Category Archives: Stout

Boatrocker X De Molen ‘Windmills & Weathervanes’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Back in 2020, a long distance collaboration between two masters of dark beers, De Molen & Boatrocker, saw the release of a beer that won people’s hearts. Fast forward to 2022, the original idea has been realised…A bourbon barrel aged version of Windmills & Weathervanes…To the mash, we added freshly toasted and charred old bourbon barrel staves, then over 10kg of Ancho, Pasilla, and Morita chillies were added to the beer, along with 10kg of cacao nibs, 40 vanilla beans and 45 cinnamon quills…and then more than 12 months in 1st use bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace…the result is a balanced molé-ish imperial stout-ish.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as midnight with a dense and creamy brown head. It very gradually recedes but not a lot of it sticks as we go.

Aroma: We’ve been eagerly awaiting this ever since we bought them and there’s really no surprises that it smells terrific. Initially it’s all about the big and rich Imperial Stout base along with the sweet and spicy bourbon/barrels which counteracts it. The molé component is a tad more obscure but there to be found with its subtle cocoa, chilli peppers and spice. It all comes together incredibly well.

Flavour: There’s a lot going on from the moment it hits the taste buds. The most notable is the rich Stout base of dark chocolate, licorice and molasses but the sweet spice, cocoa and bourbon add so much depth and complexity. It’s like the taste buds are being pulled in every direction. As it progresses it all gradually peels off and we’re left with the delicious bourbon and charred malts to finish.

Mouthfeel: Dense and muscly. Slightly oily, low-ish Co2 and medium-full body. The 9.5% ABV is fairly well behaved.

Overall: We’ve gotta commend Boatrocker on such a high profile collab. De Molen are one of the biggest and best players in the dark beer market so big ups on making that one happen. Big ups on the beer too – rich, well balanced, complex. Deeds still hold the title for best BA Imperial Stout though!

Deeds ‘Darker Motives’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This beer was brewed specially to celebrate the launch of our Denver & Liely x Carwyn Cellars Beer Glass

Vanilla, bourbon and oak dominate the nose with a mild hint of banana’s foster in the background. Soft coconut gives way to a dessert like chocolate and cocoa amplifying an embodied sweetness. The back half lends to a balanced finish with a lovely smooth profile highlighted by that sweet, sweet bourbon.

Glassware: Snifter (unfortunately not the one they brewed this for)

Appearance: Pours as black as midnight with a finely beaded two finger head perched nicely on top. Good retention and wavy lace sticking to the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Once again it appears that Deeds have nailed another impressive BBA Imperial Stout. Yes, the bourbon offers excellent uplift but we think it’s fair to say that this time around the robust and decadent Stout base has matched it. Huge wafts of molasses, licorice, charred malts, ash, espresso and oak over much sweeter and more subtle notes of spicy bourbon, vanilla/toasted coconut and treacle. Yum!

Flavour: Pow! Definitely a lot more aggressive and bitter than previous BBA releases. A fair bit of warmth upfront…emphasised by bittersweet dark chocolate and espresso coffee, ash, charred malts and oak. The bourbon gets a little lost in it all in our opinion, which is very unlike them. Nice warm finish with lots of coffee, chocolate and booze.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily, warming. A little acrid at times though. Co2 is up a little, medium-full body. The 14.1% ABV is certainly detectable.

Overall: Not our favourite BBA Impy Stout from Deeds that’s for sure. It’s still a fairly respectable drop but.

Omnipollo ‘Barrel Aged Mammut’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Bourbon Barrel Aged Coconut Vanilla Hazelnut Imperial Stout aged in a blend of Willet Bourbon and Rye and Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Rye barrels.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Holy moly this thing pours like engine oil – dense and black AF! Next to no head generated. Even the single stream of Co2 is struggling to break the surface. Oopht!

Aroma: As we anticipated its extremely rich, dense, nutty and woody yet the creamy vanilla and coconut still presents fairly well. The bourbon barrels play a huge role in the overall sweet and spiciness that offsets the decadent dark chocolate, molasses and raw coffee beans. The actual oak from the barrels can be detected too…which is rare as the bourbon typically drowns it out. Wow.

Flavour: Ok so we don’t like to exaggerate things very often but this beer is actually akin to drinking thick syrup. The density is like nothing we’ve ever drunk before. Flavour-wise it’s amazing….the hazelnut distinctly stands out with the coconut, vanilla, molasses and subtle bourbon/oak hitting up and driving all the way through to the nutty and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: As we touched on before it is mind-blowingly dense and syrupy. Practically no carbonation to it and the 12% ABV is very well buried.

