Archive for the category “Imperial Stout”

Vampire Slayer – Clown Shoes Beer

vampire_bttl10% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market in Sacramento ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into mini globe glasses.

Vampire Slayer pours midnight black with a fun-sized, caramel candy-colored head and intricate spider web lacing on the glass.  This imperial stout from Ipswich, Massachusetts-based Clown Shoes smells of smoldering wood (the malts were smoked with hickory and ash), caramel, and a little milk chocolate.  The first swallow is rich and chocolate-y up front, but that fades into a long and bitter finish dominated by burnt wood and coffee grounds.  It’s a dark and delicious beer, and a masterful storyteller at that – on later swallows, caramel and root beer flavors emerge on the front end, while firewood and bitter coffee stay planted on the finish.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Vampire_ClownShoes

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Beer Geek Vanilla Shake – Mikkeller

vanilla_bttl13% ABV
Purchased at LowBrau ($/ oz. pour) and served in tulip glasses.

Beer Geek Vanilla Shake pours an ebony black with a vaporous brown head, and emits a gigantic candy shop nose of vanilla, milk chocolate, candied nuts, black coffee, sweet breads, and caramel.  There is a massive sweetness on the first swallow as well, including flavors of vanilla beans, coffee grounds, and melted chocolate, although it’s a little smoother and more refined than the nose would have you believe.  It has the overall taste of coffee-vanilla syrup, or a coffee crème brulee, finishing with some pecan and wood bitterness that asserts itself more on subsequent swallows.  Mikkeller has brewed a beer that is very tasty in small servings, but might be a bit too much for large pours and solo bottle shares.

toasts-4   4 Toasts

mikeller_vanilla

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Moscow – Midnight Sun Brewing Company

moscow_bttl

11% ABV; 45 IBUs
Purchased at Davis Beer Shoppe ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into globe glasses.

This Russian Imperial Stout brewed with rye from Anchorage-based brewers Midnight Sun pours an olive black with a quickly departing caramel-brown head and a body thick as motor oil.  The nose of booze-soaked dark chocolate practically leaps out of the glass, although black licorice, lumber, and molasses aromas are present when you drill down further.  Moscow offers velvety and decadent dark roasted malts on first swallow, with flavors ranging from rich chocolate to boozy barrel wood to fresh-roasted espresso beans.  It could have been an overwhelming beer, but it’s all given balance and texture on the aftertaste by the presence of peppery rye grains, and a coffee bitterness that lingers pleasurably on the palette.

 

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Moscow_MidnightSun

 

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

Black’s Dawn – Cismontane Brewing Company

cismontane-blacksdawn_bttl8.5% ABV, 50 IBUs, 30 SRM
Purchased at City Beer Store in San Francisco ($5.99/16 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

This imperial coffee stout brewed by Rancho Santa Margarita-based Cismontane pours a licorice black with a bubbly brown sugar head and a nose of chocolate-covered coffee beans, caramel, wood, and dark fruits.  Black’s Dawn leads with strong coffee and hay, with mocha coffee and a prominent bitterness coming to dominate the back end.  The finish is pretty clean, with neither the syrupy residue you often find in strong coffee beers, nor the velvety and decadent texture of many imperial stouts.  Instead, the lasting impression is of wood, smoke, and a profound coffee and hop bitterness, along with touches of vanilla and an unusual grape or berry note that I can’t quite place. 

toasts-3.5    3.5 Toasts

Cismontane_BlacksDawn

 toasts-3.5   3.5 Toasts

 

Serpent’s Stout – The Lost Abbey

serpent_stout_bttl11.0% ABV

Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($12.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into globe glasses..

This imperial stout pours a midnight black with a medium-sized, brown sugar-colored head, and a beckoning nose of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, port grapes, and a little licorice root.  The profound aroma suggests little in the way of sweetness, and the first swallow follows suit, offering bitter dark chocolate, dark-roasted coffee, a pronounced wood character, rich loam, and a fairly heavy hop profile.  Mostly black coffee flavors are present throughout, but a bit more black forest cake-style sweetness emerges as it warms in the glass.  More barrel wood comes through than booziness, even at 11% ABV, and there is nothing silly or gimmicky about this beer – it’s a heaven for fans of big stouts.


toasts-4.5
   4.5 Toasts


SerpentsStout

 toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts

 

Ale Epiteios – Left Coast Brewing Company – SoCal Taster

10% ABV
Purchased at Small Bar in San Diego and served in goblet glasses.

This barrel-aged Imperial Stout pours jet black with a miniscule, sawdust-colored head, and a nose of coffee, cocoa nibs, and fermented grapes that suggests a red wine-and-chocolate vibe.  Instead, blackstrap molasses, black licorice, and bit of booziness hit you on the first sip, and yet the flavors are surprisingly balanced and mild.  More cocoa notes come in on subsequent swallows, but the alcohol aftertaste remains while never straining the barrel-wood backbone.  Ale Epiteios has a light mouthfeel given the strong dark flavors, and those promised red wine flavors emerge as the brew warms, but I would have appreciated a little less sweetness and a little more complexity. 

   4 Toasts

   4 Toasts

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