Tag Archives: Imperial Stout

Brew Review: Dark Truth

8 Nov

Brew:  Dark Truth

Brewed by:  Boulevard Brewing Co. (Kansas City, MO)

Style: Imperial Stout (9.7% ABV)


Boulevard is a very consistent brewery in my mind.  I have had a few of their offerings previously and been very happy with them.  The Dark Truth is their stout that is actually a year rounder.  Something you don’t necessarily find at most breweries.  Usually the stouts are left for seasonal releases or limited stuff.  My guess is that’s because people don’t really want to drink a super heavy dark beer in the hot summer months.  I also think that boulevard has the capacity to brew a lot so they are able to put this big boy out year round.  This is a somewhat fresh bottle so we will see how this goes, I opened this beer on 8-7-12 and I don’t know exact bottle date but I have a feeling its about 1-3 months old at this point.

Dark Truth pours out dark.  Enough said on that.  Its dark deep and lightless.  Exactly like an imperial stout should be.  There rises a huge mocha head from the top of the beer, the head is super thick with tiny tight bubbles.   The foam recedes slowly leaving great lacing and a really fantastic looking brew.  This is a perfect example of what a stout should look like. 

The aroma is interesting, I can tell right away that this is a fresh imperial stout.  There are hops right off the bat, earthy not much else but you can tell they are trying to push their way out from the huge mound of grain that was dumped on top.  There is lots of chocolate followed by sweet malts.  Not a ton of roast at this point.  There is also a hint of booze that floats around there.   a pretty solid aroma for the beer, nothing really fancy but I got everything I needed in chocolate, hops and some roast.

The taste was full and filling.  There are dark fruits, the hops are still present and provide a bitterness on the end of the sip that lingers.  There is a dark roast that wasn’t evident in the aroma that mixed with the hops to create that bitterness.  Along with the roast was dark chocolate notes.  There is that slight alcohol presence again that warms or numbs, depending on how you want to think about, the mouth and belly as you drink. 

This was still a really fresh bottle of the Dark Truth, I am happy I got a 4-pack of this as it will develop over the years and be a really nice treat in a year or two for a cool night.  The hops were still very present and I like roast with coffee and chocolate in my stouts.  Not bad in any way but kind of like LeBron it’ll take a few years for this beer to achieve greatness.


Final Grade: B

Brew Review: Old Heathen

24 Oct

Brew: Old Heathen

Brewed by: Weyerbacher Brewing Co. (Easton, PA)

Style: Imperial Stout (8.0% ABV)


Weyerbacher has two similar imperial stouts that are pretty much available whenever you want them in the Twin Cities.  Both the Old Heathen and Heresy are imperial stouts with the only difference that I can tell is that the Heresy is aged in oak barrels.  So I picked up both recently and the old Heathen is the one I popped open first.  Still haven’t gotten to the Heresy but that will be coming up soon I think.  Weyerbacher, out of Pennsylvania, has impressed me with what I have experienced from them so far.  Their Blasphemy and Tiny are both really good brews and I was excited to try one of their more regular offerings in the Old Heathen.

The Heathen poured out a solid black.  No light escapes and looks like most other imperial stouts.  A tight head with small compact bubbles rose up from the beer, it was the color of a mocha or dark khaki.  It rose up about a half inch, a bit smaller than I would ideally want but still a really good looking imperial stout.

The aroma of this brew was excellent.  I picked up toffee, vanilla and roasted grains right away.  I could smell this beast from far away, I didn’t even have to get close to it to really smell the goodness.  The right amount of sweet balanced with the char and bitterness of roast of the grains.  There is a faint detection of dark fruits and a hint of hop presence but those are minor players at this point.

The first sip is great.  This imperial stout is thick and chewy.  You can tell there are pounds and pounds of ingredients in this recipe.  Nothing light drinking about it at all.  Just what I wanted.  There is a ton of dark chocolate on the first sip. The chocolate lends in bitterness to the sip and combined with the roasted aspects of the grains that bitterness shines through as well.  Not a ‘bitter’ beer as you might think but there is that presence with every sip that there is a sharper tang hiding in the background waiting for you.  There are also flavors of coffee that come through as well.  Those fruity aromas that I picked up earlier didn’t really go anywhere.  This beer was mainly roast and chocolate bitterness.