Overall: So we don’t really know what to think. Is this a boozy thick shake Stout? We’re all for thick, dense and aggressive Stouts but we think we may have just found our ceiling.

Bottle Logic ‘Golden Ratio’ Golden Milk Stout

Rating:

“Our Golden Ratio series features a rotating coffee highlight on a silky Golden Milk Stout base. This second entry showcases Stereoscope Coffee’s El Paraiso beans from Finca El Paraiso in Colombia. The lactic fermentation this coffee undergoes fosters a dense layering of aromas and flavors of blueberry preserves, sweet mint, and bittersweet cocoa. Medium-full body with a subtly sweet finish, brewed with lactose.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours like a classic pale ale – deep golden hue and a thumb of off white head which is retained reasonably well. Decent lace trailing it down as we go.

Aroma: Mostly sweet and chewy caramels, creamy vanilla, lactose, cookie dough, light tangy notes and cocoa powder. The coffee is very subtle…too subtle actually. In our opinion they need to dial it up a lot more considering its labelled as a Golden Stout with coffee. There’s some very interesting back notes to it; the main ones being the mint tea and the fresh blueberry notes. Not bad so far.

Flavour: Not getting as much of the caramel sweetness here. Still picking up plenty of the sweet vanilla and lactose, macerated blueberries, cookie dough and white sugar. Again, the coffee is extremely delicate and truncated for a beer featuring coffee. A very faint hint of those candied mint/tea-like herbals before a sweet and sugary finish rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth and silky. A very mild bitterness comes into play with a nice and effervescent Co2. The 9% ABV is really well concealed.

Overall: We really like the edgy-ness of Golden Stouts and we thought BL being the world class masters they are would have smashed this outta the park. Not to be. It’s missing the coffee big time and just lacking a bit in other areas. Good but not great.

Anderson Valley ‘Huge Arker’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“True to its Boontling moniker, “Huge Arker” is a massive force of nature that detonates on your tongue. After primary fermentation, the beer is aged in Wild Turkey® Bourbon barrels until it fully matures.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a thumb of creamy tan foam resting atop. The head lasts and draws a fine lace down the sides of the glass.

Aroma: It’s weird right now coz it seems like all we can smell is the bourbon. Fortunately the longer it sits in the glass the more it pans out…allowing the oak and what we feel could be a slightly feeble Stout base to come forward. We may end up eating our words here because it has finally come together and it’s smelling like a fine BBA Imperial Stout now.

Flavour: One step forward two steps back. Upfront it’s very big and abrasive. The booze is sharp (hell we only just realised this is a 15.5% monster) and we feel it needs something to smooth it all out. The bourbon/barrels are actually nicely positioned in the beer plus the sturdy malt base offers a lot of good roasty support. The finish is as rough as guys and slightly bitter too…just to add to the woes.

Mouthfeel: Prickly, astringent and overrepresented by the booze. Medium-full body, Co2 is kept low. We actually fear every sip haha.

Overall: Yeah, nah. Seriously why do they land on 15.5% ABV when it clearly can’t carry it? There’s no doubt that they need to shave off at least 5 to 6% for this to be enjoyable. If they’re going to keep it at that level they need to look to Goose Island for some tips.

Clown Shoes ‘Luchador At Sunrise’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Master Clown Shoes began to feel despair. What was he doing? What’s the point and what’s the purpose of it all? Where, how, could he find a way to fix himself? While lost in these dark thoughts, shockingly, the brewery came under attack! A giant four armed Luchador was tearing the building apart, batting aside or crushing workers in his path. Master Clown Shoes moved to defend his new home, taking a defensive stance as he peered into the face of the monster and he saw his nemesis.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours dense black and forms a two finger brown head which maintains its shape pretty well. Kinda wet but webbed lacing is left in its wake.

Aroma: The bourbon/barrels are displayed brilliantly…nice and direct but integrated well enough that the other magnificent aromatics have their say – vanilla/French oak, vinous fruits, cinnamon, black pepper, chipotle, licorice, red wine tannins and coffee. As it settles in we’re getting richer notes of molasses, charred malts and dark chocolate filling it out. Solid.

