolate and Arabica coffee leading the pack. Deceptively smooth for a brew of 8%, this one is for sipping slowly by the fire on a chilly winter’s evening.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a thumb of light brown foam resting atop. Gradual reduction and a wet sudsy lace is dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Nice and meaty. Not a whole lot standing out but the base is rich and intense. The hallmark wafts of heavily charred malts, espresso, dark chocolate, ash/campfire and licorice make up 90% of the aroma. Normally if that were the case we’d be ripping in but they’ve managed to fill it out enough for it be suffice. We’re also getting really subtle touches of dark fruit, marzipan and burnt toffee. Pretty solid.

Flavour: It comes on with a really strong roasty-ness…incorporating espresso coffee, charred malts, dark chocolate, burnt toffee and ash. It moves right into a dry and bitter middle which is underlined by a hint of pithy hop bitterness. As it pushes forward it steadily reverts back to a kinda dry, roasty, bitter espresso and dark chocolate-laden finish which lingers rather well.

Mouthfeel: A little thin to start but once it warmed it fills out. Still…not dense enough for the style. Medium-full body, low Co2, 8% ABV…quite well buried.

Overall: Looking at it as a straight Impy Stout it’s pretty decent as it’s got a sturdy base with good structure. Does it blow us away? No. It is, in the nicest way possible, just another Imperial Stout. Good but not overly memorable.

Stillwater X Casita ‘Flat Earth’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Imperial stout with burnt caramel, black truffle & lava salt.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades with a short dark brown cap which disappears as quickly as it emerged. It retains a thin halo which manages a consistent set of rings as we sip.

Aroma: This is packing some serious heat. Honestly if we were blindfolded and had to guess what we had we’d be saying it was a BCBS variant as the sheer size and decadence of this is next level. And it’s not even barrel aged! Massive wafts of rich toffee and treacle, molasses, Ribena, salted dark chocolate, sweet espresso and cigar box enjoy support from hints of earthy truffle, raw vanilla and syrupy dark fruits. Oopht!

Flavour: Literally has the texture of sump oil. It initiates with a cameo of warming booze but it quickly lays down for the uber rich and hedonistic molasses, treacle, sweet espresso and toffee. Intense vanilla, dates/prunes, earthy truffle and cigar skins continue with a real faint smoky/ashy note forming late. It rounds off on a burnt yet sweet, fruity yet earthy and salty finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick beer soup…it’s so dense we could almost eat it with a spoon. Low Co2, full-bodied. The 13% ABV does come in and out but it’s very well behaved for its size.

Overall: Holy bejeezus that’s a big beer. We remember being big fans of Stillwater when they first burst on to the Aussie scene – before Aussie craft hit its straps all those years ago. This reminds us exactly why were such big fans. Word of advice though…share this bad boy!

Evil Twin ‘Imperial Biscotti Break’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“The Roman Empire had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ – festive food culture, extravagant architecture and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen – that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient – keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Impenetrable black with a thumb of finely beaded foam resting atop. Reasonable retention and a cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow is this a pastry Stout or a creamy iced coffee with almond powder and vanilla?! And where the hell is that ominous-looking 11.5% ABV hiding? This gunna be dangerous 😬 First thing off is the coffee – sweet yet nutty and a little fruity. The Stout base, although reserved, still hits with a one-two of roasted malt, chocolate, beef jerky and molasses. Creamy vanilla/lactose and subtle almond/hazelnut to round it off. Supoib.

Flavour: Exact mirror image of the aroma. First up are the sweet and creamy aspects i.e vanilla, muscovado sugar and cocoa powder which passes the baton to the nutty, fruity and slightly acidic coffee. An inkling of warmth creeps in as it hits a gentle roasty note midway which then carries it all into an unbelievably smooth, creamy, slightly roasty and nutty finish that really draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and dense yet so well aerated. The 11.5% ABV…oopht… incredibly well concealed. Medium-full body, super tight carbonation.

Overall: You know what this is…this is The Bruery style pastry Stout without the price tag. It’s been a long time between drinks for us and Evil Twin and this corker of a beer is a reminder to keep in touch! Brilliant.