The amount of chocolate in the taste was awesome and really took me by surprise and I didn’t expect that at any point until it hit me in the face.  The sweetness of the massive amount of malts was definitely balanced by the bitterness from the chocolate, coffee and roasted grains.  I didn’t pick up much by way of hops.  I don’t know the bottling date or anything about this brew so I couldn’t tell you anything about how old it was in that regard but I would wager it had maybe 3-6 months on it at this point.  Not a ton but enough for the hops to start their decline in power in the beer if there were many to begin with.  Since this is widely available, I can easily see this becoming a beer I always have in my fridge.  If you haven’t had it and not that its getting colder I would try to snag some next time your off to the store.


Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Satin Solstice

15 Oct

Brew: Satin Solstice

Brewed by: Central Waters Brewing Company (Amherst, WI)

Style: Imperial Stout (7.5% ABV)

The only other review I have done for Central Waters from Wisconsin has been the bourbon barrel aged stout which makes me wonder if they just took the Satin Solstice and aged it in barrels to come up with that beer.  Legit question that I really have no way to answer.  Could write them a postcard or something I suppose but I’d rather just have another beer.   With the excellent result of the bourbon barrel stout I was hoping that this brew would be top notch as well.  Central Waters has only impressed so far.

Satin Solstice poured out black as night with a hint of ruby red coming through the sides.  A little thin looking for an imperial stout but nonetheless it was a good looking brew.  There was a cap of off-white head that rested lightly on the top of the beer, nothing really impressive about the foam.  Nothing really impressive about the look so far in general, doesn’t look thick or syrupy in any way.

The aroma of the brew was sort of basic.  It had a lot of roast and burnt grains in there followed by a hint of alcohol.  For not being a very high ABV beer I was surprised that I could pick out any booze in the smell.  The malts mixed with some chocolate as well as I got further in there with my nose.  No mention of hops in my notes which makes me think that this bottle might have been a bit older and I have no way of knowing since I don’t know when it was bottled and I opened it in April sometime.  Could have a few months of age could have a few weeks.  Either way no fresh smelling aromas coming off it.

The taste lent a different perspective on the age of the brew. It started off with a lot of roast and coffee but I also picked up some hops at this point.  Not much to say about the hops other than they lent their bittering oils to this brew and gave it a slightly dry and bitter taste.  This wasn’t a very thick imperial stout which I was sort of hoping for, I like full bodied stouts but the medium body was decent.  It also left me wanting more which is never a bad thing.

Overall I would say that this is a benchmark that other companies could judge their imperial stouts.  There was nothing wrong with this beer however it didn’t really excite me in any way.  All the aspects of the style were there with lots of roast and an aspect of hops.  If you can pick it up, definitely worth it especially since its available in 6-packs and the price isn’t terrible but for those of you looking for more of an adventurous stout this might have to be a fall back.

Final Grade: B

Brew Review: Blaecorn Unidragon

12 Oct

Brew: Blaecorn Unidragon

Brewed by: Clown Shoes Brewing (Ipswich, MA)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout (12.5% ABV)


Clown Shoes brewing out of MA until just recently was not distributed to MN.  That changed about a week ago but I had the pleasure of picking this bottle up on one of the great trips I took down to Chicago where Clown Shoes has been for a while.  Great to have another brewery with a large lineup coming to MN, although the competition is going to be fierce with the amount of new local stuff that is popping up here.  This is the 2011 release bottled on 9-11-11 and I cracked it open on 4-7-12 so this review is from my notes and the bottle had a solid 7 months of age on it which I am pretty proud of myself of for keeping it around as long as I did without getting into it.  Another Russian imperial stout (RIS), I seem to have an eye for these, must like them.

The Unidragon pours out a thick black and no light escapes from its depths. Looks like a RIS should.  A dark tan or mocha head rises up but fades quickly which creates a thin cap on the top of this inky brew.

The aroma is roasty right out of the gate.  This roast is followed up by big malts and a faint hop aroma.  Right from the start I see that this is sort of a traditional take on the RIS style.  Roasty, burnt, malty with a soft touch of hops.  These flavors flow into dried dark fruit and some toffee mixed with chocolate.  The one thing that I missed was coffee.  It was a good smell, nothing outrageous or anything but balanced and nothing seemed out of place.