Flavour: Upfront it’s big and muscly, chock full of molasses, dark chocolate, bitter espresso and a light hint of chipotle. The oak (plus the hallmark vanilla accents) present nicely but the bourbon characters seem to have dropped off which is a shame. A gentle booze burn then charred malts set up for a long, bitter and roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth, medium-full bodied, mild-moderate Co2. The 10.5% ABV comes through intermittently.

Overall: It somewhat reminds us of a cheaper, much younger and unrefined Hunahpu at times. The spice/chilli components could’ve done with a boost as could’ve the bourbon. There’s a few minor blemishes but it’s a fairly decent offering.

Alesmith ‘Speedway Stout – Madagascar Vanilla & Ceylon Alba Cinnamon’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“For this special edition of our Imperial Stout with coffee, we decided to offer up some comfort for the cooler winter and fall months. A generous amount of Madagascar vanilla beans along with just the right amount of Ceylon Alba cinnamon provides this beer a delicate milky sweetness, notes of cinnamon, roast, and a subtle spiciness. Cheers!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As expected it hits the glass with an impenetrable black hue and forms two fingers of finely beaded brown foam. It retains the head well and manages a healthy lace as we imbibe.

Aroma: Now this smells the goods. We’ve been quite critical of Alesmith’s spin off Speedway Stout series but this release actually smells magnificent. The sweet and candy-esque vanilla, fragrant cinnamon and robust coffee all combine beautifully. What’s even better is they’re supported by a sturdy base of chocolate, roasted malt, treacle and Bounty bars.

Flavour: See this is where they keep tripping up though. The transition of all those fantastic aromas simply isn’t there. What we get is a slightly astringent booze burn, rigid malt roasty-ness and overly bitter coffee. Only after that rough initiation do we start to see the sweet and spicy vanilla and cinnamon, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, licorice and ash.

Mouthfeel: Nice and full but the texture is a little abrasive. Probably too much booze burn (12% ABV) for us too. Co2 is well placed though.

Overall: This series is akin to an abusive relationship…we know in the back of our minds not to keep going back but our loyalty and hope for change supercedes every time! 😂

Deep Creek ‘Mademoiselle’ Espresso Martini Stout

Rating:

“The origins of this recipe take us back to the late nights of 1980’s, where a famous model asked London bartender, Dick Bradel, to create a drink that would wake her up. Rich coffee, smooth vanilla & luxurious dark chocolate, blended together to accent the stouts dark chocolate malt flavours. Café, vanille et chocolat? Dans une bière? Merci Mademoiselle!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with two fingers of well retained foam resting atop. Nice hold and healthy lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: At first meet the espresso martini element isn’t really what we’d hoped for. Yes, the coffee, dark chocolate and vanilla is there but it has this strange earthy quality which somewhat taints it all. We’re also picking up a bit of a fruity accent as well…a bit like glazed cherry. Which isn’t a bad thing of course but we wanted an espresso martini in beer form *bangs fists on table like a bratty child*

Flavour: Nope. It’s all just wrong. And why the hell is it so bitter?! Where’s the smooth, creamy and self gratifying vanilla, coffee and chocolate? For God’s sake how hard can it be to duplicate the basic flavours of this cocktail! Granted, the bitterness does start to diminish the longer it settles but the flavour profile is so far from what we were after. Very disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Garbage. The texture is rigid and watery and the bitterness is simply unwelcome. The body seems deflated but the Co2 is ok…at least they got that right.

Overall: So if our feelings aren’t already clear we didn’t like this beer. Honestly this is our 3rd or 4th espresso martini spin off we’ve tried and not one brewery has got it right yet. Why is it so damn hard? We don’t get it.

Stone ‘Xocoveza – Tres Leches’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Stone Xocoveza Tres Leches combines the inspiration of Oaxacan Hot Chocolate and Tres Leches treats in an imperial stout that’s smooth, creamy and intensely indulgent. Made from all that’s good about the holidays, Stone Xocoveza is brewed with chocolate, coffee, Pasilla peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Jet black pour with a short and fizzy dark tan head which peels off pretty quick. It laces really well considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Wow there’s some serious uplift here. Everything they state on the can is what we’re getting; cinnamon, pasila peppers and coffee first then the chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla and oats are backing up nicely. Other scents we’re picking up include raw cacao, cracked pink peppercorns, milk sugars, freshly ground ginger and even a hint of molé. Aroma country!

