I suppose the name tells you all you need to know about the style. The interpretation is Stone standard, hop heavy and west coast. The nose is chocolaty and warm. The middle starts out the same, with some lovely milkiness and currant notes, then transitions to heavy bitter pine and coffee. The finish is roasted grain and fading coffee and anise. The body is quite heavy as you’d expect, and the alcohol level is equally stout at 10.6% ABV.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
I don’t know what it is about Founders, but this Michigan brewery knows how to do big heavy beers like few others. Today I’m having an Imperial Stout, which is one of their specialty beers, with availability from January through March. Which, again, makes this a winter seasonal. It’s brewed with ten different varieties of malted barley for a rich, complex flavor. It pours a dark inky black-brown. The nose has chocolate and unique woodiness that reminds me of the smoke from a mesquite fire, and a bit of hickory and toast. The head is thick and the texture of light whipped cream. The middle explodes with different flavors including chocolate, molasses, brown sugar, raisins, and coffee. The finish settles down and is sweet, heavy, and milky with a little well-balanced maple syrup and coffee lingering on the back of the tongue right at the end. The body on this beer is well and truly heavy. This is a stout’s stout. The alcohol is high at 10.5% ABV, but very well hidden. This is one of the finest example of a stout that I’ve had.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
An American classic. Old Rasputin is a Russian Imperial Stout from the master brewers of California’s North Coast Brewing Co. Widely recognized as a world class beer, this was one of the first craft beers I was introduced to, and it was instrumental in building my interest in the wide world of beers outside of the macros. The head is a heavy, sticky dark brown that reminds me of frothing motor oil. The beer is not quite pitch black, but close. Hold it up to a white light and you can see the tiniest hint of dark red luminescence. The nose is bready with coffee and chocolate. The middle is quite bitter and dry, with burnt coffee and cocoa in the fore. That transitions quickly into a sweet finish with chocolate syrup dominating. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a substantial presence at 9% ABV, though it doesn’t materially affect the flavor, perhaps just adding a bit of effervescence right at the tail end of the finish. This beer is a universally recognized timeless classic, and even if it isn’t your style, is a beer that every craft beer aficionado should try at least once so as to understand what makes up a truly exceptional Russian Imperial Stout.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.