I was excited for the taste, the aroma showed that this was going to be a really solid RIS right from the get go so the taste should follow up well with that. Right away I get lots of roast again.  The roasted and burnt grains lend some bitterness, the coffee finally shows up and some light chocolate all rise up from those grains.  The hops are once again faint but present giving a balance to the huge sweet malt flavor that also comes out at you.  The hops also keep the mouth feel from cloying or sickly sweet. The brew is thick in the mouth but those hops cleanse the taste somewhat and leave you wanting more.  A slight bitterness lingers but wraps up the taste nicely.

This RIS is not as ‘big’ as others (Darkness) but it really didn’t fall short of anything either.  I liked the roast aspect a lot.  There wasn’t a ton of depth to the brew but I liked the simplicity, for lack of a better word, and the somewhat traditional take on the style.  Another great or maybe not great piece of it was that at 12.5% I couldn’t pick up any alcohol anywhere.  This is a higher ABV for any beer in any style and masking that much is a pretty nice accomplishment.  A really good RIS, nothing jumps out as great but this could definitely be a backup on any night you want something dark, roasty, and deep.  The price tag keeps it out of the reaches of Old Rasputin but I still recommend it.


Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: The Czar

1 Oct

Brew: The Czar (Batch no. 10, Nov. 2011)

Brewed by:  Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO)

Style:  Russian Imperial Stout (10.57% ABV)

Avery brewing company out of Boulder CO has some fantastic labels and names for their beers.  I am a fan of almost all of their Dictator releases, of which this was/is the first one. The Czar is a great name for a Russian imperial stout since the Czar’s were the rulers of Russia, pre-1917 or before the Bolshevik Revolution.   See, beer can be a history lesson too, it’s good for body and mind, skip that red bull stuff.  Not that I did much research on the label but I am now wondering what Czar they had pictured on the label.  I am guessing it was one of the very last ones since the picture looks like a copy of an actual picture and around the turn of century actual photographs were rare and not much photography happened before that.  Actually picked up two of these bottles so I am drinking this one on Valentine’s Day 2012 and around Valentine’s Day of 2013 I will pop the other bottle to see if it has changed at all.

The Czar poured out black.  Not totally black as there is a faint light that comes through the edges so maybe a really, really deep brown.  OK we can call it a black-brown or something close to that.  There is a light tan head that rises about a half inch above the beer as well.  Overall a solid looking beer, not spectacular, but not displeasing in any way. 

The smell of the brew was big on the roasted malts, a hint of roasted bitterness.  Coffee, caramel and some dark fruit aromas also greeted my nose. The coffee blended into some dark chocolate but that was a very faint notion.  Some hops but there were about 4 months of age on this brew and they had maybe diminished in their power in that time.

The first thing I noted upon tasting this beer was how silky smooth and creamy it was.  Definitely a good thing when it comes to big stouts.  That’s about as impressive as the beer was in the taste.  After the initial taste I really couldn’t pick up on much of anything that jumped out at me.  It seemed like a fairly bland beer when this part came around.  There were faint hints of coffee and chocolate.  The roasted aspects continued.  I might have gotten more of those deep dark fruits like plumbs and raisins but nothing too substantial.   There was an alcoholic finish to the brew, not overpowering and not in any way like taking a shot of anything but you could definitely tell that it was there.

So the brew was OK looking, smelled pretty good and tasted somewhat bland.  In no way was it bad though, it held together very well and I finished the whole bottle without a problem.  I guess I don’t really have one certain thing that I can point out why I wasn’t a fan of this beer but it just came up short on a few things that I was hoping the best for.  Here’s hoping that when I open the 2nd bottle I have it will have improved markedly.

Final Grade: B

Brew Review: Plead the 5th

9 May

Brew: Plead the 5th

Brewed by: Dark Horse (Marshall, MI)

Style: Imperial Stout (12.0% ABV)

Another imperial stout to add to the books, I went on sort of a bender of stouts for a while so you can expect that to be a trend here for a bit. The Plead the 5th is Dark Horse’s version of the Imperial Stout category, it was also highly touted by a friend so I was excited to try it and once again didn’t put a whole lot of age on this bottle so when I drank it, the flavor was pretty fresh.

The Plead the 5th poured out a thick solid impenetrable black that no light escaped from. The kind of look you wish and hope for when you pour an Imperial Stout out of the bottle. There was also a great looking dark tan almost brown head that rose out of the depths of this brew as well that was welcome and just added to the perfect looking brew that greeted my eyes upon the initial pour.

