Posts Tagged ‘imperial stout’

Peace Tree Imperial Stout

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Tonight I am going to try the new imperial stout from Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville, Iowa.

The Imperial Stout pours a deep, dark black color, with a generous amount of creamy, sepia-tone head. The nose is very light. A bit of caramel malt, and some roast malt adds a burnt character. There is a bit of a fruity yeast aroma as well.

The flavor is much cleaner than you would expect from an imperial stout. The malt flavor is sweet to the point of being cloying. Much too much caramel malt and far too little roasted barley makes this beer just sweet and not very stout. The only strong flavor is the yeast fruitiness, entirely inappropriate for the style.

This beer is lacking any real character, and the sweetness makes it unpalatable. Do yourself a favor and just get the Gumbo Stout or the Imperial IPA instead.

-Peace Tree Imperial Stout

2.8 (4-7-5-1-11)

Sprecher Tasting Notes!

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Astute readers may remember that I said I had lost the notes I took on the Sprecher Brewery tour. Well guess what? Cleaning out my disc golf bag I found them! That’s certainly a strange place to put them, but that’s where both of my “lost” pages were squirreled away.

First up, the Mai Bock. This blonde beer has a slight amber tint. There is barely any haze below some creamy white head. The aroma is bright with malty caramel and bready notes. The taste is dry and the body thin, so immediately this seems almost flavorless. Upon inspection you may note the hint of a dirty, earthy hop flavor that reminds me somewhat of the hops in PBR.

Next I tried the IPA², their double India pale ale. This one is a pale caramel amber color and is almost clear. The head is creamy and off white. There is a slightly sweet, delicate floral hop nose that comes through as lilacs and roses. The flavor is rich with earthy hops. On the sides of the tongue a somewhat one-dimensional bitterness disappears quickly, leaving a lingering malty sweetness.

I went on to have the Abbey Triple. This golden yellow beer has some turbidity and some white head. The aroma is exactly that of one of Elvis’s favorite sandwiches, peanut butter and banana. I would hardly believe it transcribing these notes now if I hadn’t written, “No foolin. An Elvis sandwich. Weird.” The flavor is strongly of bananas with a bit of clean malt and clove character coming through. This one has a lot of unfermented sugars remaining giving it an over the top sweetness that turns cloying. I’m not really sure why all these breweries think that you make a Belgian-style tripel with hefeweizen yeast, but this is yet another one. (Brewers: go with Wyeast 1762 or White Labs 500, please!)

Then, at the behest of the brewers, I tried Hop on Top, their new extra pale ale. They were soliciting comments, so presumably this was still in beta, and it showed. Brilliantly clear and the color of straw, this beer has only a hint of white head. The hop aroma is grassy, sharp, and green (the character of fresh, unkilned hops). The first thing I notice on the taste is that the body is pathetically thin and the beer entirely lacks malt flavor. There is a strong grassy hop taste, but this takes on the almost medicinal character of hop extract. Watery and thin, this beer is actually very unpleasant to drink.

To wash that taste out I had their Russian Imperial Stout. It is pitch black with a big pillow of tan head (that doesn’t quite last long enough). The nose is mild, earthy, and dry, with toast and a good amount of coffee. The roasty and robust flavor, strong with coffee (though not overpowering), is almost meaty. A light sweetness and plenty of carbonation activity keep this richly flavored beer from being oppressive. Sprightly, like Chris Farley.

+Sprecher Russian Imperial Stout

3.8 (4-7-8-4-15)

+Sprecher IPA²

3.3 (4-7-6-3-13)

+/-Sprecher Abbey Triple

2.8 (3-7-5-2-11)

+/-Sprecher Mai Bock

2.6 (3-7-4-2-10)

--Sprecher Hop on Top

1.5 (1-5-3-1-5)

Bell’s Expedition Stout

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Bell's Expedition StoutFrom Bell’s Brewery up in Kalamazoo, Michigan I’m having a bottle of the Expedition Stout, their imperial. As I understand it this is basically twice the recipe for their Kalamazoo Stout, so it will be interesting to see how it compares with my rating of that beer.

The Expedition Stout has a pillow of thick, frothy bronze head atop a nearly pitch black beer. Holding it up to the light I see it has a tinge of a deep dark caramel or amber. This beer is richly aromatic, with the smell of dark roast coffee beans and mocha. Just a hint of sweetness on the nose, as dark chocolate. A sweet alcoholic complexity as well, like brandy. Just a bit of raisiny fruit.

The taste is rich, full and sweet, but neither cloying nor overpowering. Plenty of dark chocolate and caramel flavor, with a background of well-done toast. As it sits on the tongue the alcohol comes out just a bit: delicately hinting at strength, like brandy. The caramel recedes and in its place is strong black coffee, a dark South American roast. Remarkably thick, this stout is somehow still playful.

