Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Year of Craft Beer, Vol. 86, Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout

I found another beer from my favourite English brewery.  Imperial Stout.  It's the style of of Russian Imperial stouts that in the 1800's the English brewed to get the Russian czar to drink their beer.  I guess that guy had lots of money and they wanted his business!  Anyway, these are pretty close to being the darkest, fullest, and most roasted out of all beers so it takes a certain palate to enjoy them.  They are usually not incredibly bitter and that makes them more to my liking.

And yes my favourite brewery gets points for using bottles that I can bottle my beer with!  Tasteful label and I do dig their symbol as well.

The beer pours a deep black with a one finger brown head that fades to a solid cap on the beer with Charlie Brown Halloween ghost costume heads of lacing on the side of my glass mug.  Pretty cool!

Cherries seem to be up front in the aroma, slightly acidic or astringent, raisins and definitely malts, but not much in the way of roasted malt.

I poured this beer too cold.  I needed to let is sit out of the fridge longer.  So here are a list of flavours associated with this beer, not in any particular order and surprisingly, no one really more predominant than the other, but in this order of appearance: Dark Roasted malt, dark chocolate, cherries, raisins, bread, vanilla, cherries, roasted malt and then finally bittering hops followed by licorice and a hop dryness.  Like I said, none more overwhelming than the other and only the lingering hop bitter stays.  It's very well balanced.

It has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel and is most definitely full bodied, but not syrupy.  The carbonation is moderate or a hair under and the finish is dry, but not overly so.

I love this beer!  There is a tartness that I associate with the cherry flavours that I am not overly fond of.  I'm not sure of the origins, but there is good reason why this is truly a world class beer!  The complexity along with the balance alone is astonishing.  If you don't like a bitter finish, you will probably want to stay away from this beer as it seems accentuated by the dark roasted malts. For the style, I am giving this beer high 4s out of 5!  Superb!

Like I said, this beer is not for all beer drinkers.  It is bitter, but not enough to turn me away.  Although drinking two of these in a row might be a challenge for me.  Really, the only way to know it to take that leap and check it out!  If you know the style is not to your liking already, so be it.  You can always convince your publican to give you a taster.  Just get out there.  Try new beer!  You don't want to be on your death bed regretting that you didn't taste a piece of history when you could have do you?


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