The 5th also smelled wonderful. Big roasted aromas greeted me along with sweet caramel and dark chocolates. Molasses, caramel and lots of cocoa rose up to the nostrils along with a slight alcohol whiff. You could tell that this was going to be a thick dark rich complex brew when you tasted it, but the smell alone was something to take in and savor.

The taste followed suit with the appearance and the aroma, wonderfully complex and full of depth and character. The brew was thick syrupy but at the same time creamy and had a very pleasant feel to it in the mouth. Not a lot of hops that I could detect, I did let this one sit for a few months (unsure exactly how long, I need to start keeping track of how long they age to really see how its developed) so the hops probably just melded into the overall onslaught of big roasty malts and grains. At the end of the sip there were rich roast coffee tastes mixed with chocolate and a little bit of booze. Made for a bit of a ‘warm’ finish but nothing to complain about because at 12% it would have been hard to mask all that alcohol.

A great beer with lots of layers and complex flavors and aromas. This is a beer that if you like stouts and big hearty beers to seek out and if you stumble upon one or two or more you should definitely snatch up.

Final grade: A

Brew Review: Black Chocolate Stout

8 May

Brew: Black Chocolate Stout

Brewed by: Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY)

Style: Imperial Stout (10.0% ABV)

Brooklyn’s take on the imperial stout comes out in their seasonal Black Chocolate Stout. I found a 12 oz bottle at the store and knew that it had been a part of some awards and was highly thought of so I knew I had to give it a shot.

The Black Chocolate stout poured out a thick black with no light escaping. Typical for the style and exactly what I was looking for. There was a small tan head with loose bubbles that was a little disappointing as I wanted something a little more.

The smell was exactly what it should have been. Chocolate, chocolate and more afterwords. There were definite roasty characteristics mixed with deep dark fruits and some faint hop resins. The main aroma was the chocolate as there must have been some big roasty malts that carried that through.

The taste was great. Chocolate once again shone through as the main ingredient as the thick and chewy brew washed through my mouth. The roasted flavors continued and the malty-ness carried some fruit and complex tastes as well. The booze was slightly evident on the end but then again its hard to hide 10% especially since I didn’t age this one very long at all. I should have gotten a couple bottles to try later on to see how it develops.

Overall this was a fresh imperial stout so it was still figuring some things out for itself. I believe that with some age on it this will become a great brew that highlights chocolate but it still rich, deep and complex. I have to be a little more patient next time.

Final Grade: B+


Brew Review: Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

29 Dec

Brew: Beer Geek Brunch Weasel

Brewed by: Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Style: Double/Imperial Stout (10.9% ABV)

Another brew shared on the holy weekend that contained Darkness Day. Shared once again with those same two special friend from Chicago. This was brought up from the Chi and was apparently a little older than I had thought, I believe that it was picked up early in 2011 like January or February if I remember right. With that being said the coffee aspect might have been a little past its best date but I wasn’t complaining in the least. You should probably just read Mikkeller’s website on it to see what its really made out of since that is one of the more interesting parts of this beer. On with the beer.

The Brunch poured out a thick deep oily black color. Not much light escapes from this black hole of a beer. It also has a thick brown head that is impressive in itself. A great looking stout that you can tell houses some interesting flavors and hidden gems.

The smell is full of coffee, apparently the age didn’t affect that part very much. There is also some chocolate in there as well. The stout bitterness also comes though as this is probably a dry stout that will offer some bitterness. I also get a faint wiff of some plastic smells as well. It sort of smelled a little like a brand new happy meal toy right from the packaging. I don’t know why I kept thinking that but I figured I would throw it out there since I kept thinking it. In the end that wasn’t much of the smell but I picked it up.

The first taste was full of chocolate, and dark chocolate at that. It was very smooth, coffee glides over the tongue and down. It was full and complex. There wasn’t a ton of coffee, which was surprising since the main attraction was it was brewed with what I’ve heard is the most expensive coffee in the world. Some story about how weasels eat these coffee beans and some fool goes around picking up the weasels poo and then puts it into coffee and then this beer. Don’t know how I feel about that, but hey it tasted good so I guess it was a good idea after all. It wasn’t as bitter as I was expecting either. I know that there were oats used in the brewing process so that probably added to the creamy body and the lessening of the bitterness, at least to my perception. There was a little bit of potable warming as it warmed up and as I drank more of it.