Flavour: All the complexity and intensity carries over from the aroma nicely. It seems like all the feature flavours rush the front palate…almost to the point where it’s a little overwhelming. Peppers, mixed sweet spices and chocolate are nicely balanced by the sweet vanilla and milk sugars. Then the roasted malts and coffee set up for a warming and lengthy finish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly smooth considering the 8.5% ABV and the ascending heat from the peppers. Medium body and mild-moderate Co2.

Overall: It’s been a seriously long time between drinks for us and Stone. A rough guess would put it at at least 4-5 years so this was a very nice way to break the ice again. Top drop too, almost on par with The Bruery. Definitely a recommendation from us.

Evil Twin ‘Aún Más A Jesús’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“On a pilgrimage for immortal craft beer we tripped on these heavenly drops of amazingly overwhelming aromas, a thick fudge-like black body, pitch black color and obviously only made in limited amounts. And the taste… even more jesus!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: As black as the ace of spades and complimented by a finger of tightly held dark brown head. Steady reduction and carefully placed rings mark the glass as it subsides.

Aroma: Extremely rich and strident. It’s intriguing coz at its core it has serious contempt for the olfactories but as we push through the barrier the heavily caramelized and residual sugars from the Port barrels are uncovered. Working backwards from there we get dense molasses, Galliano-like licorice/aniseed, damp oak, old leather, iodine, dark chocolate and salty/soy sauce. Oooopht!

Flavour: Ok that contempt we were mentioning before…it’s back again. Probably a bit too much for us too. In this day and age of big yet sweet pastry Stouts we feel these proper bad ass Impy Stouts have had their time. It’s just harsh, boozy, overly rich with molasses, licorice and leather and lacking any form of sweetness that the Port/barrels should’ve been bringing.

Mouthfeel: Oily, warming and slightly astringent. Low Co2, medium-full body. The 12% ABV shows through too much in our opinion.

Overall: It’s a great idea but the execution is a bit askew. It’s just too raw, rugged and aggressive and lacks cohesion. Not sold on it.

Ridgeway Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Imperial Russian Stouts historically tend to be declared in the range of 9 to 10% alcohol by volume, at 10% Ridgeway’s is at the top of that range. What differentiates the style from simply a strong stout or porter is that extended ageing and perhaps a little judicious infection before bottling which makes them considerably more vinous and sharp than an export stout so there is MUCH more of a wine character than you normally get in a strong ale. Not soured but just that little nod towards a lambic beer. Very roasty and very bitter. That bitterness mellows over time in the bottle but if you are lucky enough to get an Imperial Russian on draught it will be full on. The style is not intended to be overtly hoppy once settled but obviously with so many hops used the draught experience will have something on the hop front that won’t be there in a bottled version.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: No where near dark enough for us. It displays a Porter-esque complexion – black centre with a mahogany gradient towards the edges. Short tan head which quickly fades and some spotty lacing as we go.

Aroma: We’re always happy to concede that traditional English RIS are not like the modern American versions but this really does seem to lack the usual largesse we come to expect from the style. Thankfully as it settles the bottom end develops some robust notes of licorice, carob, cocoa powder, coffee, spice and a hearty roast so all is not lost!

Flavour: Similar to the aroma in terms of its apparent lack of intensity and bottom end. We will give it one tick of approval for avoiding those acetaldehyde-like flavours that seem to creep into a lot of English RIS. We’re picking up mainly licorice, cooking chocolate, cocoa powder, mild coffee and roast which rounds out on a nice bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Too light and slippery for our liking. The medium body does help though. Low-ish Co2. The 10% ABV is well concealed.

Overall: This is the 2020 vintage so we thought a bit of age may add to its character. Maybe it did maybe it didn’t but alls we know is this release only, and it didn’t really inspire.

Slow Lane ‘Entirety’ BA Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Russian Imperial Stouts are known to be the strongest of all stouts. Originally brewed in London in the late 18th century for export to Russia, they were a favourite of Catherine the Great, the Russian empress at the time. Entirety is big and intense, with rich roast and chocolate flavours. We used an extended seven hour boil to give it a very full bodied mouthfeel. It was then aged in bourbon barrels for eight months adding more bold flavours.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a big and loosely held three finger head. It deconstructs rather quickly and leaves scarce lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Our first question is where the bloody hell are the bourbon barrels? We only just reviewed the non barrel aged version a month or so ago so it’s still pretty fresh in our minds. Although that version scored highly (as it should have) this so called barrel aged version should’ve been bringing the best of, plus the unmistakable and lustful characters of the bourbon/barrels. But it ain’t!