8 Wired ‘Gorky Park’ BBA Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

A big, heavy Russian imperial stout aged for two years in American bourbon barrels. A regal brew fit for evil empires of all shapes and forms, inspired by poetry and raised to the sounds of industrial heavy metal.

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with a fizzy short brown cap which slowly recedes. It eventually settles at the rim with a wet lace dragged down the glass.

Aroma: Ok well we weren’t expecting this slightly sour quality. We’ve let it settle now and it still displays a rather strong cherry-infused sourness which is far from what we’re after in a BBA Imperial Stout. It’s strange though coz the Bourbon/barrels do come through and it works in to the cherry quite nicely but it still begs the question.. why the hell is a BBA Russian Imperial Stout sour? Especially when there’s no mention of it anywhere in its description.

Flavour: We really don’t understand what angle they’re coming from here. If it were a BBA Imperial Stout with some sort of souring yeast or fruit then it would be shaping up to be a decent beer but there aren’t so it only leads us to believe the beer is infected. But to add more confusion it seems as if they meant for it to be slightly sour coz in a strange way it comes together. The downside again is that we didn’t buy a sour stout, we bought a BBA Imperial Stout!

Mouthfeel: Slick, relatively smooth and oily but with a discernible pursing of the lips. Mild-moderate Co2, medium-full body. 12.6% ABV.

Overall: One big old WTF?! It’s hard to know if they meant it or not. We know 8 Wired really ate up the sour movement years ago so it would kinda make sense that they did. We’re traditionalists…don’t mess with a BBA Russian Imperial Stout unless you’re sure it’s gonna come off. Unfortunately this one hasn’t.

Amager Bryghus X Modern Times ‘Black Nordic Skies’ Coffee Imperial Stout

Rating:

“The Lone Horseman is a ghostly phantom found in tales throughout the Nordic countries. According to legend, he will appear only on the darkest of nights and only when the polar lights ignite the skies. A knight in shining armor on a majestic bright white horse it is said, but no one really knows. Because no one has lived to tell. At Amager you risk meeting The Lone Horseman on the desolate and windswept Kalvebod Commons, if for some godforsaken reason you should wander this wilderness area on a deep, dark night. If you do, you’ll most likely be hopelessly lost, because even the bright lights of nearby Copenhagen will be dimmed to black out there. And if you then hear the distant snorting of a horse and hooves slowly approaching, you may soon spy a gentle, gallant and soft-spoken knight who will offer you a ride out of the darkness and back into civilization. And as tempting as it may seem to accept his kind offer, you must now instead flee. Flee as fast as you can. But it will most likely already be too late, as that kind and mesmerizing voice will lure you in. But no one who actually climbed the The Lone Horseman’s horse under that black Nordic sky, has ever been seen again alive. Who he is, nobody knows; but that he’s still out there, everybody knows.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a short brown head which quickly dissolves. It settles at the rim and leaves a cascading lace as we go.

Aroma: We’re all about this as it’s not focussing so hard on the coffee. We LOVE coffee but any old part time brewer can add coffee to a Stout and immediately make it better. Here, the base Stout has just as much of a say and it talks big; heavily roasted malts, licorice, molasses, dark chocolate, ash, marzipan, burnt brown sugar and oatmeal. The beautiful coffee accents just compliment the already magnificent aroma.

Flavour: This just oozes class. Upfront we’re getting a delicious sweetness that wasn’t presenting itself on the nose. It’s kinda sugary, vanilla-esque and it cuts through the big and meaty roasted malts like a knife through soft butter. The coffee, as delicious as it is, only plays a support role for the rich molasses, licorice, ash, chocolate and roasted nutty characters that march through the mid and continue through to the indulgent finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense, luscious and oily. Medium-full body, low-ish Co2. 10.7% ABV is fairly noticeable but adds to the sheer size of it.

Overall: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… we’re proper fanboys of Amager. Love their beers, love the artwork and love the clever descriptions. Just an all round world class brewery

Moon Dog ‘Jumping The Shark 2021’ BA Cherry, Chocolate & Coconut Imperial Stout

Rating:

“One of our most ridiculous, most anticipated, (mostly) annual releases is back! This Imperial Stout has all the ridiculousness you’d expect from a Jumping The Shark Release and then some. We’ve brewed a huge 12.6% Imperial Stout, popped it in some delicious rum barrels for a nice long beauty sleep and finished it with the cherry on top, amphora conditioned cherry, coconut and chocolate!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a fizzy brown head which dissipates rather quickly. It settles at the rim but leaves a magnificent lace down the glass.