I don’t really know how I want to grade this one. On one hand it was a good solid stout but the plastic flavor was weird and it wasn’t as chocolaty or coffee-like as I had expected after reading about it and hearing people talk about it. I wasn’t unhappy with it, maybe it would have been a little better if it was a little younger. I don’t know.

Final Grade: B+/A- (I don’t really know)

Brew Review: Founders Breakfast Stout

19 Oct

Brew: Breakfast Stout

Brewed by: Founders Brewing Company (Grand Rapids, MI)

Style: American Double/Imperial Stout (8.3% ABV)

With all the craziness that has surrounded the release of Founders Canadian Breakfast stout I decided I would go back and try again where that very controversial beer started from, the original Breakfast Stout. I have had this previously but that was before I was writing down and sharing all the beers that I have tried. I am glad I did because I will eventually share all the glory that is the CBS once I get my hands on it. Also, Founders is a great brewery that consistently puts out great beers.

Oh boy this beer pours out and looks tremendous. Its as dark as night, like looking into a drum of oil, no light escapes its bounds. The head on this beer is beautiful, its thick, rich and long-lasting. Big khaki, mocha cloud that sticks around forever.

The smells that waft off the beer are also amazing. It smells like a coffee house, full of rich smells that bring a relaxed atmosphere and evoke feelings of cozy armchair where you enjoy a good book or newspaper. It smells like what you would wake up to in the morning on a Sunday and your parents had a big pot off coffee on and you were ready for a big hearty breakfast with the family. There were tons of coffee smells and some dark chocolate crept up as well.

Upon the first sip was like drinking a drink of liquid chocolate coffee. The label of the beer says its a ‘double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout’ which in itself sounds like a small meal. But it lives up to that billing and has a big taste of chocolate and coffee with a creamy feel to it brought about by the oatmeal flakes that they added. This is a big heavy beer that feels like your eating something more solid than a liquid. There is also a hint of bitterness at the end which is almost inevitable since there are 60 IBU’s in this treat.

This beer is phenomenal. I am not even a coffee drinker and this still makes me scream for more. This is a coffee drinkers dream. You could literally drink this beer for a meal and it makes sense that you would drink this for breakfast, its got oatmeal and coffee which is a great breakfast combo. This is literally a meal in a bottle, I know that Guiness has been dubbed that before but, having had both, this puts that meal to shame and relegates it to the kids table and takes over the adult table all by itself. A great beer to sip and enjoy for a while because as it warms the character changes and more and more flavors come out to play and make this a complex brew that will always be a treat. Forget getting candy for Halloween or Christmas, I just want one of these and I will be happy.

Final Grade: A

Brew Review: Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy

24 Mar

Brew: Big Eddy

Brewed By: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewery Co. (Chippewa Falls, WI)

Style:  Russian Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV)

When I first ordered a Big Eddy at my local gastropub I was a little wary. Most of the Leinie’s brews I have tried in the past have been merely a better version of a Bud or a mediocre attempt at some other more interesting style.  They really have just all fallen short of what I would have hoped for.  Needless to say, when they brought out this heavy, tar-lookin’ brew I was expecting a hollow beer that slid down my throat like a bock or a lighter ale with a deceptively dark profile.

Big Eddy turned out to be something totally different. It is not only unique in that Leinenkugel’s finally made a pretty good beer for once, the style itself was an exception to the rule.  It is unlike anything I had had before from this Chippewa Falls-based brewery.  Out there in the backwoods of Wisconsin they have created something that was unprecedented to my taste buds.  This black beast packs a fruity, bitter, tart punch that puckers my lips when I took a sip.  It is a big beer with a big taste.  This unique quality caught me off guard in a good way.  I like the fact that this pitch-black pint threw me a curve and made me really think about what I was trying.  It is enjoyably complex with a lot going on and the bitterness starts to mellow out as the beer warms up, which it inevitably did, as I took my time; this was not a brew that was to be thrown back like a Silver Bullet.  After letting the brew mellow, the fruity, sweet flavors jumped out and took me for a ride.

On the whole, I am pleasantly surprised and happy with the brew that Leinie’s came up with.  The name fits nicely as this is a BIG beer with a lot to offer. Good for a cold winter night by the fire when you need something to warm up your insides.

Final Grade: B+