Archive for the tag “Imperial Stout”

Tweak – Avery Brewing Company

tweak17.89% ABV
Purchased at Curtis Park Market ($12.99/12 oz. bottle) and poured into mini goblet glasses.

This “stout with coffee added aged in bourbon barrels” pours a desolate black with a tight, brown sugar-colored head.  Tweak blasts out an intensely sweet nose of chocolate syrup and black coffee, with alcohol singe and barrel wood bringing up the rear (it’s very similar to the Black Tuesday we reviewed earlier this month).  The first sip is not as sweet as expected, but it packs a mighty punch – dark chocolate, coffee grounds, sawdust, vanilla, and whiskey-soaked wood chips crowd the palate, leaving an almost chile-like burn on the tongue. It’s a beer that goes directly to your dome, almost too strong for its own good, but also too big and bold and challenging to dismiss or ignore.

  4 Toasts


   4 Toasts


Black Metal 2013 – Jester King Brewing

blkmtl_bttl9.3% ABV, 1.085 OG, 1.015 FG, 44 IBUs
Purchased at Final Gravity ($11.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This imperial stout brewed with farmhouse yeast from Austin-based Jester King has been aging in our “cellar” for nearly two years, and it pours a licorice black with a marshmallow-y, toasted brown head. Rich coffee and chocolate aromas welcome you on the nose, along with wood, licorice, and a citrus smell that eventually comes to dominate; the overall effect is similar to chocolate-covered oranges. That orange-y bitterness is also present on the first swallow, as are bitter chocolate and kindling, with those richer chocolate and coffee flavors barely peeking out from the background.  After aging, Black Metal is still a big, dark boozer with a light body and some intriguing bitterness, but it’s also one-note, and it was a lot better fresh.

   3 Toasts



   3.5 Toasts


2013 Black Tuesday – The Bruery


18.9% ABV
Purchased through The Bruery online shop and poured into mini tasting glasses.

This already legendary bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout from Orange County-based The Bruery pours a midnight black with a vaporous, light brown head.  It smacks you with hard alcohol aromas upon the first crack of the bottle, but chocolate, coffee and wet wood notes emerge when you dial in further.  An eye popper upon first swallow, with the flavors working on two different levels – throat-clearing booziness on one end of the palette, spectacularly strong and nuanced chocolate and coffee on the other.  Black Tuesday is a masterful slow-sipper, and not as grossly sweet as some of The Bruery’s other big-ass brews.  The beer works wonders if you take your time with it, growing a little more peppery on the aftertaste, and with vanilla bean and wood growing stronger the longer it warms.

   4.5 Toasts


   4.5 Toasts


Black Belle Imperial Stout – Blackstone Brewing Company


blackbelle_bttl10.2% ABV
Gifted by Nick M. and poured into globe glasses.

This imperial stout “infused with cacao nibs and aged in bourbon barrels” was brewed by Nashville, Tennessee-based Blackstone, and it pours a thick, oily black with a sliver of a brown head.  Black Belle has an exceptionally rich and dessert-like nose of dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, toasted marshmallow, cola, and some booze.  The alcohol is even more upfront on the first swallow, but the magic of Black Belle is that it expertly manages to offer all of the flavors of hard alcohol (i.e., chocolate and coffee take more of a supporting role to vanilla and toast) without any discomforting throat burn.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts



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


toasts-5-small   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


 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.

   4.5 Toasts


 toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


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