Aroma: Oopht! That gets right up in the olfactories immediately. The dominant scent would be the cherry and at this stage it’s hard to tell whether it’s real fruit or syrup. Who cares! It smells nice! The creamy vanilla also comes off pretty strong as does the coconut, spicy dark rum, licorice and fudge. As we continue to take it in we can’t help but keep thinking boozy Cherry Ripe in a glass. Yum!

Flavour: Similar to the nose where the indecisive but prominent cherry kicks it all off. Coconut, vanilla, sugary dark rum and sweet spice shifts into an almost medicinal cherry flavour early in the mid. The big and aggressive stout base then steps in and carries licorice, molasses, cherry fudge, rum/barrels and coconut through to the rich, sweet and warming finish which draws out nicely.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light for the style. Medium-full body, oily texture, low-ish Co2. The 12.6% ABV is fairly well buried for its size.

Overall: Along with Bridge Road’s B2 bomber this is one of a very limited number of seasonal Aussie releases we hold out for. And again it has delivered. Not as well as some of the earlier releases but it’s still bloody good. The “amphora conditioned” side of it is a bit wanky though..no wonder non craft beer drinkers have a laugh at our expense sometimes! 😂

Mr Banks ‘Roasted’ Imperial Coffee Stout

Rating:

“A Big, roasty, coffee & chocolate laden imperial stout. Forget about your morning mug of joe, this is packed full of some of the finest Peru Chirinos Beans from Prodigal Coffee Roasters.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Glossy black with a thumb of fizzy yet finely beaded brown foam which quickly dissolves. It forms a halo and works a wet lace down the glass.

Aroma: Yup, loving this already. If you’ve been following us for long enough you’d know that coffee comes a comfortable 2nd to beer as our favourite beverage. So when these two magical worlds meet it’s usually just that…magical! The balance between the nutty, slightly burnt and chocolate-driven coffee and the roasty, licorice and ashy Stout base is literally divine. Honestly there’s no other way of describing it.

Flavour: We had to double check the ABV to reassure ourselves and yes, it’s 9.2% ABV. Dead set, where is it?! So dangerously drinkable! It opens up with a mild coffee roast, toasted walnuts, cocoa and ash – which develops a bit later. Picking up nuanced notes of vanilla and toasted coconut, light florals and burnt milk for days on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: So thick and creamy but unbelievably smooth. Mild-moderate Co2. Full body. As we touched on earlier the 9.2% ABV is incredibly well concealed.

Overall: Not often are we this impressed by Banksy but this offering deserves some adulation. It’s excquisitely balanced, rich and full flavoured and the coffee is beautifully integrated. That’s a definite two thumbs up from us.

Deeds Brewing ‘Once More Into The Fray’ BBA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This Imperial Stout was aged in Bourbon Barrels for 12 months resulting in thick chocolate notes, backed by vanilla, coconut, whiskey and oak.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a thumb of brown foam emerging on top. It steadily peels off but still manages a gorgeous wavy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Hell yeah…the Bourbon/barrels are infused with the base Stout characters extremely well. Loving how the creamy vanilla and coconut shines through the carnal richness of the malts and the decadent sweet spicy-ness of the Bourbon. The formwork certainly deserves a mention too; moreish chocolate, dates/prunes/figs, toffee, warming booze, molasses and licorice. Hot damn that’s good!

Flavour: We definitely get every bit of the 14.6% ABV but to be fair at that weight it’s impossible to hide. It comes on with a rich malt sweetness and chocolate then the Bourbon, oak, coffee, licorice, charred malts and spice come crashing through. The sweet vanilla and coconut enters the fray (pun intended!) And settles it all down as it finishes hot and heavily roasted with Bourbon for days.

Mouthfeel: Dense and bulky, oily, minimally carbed. Full body. The 14.6% ABV as we’ve mentioned is pretty in-your-face but kinda expected.