More action every time I set down the glass, the Expedition leaves a strong lacing. Wow this is good. I wish my roommate hadn’t just lit that cigarette, but it pretty much overpowers the smell drifting in my door anyway.

++Bell’s Expedition Stout

4.3 (5-8-9-4-17)

DarkLord Day!

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

edit – Well somehow I missed that DLD has branched off to its own website, So the Internet confirms that it was this past weekend.

2009-04-25-meThe last Saturday in April is traditionally known as DarkLord Day. This is because the release date for and all sales of DarkLord occur on this day. I was informed that TODAY is the last Saturday in April, so I have to assume that today is DarkLord Day, though you’d never know by visiting the Three Floyds Brewery website – it hasn’t been updated in over a year. Well, as I couldn’t make it to Munster, I decided to open up a bottle of last year’s vintage.

DarkLord is a Russian imperial stout. This style classification does for stout what imperial IPA does for India pale ale: turns it up to eleven. More properly, it did for stout what India pale ale did for pale ale: gave the beer the legs needed to handle a long voyage out of England, this time to the court of Catherine the Great. As with all historically bigger styles craft brewers have taken it to an extreme. DarkLord, for instance, is around 13 percent alcohol, though you’d hardly notice it for all the flavor they have packed in there.

A big beer like this you must treat as you would a bottle of fine wine. Don’t drink it cold as you will lose all the flavor. Slightly chilled is best, at what we call ‘cellar temperature’. Pour yourself a snifter then give it a few minutes to breathe. Swirl it and appreciate the coating the beer leaves on the glass.

2009-04-25-lordDarkLord is nearly pitch black. Only a bit of caramel brown is visible around the few bubbles. The hint of sienna head that forms when pouring quickly dissipates. While carbonated, it is not too effervescent and the syrupy thickness does not abide head. The nose is rich with roast malt character: dark Columbian coffee is most prominent, mixing with the aroma of bitter chocolate, toffee, caramel, as well as a fruitiness of prunes and raisins. A beer like this I could sit here and smell all day. It’s been about a half hour so far and I’ve yet to take a sip. But in the name of journalism I must proceed.

As always my first reaction is surprise at how mild it is despite intense flavor. That’s the paradox of the DarkLord: full of woe and fury but never releasing too much at any one time.

The flavor as well is dominated by the roast malt. Coffee stands out at first, accompanied by chocolate, milk, dark, and bitter. The fruit note is perhaps more clear on the taste, with raisins, dates, prunes, and black caps. The Lord is a fountain of flavor: caramel, toast, toffee, vanilla, coffee, roast, maybe even a hint of bourbon (though I know there’s none in there). One thing melds into another on this diabolical ride.

Very thick and somewhat sweet, yet light-years from cloying. This beer is simply fantastic.

++Three Floyds DarkLord 2008

4.4 (4-9-8-5-18)

(P.S. if you were at DarkLord Day and have an extra bottle I will trade for one of last year’s and/or homebrew)

Stout Week: Bourbon County Vertical

Friday, November 28th, 2008

This evening, after the family Thanksgiving celebration, Matt and I had a mini vertical tasting. This is when you open several vintages of the same beer and compare. We are both fans of the special reserve beers from Goose Island, so we’ve got a few still around from last year. Perhaps at some point we can do a vertical with Matt’s Matildas.

Tonight we had a 2007 and a 2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. This is a serious imperial stout, probably weighing in around 10 or 11 percent alcohol, before it is aged in bourbon casks for several months, bumping it up to 13%. The story goes that every year when this one is bottled the Goose Island top brass comes around to the packaging line to ensure they get their cases.

Bourbon County pours a thick hazelnut black with no head, just a few stray bubbles. Make sure you drink this out of a thin, clear, ideally stemmed glass, as it will reward you with an enchanting copper coating. The aroma is sweet and playful, with notes of black licorice, light oak, and some bourbon. The 2008 has a sharp alcoholic nose as well as something that smells like twizzlers. The roast aroma is more prominent in the 2007, which has an overall rounder, more robust nose.

Bourbon and roast malt ride the egg-nog thick wave of this ale. Caramel, licorice, and some anise round out the flavor. The 2008 is again just a bit too boozy. The palate is chewy and sweet but not at all cloying, and somewhat smoother on the 2007.

Overall both vintages seem very similar. Where there are differences I attribute them to the varied fermentation of the beer in each batch rather than to aging. Somewhat more care was taken with the 2007 batch, and whether it was the fermentation or barrel aging, it did not pick up the unpleasant sharpness of its younger brother.

++Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2007

RateBeer: 4.2 (4-9-8-4-17)

+Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2008

RateBeer: 3.9 (4-8-7-4-16)