Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Three More Imps
The first came from Lagunitas rolling in at 9.9%. It's quite a bizarre beast to be sure. Not much coming off of the aroma, just a little brown malt biscuits, dried fruit and light coffee. The thing you notice most on the initial taste is that the beer drinks nowhere near it's strength, it's like it's half the labeled percentage! Flavours abound of light coffee, some oak syrup, caramelized popcorn and "deep fried butter" according to Jeff. It's a really sweet beer, and not in a bad way, it's got heaps of caramel malt sweetness running through the whole body. There's not a lot of bitterness coming from the supposed 72 IBUs to speak of. Sure, there's plenty of orange pithy tang, but this beer's almost juicy for an Imperial Stout. It's almost like it's similar in style to a Black IPA - dark in colour, but tasting much lighter. Tasty!
This 21% monster from Dogfish Head was produced ten years ago and was quite a privilege to open. I've tried this beer fresh before and it's a big bitter bruiser of a beer, full of burnt meaty power... what a difference a decade makes. You got a whiff of the scent from the slightest hiss when the bottle opened. Aromas were powerful - Old leather, burnt steak, oak, black chocolate coated liquorice, plum skins and raisins, some honeycomb and some Port like qualities. With the sheer amount of flavour that's packed into this beer, it almost makes your mouth shrivel like a prune! It's an ultimate beer, and it's still got plenty of life in it even at this age. It has mellowed a lot though and it's done the harshness a great deal of improvement, the alcohol is well hidden also under a nice vanilla and toffee sweetness. It's interesting to note that this batch of World Wide Stout was apparently only produced for the UK market and California... It comes with the perfect quote on the bottle too from Michael Jackson: "Dogfish Head is America's most adventurous and extraordinary brewery." - sums it up pretty well.
The last Imp is a true eye opener, and it's almost a little annoying... A brewery that is best know for producing Pale Ales and IPAs at such high quality, for their first commercial Imperial Stout (to us) to taste this damn good, you can't really help but admit that Sierra Nevada are truly a great brewery and know that there isn't really any style of beer that they couldn't make. The aroma has a lot of juicy hoppiness about it with a slight indication of roasted bitterness with a touch of white spirits. The flavour is immediate, intense and powerful. A very black, roasted burnt beer. Torched toast, charred oak turned to charcoal, molasses, black coffee, some dark honey and treacle and a very well hidden 10.2%. A truly inspirational beer which is going to be very interesting to see how it evolves over time.
Three new English Imperial Stouts, three new American ones in a couple of weeks... and which did I prefer?
Impossible to say...