Overall: We don’t normally do Deeds as we believe they’re more about quantity than quality but hype has got the better of us on this one. We can certainly understand where the hype comes from though…this would no doubt be the best beer we’ve had from them. May have to grab a few more for the cellar! Brilliant.

London Beer Factory ‘Zia’ Tiramisu Imperial Stout

Rating:

“A decadent stout modeled after the famed Italian dessert. Luscious mocha coffee aromas rise straight from the glass. Drinking – a velvety, creamy body is supported by rich roasted barley – backed by adjunct sweetness and roasted chocolate malts. A digestivo, dessert, and coffee in one.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with a light brown head which swells to about two fingers before slowly retracting. Good retention and healthy lace as it ebbs.

Aroma: It’s imitating a tiramisu pretty damn well it must be said. Coffee, powdered chocolate, lactose/milk sugars and Kahlua. Funnily enough we even get subtle notes of Lady Finger biscuits (or it’s just our heads telling us that coz it’s one of the best parts of a tiramisu!). Also picking up hints of hazelnut syrup, cream, roasted malts, white meringue and vanilla. Very well balanced!

Flavour: Yuuummm! Literally just like a slightly boozy tiramisu in liquid form. The front palate is awash with lactose, vanilla and white sugar but the coffee, cocoa powder and lightly roasted malts offer the perfect balance. Then the delicious savoury notes of biscuit come through. Coffee and a delicate hint of Kahlua tails in late and finishes sweet yet roasty with good duration.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, creamy and a little gelatinous. Finely carbed. The 9.2% ABV is incredibly well buried.

Overall: It’s another one of those situations where we’ve had our eyes on a brewery but had never felt compelled to have a crack. And once again we’re pleasantly surprised by the intensity, quality and overall balance. That’s a damn fine offering. Not badly priced either!

Dead End ‘The Tower’ Chilli & Chocolate Imperial Stout

Rating:

“10 different malts, 100kg of organic Tunisian Deglet Nour dates, 100+ Madagascan vanilla pods, ethically produced Venezuelan cacao nibs, Mexican guajillo and chipotle chillies and a heap of organic cinnamon. No flavourings, extracts or essence. The Tower is a big thick stout. Warming and fruit forward Mexican chillies blend together with the freshly roasted Venezuelan cacao. All balanced off with organic cinnamon and Madagascan vanilla followed by a rich complex date sweetness. Fermented in open fermenters with an ester forward custom yeast blend.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a short brown head which quickly peels off. It forms a halo with thin rings marking each sip as we go.

Aroma: At first we can’t find much of the chilli or the chocolate but as this bad boy warms it really starts to open up. Rich dark chocolate initially then the fresh chilli comes through with its acidic and peppery accents. There’s a super decadent base in support too; espresso, campfire, warming booze/phenols, molasses, ink, spice, a hint of acetone and licorice. Oopht this has got some attitude!

Flavour: It really evolves well and thank goodness coz it hits like a tonne of bricks upfront. It’s like charred malts and 100% dark chocolate meets liquid smoke, vanilla and molasses. The chilli component is way too delicate for our liking though…not enough heat or flavour being generated from it. It hits a crescendo late in the mid and is assisted down with rich cocoa, espresso, subtle vanilla and spice. Literally sits on the palate for days!

Mouthfeel: So dense and oily, full bodied with low Co2. The 11% ABV certainly doesn’t shy away but is well enough hidden for its size.

Overall: This one also came recommended from a mate and we must say it hasn’t really come through as well as we’d expected. Nothing at all wrong with it it’s just a little rough around the edges. Still, not a bad drop.

Hawkers ’21 BBA Imperial Stout – Maple Edition

Rating:

“Whoever says morning is too early for a beer clearly never tried a stout infused with Canada’s tastiest export. Time spent in bourbon barrels fuses the darkness of night with the flavours of breakfast.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a tightly held three finger head. It takes an age to reduce and weaves a healthy lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Wooowww that maple! That is literally eyes rolling in the back of the head sort of stuff. Absolutely loving how it then blends into the sweet and spicy Bourbon then eventually the damp woody oak, vanilla and burnt toffee and finally on to the base Stout of dark chocolate, coffee, licorice, subtle molasses and raw cacao. It literally follows that progression through each time we take it in. Incredible depth and complexity here.