Flavour: Beers like this really get on our nerves. The intensity and quality is a side issue but if a brewery is going to market a barrel aged version of a beer that’s already in their range then at least try to impart some of the barrel qualities into the beer. We literally get zero bourbon or oak. This on top of what seems to be a poorly brewed RIS. We’re thinking this batch (or this tinny) has been infected.

Mouthfeel: Kinda thin, a little fizzy, medium carbonation. One upside is the 11% ABV being well concealed.

Overall: We hadn’t even had a shot at the price point either but we’re now certain this beer has an infection(s). No bourbon and or barrel qualities, it’s slightly metallic and has what appears to be an acetaldehyde infection. Sheesh, this is horrific.

Deeds ‘Desperate Invocation’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Your wakefulness outlasted the fire and now the deep, cold night has come. After a blind stumble and no shelter found, you drop to your knees howling a desperate invocation. Begging, bartering, and bellowing to anyone or anything that can hear, or listen. As the frost creeps towards your lungs, you see a shimmer. Has something answered your call? Wiping away the sleet, your eyes narrow. It looks like…”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pours as black as midnight with a quickly fading dark brown head. All that’s left is a bubbling island in the middle so minimal lace is expected.

Aroma: Phwoar! We sound like a broken record here but hot damn this BA Imperial Stout is on par with some of the best from the USA. The way they’ve got the gorgeous bourbon and heavily roasted malts singing the same hymn is simply superb. Throw on top the additions of vanilla and coconut and we have the making of a masterpiece. Not to mention the rich chocolate, molasses and leather.

Flavour: We knew it was going to be mind-blowing so we’re skipping that part and delving straight in. We’re tasting the whole beer upfront – it comes on with creamy vanilla and toasted coconut, sweet and spicy bourbon, oak, heavily roasted malts, dark chocolate, molasses, licorice and coffee. And the best part? It all then rolls into a big, roasted and warming finish.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily and well rounded. Full bodied, mild-moderate Co2. This is the big one – 14.6% ABV…where the hell is it hiding? Incredible.

Overall: There’s only one more thing Deeds could do to make this beer perfect and that is to release them in bottles. If they did that we would fill our cellars with them. We would also be broke but hey, we’d have excellent beer at the ready! World class stuff.

Duncan’s ‘Maple Scorched Almond’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“NEW Maple Scorched Almond, our latest Imperial Pastry Stout. And who doesn’t love a scorched almond?.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with two fingers of light brown head emerging on top. It slowly peels off and manages a decent lace as we go.

Aroma: It’s been a long time between drinks for us and Duncan’s so we thought we’d re-break the ice with this eye catching Stout. It has one thing in spades which we absolutely go nuts (😉) for…smoked almonds. It gives the beer, as a whole, a touch of smokiness which works beautifully. The maple side is a tad lackluster but it’s definitely there to be picked up. Nice and robust Stout base to it as well.

Flavour: Wow it’s unexpectedly smooth on entry. Tonnes of chocolate and cocoa then the light smoky notes kick into gear early in the mid. Roasted almonds, charred malts and espresso coffee are nicely countered by the gentle maple sweetness. Can’t help but taste a touch of vanilla in here too. It all lands on a sturdy and slightly burnt finish with lingering smoked almonds.

Mouthfeel: A touch too thin and slippery for our liking. There’s a slightly lifted Co2 and the 10% ABV hides away rather well.

Overall: As a whole it’s a pretty good pastry Stout. Definitely good for one though…the flavours get a little overbearing by the end. How do we say this…two slightly hesitant thumbs up? 🤷

Omnipollo X 3 Sons ‘Noa Scoop’ Imperial Stout

Rating:

“In collaboration with our friends at Florida based 3 Sons, we have a Strawberry Pecan Mud Cake Imperial Stout. Picture chocolate covered strawberries suspended in a viscous stout base, this beer pours almost as thick as the dreamy and creamy dessert that inspired it.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a short brown head which dissipates pretty quickly. It’s left with zero head so zero lacing is expected.