Flavour: Until now we’ve been impressed with this mixed BBA series but this one is head and shoulders above the rest. The coffee edition comes close but this is next level. The Bourbon spikes initially then the maple quickly softens the blow. All that woody oak, vanilla, caramel/toffee then opens up on to the rich dark chocolate, molasses, licorice, coffee and charred malts. Finishes rather roasty and charred with a bit of sting in the tail.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous but there’s a slightly lifted Co2 and bitterness. Medium-full body. The 13.1% ABV is discernible but excusable considering its size.

Overall: We’ve definitely left the best til last! As we said before the coffee edition was a stunner but the fusion of maple in this expression is absolutely delicious! Safe to say that this would give Stockade’s ‘Mountie’ a run for its money. Brilliant.

Hawkers ’21 BBA Imperial Stout – Coffee Edition

Rating:

“Is there as harmonious a match than between coffee and imperial stout? Add in the many months’ rest in ex-bourbon barrels and you’ve got the divine trinity from the ethereal Book of Stout.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a thumb of light brown foam emerging on top. Good retention and healthy lacing as it ebbs.

Aroma: We haven’t been blown away by this mixed barrel series so far but this could be the turning point! Man this fusion of coffee into the bourbon and oak is mind-blowing. This is what the previous releases (straight Impy, Bourbon and Rum barrel) were missing – that one feature flavour to bring it all together. And in this instance the coffee is that bridge between a passable barrel aged Impy Stout and a world world class one. Superb.

Flavour: One thing we’ve found across this series is the way they’ve hidden the booze. This expression highlights it thoroughly. The way it slides on to the palate with this silky smooth texture but then explodes with bourbon oak, coffee, dark chocolate, spice, toffee, molasses, charred malt and ganache is simply incredible. The roll on into the decadent, bourbon-fuelled yet smooth and roasty finish is just divine.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick and chewy as we’d expected. A higher carb is here but it doesn’t mess with the overall silky texture. Medium-full body, 12.9% ABV.

Overall: They’ve found their niche here. Their BBA Imperial Stout was good but their BBA Stout with ‘X’ flavour is where they should be aiming going forward. This is more like it!

Hawkers 2021 Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

Rating:

“More than 8 months of rest in barrels that previously aged rum has invigorated this imperial stout into a magnificent beast, harbouring notes of stewed fruits and rum spice. Drink now or cellar for another day—the choice is entirely yours, however there’s nothing like having one now and cellaring a second one for later.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black with two fingers of light brown head resting atop. Fairly good retention but not a lot of it sticks to the glass as we imbibe.

Aroma: The spicy and caramelised Rum qualities are exhibited well. So is the complex oak but our gripe with this (so early on 😬) is that the base Stout is a little weak and doesn’t really have the strength to carry the weight, so to speak. At the moment all we can pick up is the heady Rum, the barrels and mild dark chocolate, carob and molasses. It’s like the bottom end has been totally ripped out.

Flavour: Same issues as the aroma; the classic Rum and barrel flavours come through beautifully – they provide a rich and sweet spice, caramel/toffee and a lick of vanilla – but it’s like there’s nothing to tie it in to. Granted, the mild chocolate, molasses, roast and licorice save it from being a disaster but again, the base Stout isn’t enough to carry the Rum/barrels through.

Mouthfeel: A little too light on for an Impy Stout but it is oily with low-ish Co2. The 12.4% ABV is pretty well hidden too.

Overall: We were a little more forgiving with the Bourbon expression coz it was a pretty good offering but to pay almost $30 for this one is a little outrageous. Especially when you can buy a bottle of KBS for $13! Or spend another $10 or so for a BCBS! Doesn’t match the price tag in our opinion.

Hawkers 2021 BBA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Having slumbered in ex-bourbon barrels for over 8 months, this imperial stout has awoken with resurrected ferocity and ramped up flavours of bourbon and vanilla. Drink now or cellar for another day—the choice is entirely yours, however there’s nothing like having one now and cellaring a second one for later.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours solid black with a brown three finger head which maintains its shape. Excellent lacing clings to the glass as it ebbs.