Aroma: Sweet baby Jesus what do we have here?! The memory bank is instantly flooded with images of strawberry ice cream cones and gelato. It’s actually impressive how they’ve managed to incorporate the waffle-flavoured cone in here too. There’s also more subtle nudges of cherry candy, pink lemonade syrup, vanilla essence, brown sugar, milk bar and just sheer happiness in spades.

Flavour: Wow OK the Impy Stout side of it makes its entrance. And it’s a big one – super rich molasses, licorice, dark chocolate and cocoa crashes through the barrier but there’s seldom a moment when the decadent and creamy strawberry isn’t there for added self indulgence. A delicious roasted note kicks off late in the piece then lays down for the deliciously creamy, sweet yet mildly roasty finish.

Mouthfeel: Thick, oily and warming. Low-ish Co2 and full body. The 11% ABV is fairly well behaved for its size.

Overall: So damn good. Tell ya what it’d want to be considering the hefty price tag that accompanies it. Take nothing aware from it though…it’s a highly enjoyable drop.

Fontaine ‘Looking Down The Barrel’ BA Imperial Stout

Rating:

“This imperial stout is our big gun. Aged in Australian, single malt whisky barrels for 8 months, then fresh barrels for a further 6. This results in a deep, rich whisky taste that’s extra smooth. Complimentary dark chocolate & vanilla notes give texture, balanced by a lasting finish. If you like whisky & you like big beer, this one’s for you.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black pour with a short dark brown head which quickly retreats to the rim. It leaves a reasonable lace considering the lack of retention.

Aroma: Oopht! Boilermaker or whiskey barrel aged Stout? Once its given a few minutes to settle the sweet vanilla scents come to the fore and really put the brakes on. The intensity and the burn is still there but the damp oak, old leather, whiskey, spice, decadent toffee and burnt caramel levels it all out. A really lovely aroma in the end.

Flavour: Similar reaction to the aroma. It hits the palate like a tonne of bricks but the way it slowly tapers off is noteworthy. It’s just all whiskey upfront; rich and warming dark fruits, toffee and chocolate with lighter notes of toasted oak, spicy rye and sherry. Again, that vanilla sweetness joins the party a little late and becomes a crucial counter balance to the fruity, rich and chocolatey finish.

Mouthfeel: Big, dense and warming. Co2 is pretty low and the body is full and muscly. The 11% ABV is definitely pronounced but expected at this size.

Overall: We weren’t too sure what to expect here. These guys are still very green so we must admit we’re pleasantly surprised. Yes it’s ridiculously rich and decadent but it all seems to come together well. We’re keen to see where these guys go to from here.

5 Barrel ‘Hero Of The People’ R.I.S – Chocolate and Chilli edition

Rating:

“The Russian Imperial Stout is the king of stout styles and is a favourite with craft brewers around the world. They’re dark, high in alcohol, generally hoppy and are full of rich flavors like dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and molasses. These stouts age well and can be cellared – if you can stop yourself from drinking them fresh!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Solid black with a short tan overlay. Steady reduction but minimal lace is left on the glass as we hook in.

Aroma: Similar to the chocolate and peanut butter version as in this also seems to have a sturdy R.I.S base but the adjuncts – chocolate and chilli – appear to be MIA. More so the chilli component as the rich roasted malts do offer a robust chocolate profile. We’re also picking up subtle vanilla, five spice, licorice and a somewhat nutty quality in support.

Flavour: If we were blindfolded and had to guess the adjuncts we’d be saying dark chocolate and sea salt. At least the chocolate is present, as for the chilli… completely MIA. Maybe just the slightest hint of heat but that could be emphasized by the 10% ABV. Thankfully, the classic R.I.S characters of coffee, burnt chocolate, licorice and ash saves the day and finishes off in style.

Mouthfeel: Big and brawny, medium-full body with mild-moderate Co2. The 10% ABV is pretty well behaved for its size.

Overall: It’s really surprising to see such mediocre dark beer from these guys. We’ve had some top notch stouts from them before so we can’t understand how an ingredient like chilli can’t be brought through at all?! Heres hoping the coffee & vanilla version blows us out of the water.

5 Barrel ‘Hero Of The People’ R.I.S – Peanut Butter & Chocolate edition

Rating:

“The Russian Imperial Stout is the king of stout styles and is a favourite with craft brewers around the world. They’re dark, high in alcohol, generally hoppy and are full of rich flavors like dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits and molasses. These stouts age well and can be cellared – if you can stop yourself from drinking them fresh!”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Hits the glass with an impenetrable black body and forms a finger of light brown head which gradually peels off. Excellent lace work as we imbibe.

Aroma: The intense roasted and burnt notes of the base RIS come through immediately; espresso, molasses, charred wood, ash, dark chocolate and subtle hints of vanilla and unripened cherry. As impressive a RIS base this is we must admit the peanut butter aspect is completely MIA. It’s actually baffling considering how strong peanut butter as a raw ingredient can actually be. It’s like they totally forgot to put it in the brew!

Flavour: We were clinching on to a bit of hope that the peanut butter would reveal itself here but unfortunately that’s not to be. The upside is the RIS base is chock full of dark chocolate, molasses, espresso and charred malts with lighter notes of charcoal, nutty malt (the closest thing to peanut butter thus far), vanilla and burnt milk chocolate to finish. Good length on it too.

Mouthfeel: Dense and viscous. Full bodied, low Co2 and the 10% ABV is fairly well buried.

Overall: We were bummed that we couldn’t get our hands on the regular unflavoured version but we’re sat here thinking we don’t even need it now as this appears to be it. There is actually zero peanut butter here. We’re even thinking that they may have canned the wrong version?! We’ll know more when we crack the next one we guess.

Alesmith ‘Speedway’ Mexican Chocolate & Coffee Imperial Stout

Rating:

“For this special edition of our signature imperial stout we were inspired to feature ingredients from our neighbors to the south. We used the comforting trio of Mexican dark chocolate, sea salt, and Mexican coffee to give the beer delectable notes of cacao and dark fruit, a subtle touch of cinnamon, and a kiss of roasty earthiness.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with a short-ish brown cap which holds together pretty well. It slowly disappears but still manages a respectful lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Hot damn these guys know how to brew a good Stout! Although subtle the saltiness finds its way into almost everything. Salted dark chocolate is the most dominant but it also gets into the coffee, licorice and caramel. At times it almost gives off a tequila-like quality which is really interesting. Definitely some peppery spice, nutmeg, chilli and vanilla to ram it home. Gorgeous!

Flavour: Hhhmmm it’s big and it’s tasty but it doesn’t have the finesse and balance that it offered on the nose. It has to be said that it seems a bit muddled here. We get flashes of salted dark chocolate amongst the messy roasted malt and coffee notes then some astringent booze, slightly sharp peppery spice and chilli developing late in the piece. Kinda roasty and smoky finish to wrap it up.

Mouthfeel: Slick, oily and warming but it’s not as dense as we’d anticipated. There is a bit of slippery-ness to it. The Co2 and the 12% ABV somewhat corrects it though.

Overall: Unfortunately these pastry variants of Alesmith’s much coveted ‘Speedway Stout’ just haven’t found the mark for us. They’re not bad by any stretch of the imagination they just don’t wow us like we thought they would. Can’t win em all.

Slow Lane ‘Entirety’ Russian Imperial Stout

Rating:

“Russian Imperial Stouts are known to be the strongest of all stouts. Originally brewed in London in the late 18th century for export to Russia, they were a favourite of Catherine the Great, the Russian empress at the time. Entirety is big, bold and intense, with rich roast and chocolate flavours. We used an extended five hour boil to give it a very full bodied mouthfeel.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dense black with a thumb of dark tan foam resting on top. The head falls away and settles at the rim but it still manages a cascading lace down the walls of the glass.

Aroma: Interesting. Super rich and hedonistic. Tonnes of charred malt and heavy roasted characters, leather, molasses, sweet espresso, licorice, ash and yet it’s nicely offset by a smooth velvety quality we can best describe as musk. Kind of a fruity dark chocolate develops as it settles in. At first we were a bit unsure but it has all come together nicely.

Flavour: Holy moly this is delicious. It’s literally one step away from being edible. Insanely deep and complex but astonishingly smooth notes of chocolate, espresso, ash, charred malts and licorice are brought to us with a notable warmth from the booze. As it progresses it gets a tad sharper, much more roasty and burnt as it slowly shifts into a heavily charred finish with plenty of dark chocolate and espresso on the rear.

Mouthfeel: Beer soup. Incredibly dense and velvety, full bodied and finely carbonated. The 11% ABV has no qualms revealing itself either.

Overall: These guys have proven themselves to be the real deal. We’re about 6 or 7 in now and we don’t think we’ve had one sub par beer from them. They’re on point every time. Kudos, Slow Lane…onwards and upwards!