Aroma: Smells freakin incredible! The way the bourbon pops but is so nicely fused through is testament to the brewers. Behind the magnificent bourbon are decadent notes of vanilla, caramel/toffee, mixed spice and bourbon oak. The base Stout is solid too; dark chocolate, molasses, a hint of licorice and coffee. Some gamey characters as well. Brilliant aroma…really complex with lots of depth.

Flavour: Not as perfectly refined as the aroma but it’s still delicious. The bourbon has slightly rougher edges but the sweet vanilla and toffee/caramel keeps it in check. Bitter dark chocolate, ash, raw coffee bean, tobacco and licorice all combine to provide a sturdy bottom end. Some warmth late in the piece then punctuating on a roasty, charred and bourbon-infused finish. Excellent duration too.

Mouthfeel: Pretty fierce, sharp and dense. Medium-full body. Low-ish Co2. The 12.8% ABV is fairly noticeable but at that weight it’s fair enough!

Overall: We were so close to giving this mixed barrel series a miss solely on its price point. Almost $30 a can is ridiculous (luckily we get them a bit cheaper!). For the price we honestly can’t say that this expression is worth it but, and that’s a big but, it’s pretty impressive and glad we took the leap.

Upfront Brewing Bourbon Oaked Imperial Milk Stout

Rating:

“A complex multi layered bourbon oaked imperial milk stout, with toasted coconut flakes, coconut cream and sticky Tongan vanilla beans.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Black with a short and loosely bound head which retreats quickly. It settles at the rim with fine rings being left after each sip.

Aroma: Very underwhelming to be brutally honest. When we see “Bourbon Oaked Imperial Stout with coconut cream and Tongan vanilla” we’re expecting something pretty damn impressive. What we’re actually getting are hints of acrylic, cheap leather, bakers chocolate and fresh vanilla but it’s more about what it’s missing; Bourbon oak, coconut cream and most importantly a sense of structure…it just seems extremely untidy and muddled to us.

Flavour: We were hoping things would turn around majorly here and although it’s a little better assembled it’s still way off the mark. Initially we get this acrid type of flavour which if it weren’t for the lovely vanilla sweetness this would be a sink pour. It shifts into a mildly roasty mid palate where a touch of that acrylic/acetone creeps in. Vanilla, some lactose sweetness and chocolate thankfully see it off in a rare glimpse of style.

Mouthfeel: Pretty dense and muscly, flat-ish Co2. The 10% ABV shows through more than its warranted. Medium-full body.

Overall: It’s probably no surprise that this didn’t do it for us. Very poorly executed, unbalanced, unstructured and some of the feature flavours are completely MIA. Very average stuff.

Wander Beyond ‘Sakura Twilight’ Cherry Chocolate Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This delectable stout is based around one of the most heavenly dessert pairings: velvety chocolate and tart cherries. Manchester-based Wander Beyond Brewing’s Sakura Twilight is brewed with fresh morello cherries and cacao nibs, making for a rich and decadent Imperial Stout with a lovely tart finish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades. It forms a finger of cherry-infused brown head which slowly reduces and weaves a gorgeous cascading lace down the glass.

Aroma: Oh wow that is simply delightful to take in. Just as we think the cherry is dominating it throws out a big dose of roasted malt, vanilla, chocolate ganache, golden syrup, marzipan and creamy oats to pull it back into line. Pretty sure we keep getting subtle hints of praline as well. And as it settles it all comes together and it’s downright gratifying.

Flavour: The cherry component isn’t as well integrated here but it doesn’t get too far ahead of the pack. There’s actually a hint of tartness upfront which tapers off into the more dessert-like qualities of dark chocolate, marzipan, vanilla and coffee. It kicks on into a nicely drawn out finish full of roasted malts, cherry, dark chocolate and cream.

Mouthfeel: Nice density to it but it could be a bit fuller considering its size though. Low-ish Co2. The 11% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: Look it’s a pretty solid beer. The flavour profile could have been a bit tighter but that’s a proper 1st world problem. Nothing to write home about but it’s a respectable offering.