Posts Tagged ‘imperial stout’

Abstrakt AB:13

July 12, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.75

My third beer from Brewdog’s Abstrakt series now, this one follows on from their outstanding AB:10 that I tried way back in late 2013 and their AB:19 that I finally got around to trying around Christmas time last year. This one is a 2013 release from the brewery that I’ve had since then and it’s a cherry imperial stout that is aged for fourteen months in sherry whisky barrels to give it some of its taste. I believe I picked this one up from the Brewdog online store roughly five years ago and had always been saving it for around Christmas time each year but I’d never get around to trying it so I decided to scrap that recently and finally crack the bottle open and see how it tastes now it’s five years old. I’m expecting big things from this one given how good their AB:10 was all those years ago, I still enjoyed the AB:19 but that didn’t quite hit the same heights so at the very least it should be interesting to see  how this one turns out; the beer itself is numbers 8659 of 9972 so there can’t be too many of these left kicking about either.

Appearance (4/5): A very dark, cola like black colour with very thin, bubbly lacing on top that was a fiery brown in colour but faded quite quickly to leave not much of anything upstairs but that was to be expected given both the age and strength of this one.
Aroma (7/10): Quite a dark, oak like nose with a lot of roasted malts and liquorice upfront alongside a solid base of alcohol grain and an earthy bitterness from some coffee and chocolate notes. It’s slightly sweet with some caramel and dark fruits showing, mainly some dates and prunes but also a few sugars come through to help out. It’s a heavy aroma with some raisins and toffee towards the end to see things out; very strong stuff.
Taste (7/10): Dark fruits and alcohol flavours kick things off, it’s definitely got a sherry taste to it with some darker malts and chocolate following on behind, I managed to get some cherries alongside prunes and dates with a few raisins following on behind. It’s slightly sweet the caramel and a toffee taste further on alongside molasses and a few hints of vanilla and oak.
Palate (4/5): Fill-boded but after five years there’s very little carbonation showing, although it doesn’t seem flat given the type of beer it is. It’s loaded with alcohol from the start and shows pretty much all of it’s 11.3% abv. from the first sip. Some touches of sweetness by way of the chocolate and vanilla, not to mention the dark fruits and cherries helps to make it a drinkable offering but it’s not one to be rushed.

Overall (15/20): This one was a very strong and boozy beer from the start with a tonne of alcohol showing and a little sweetness further on from the dark fruits, molasses and vanilla. It’s a beer to take your time with and sip rather than rush through it given the strength and the age of the beer, although it holds up quite well for a bottle that’s been sitting in my attic for the best part of five years. It’s a thick and chewy, full-bodied beer that I’m glad I’ve finally tried but it was just that little bit too strong for my liking so I doubt I’d have picked it up again had it been a regular from Brewdog and it doesn’t quite hit the heights of either of the previous two Abstrakt beers I’ve tried.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: BrewDog
First Brewed: 2013
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.3%
Serving: Bottle (375ml)
Price: £10.00


Durham Temptation

Rating: 4.2

This one is my second Durham Brewery beer now and follows on from their Bede’s Chalice that I had back in December after picking the bottle up alongside this one last year at the Fenwick’s store in Newcastle when I visited the city in July. This one is a 10% abv. imperial stout and one that I was quite surprised to see available in a 500ml bottle from a UK based brewery, normally these type of beers are restricted to a smaller 330ml bottle or a larger sharing bottle but seeing this in the shop made it an easy choice for one to pick up.

Appearance (5/5): Jet black with an opaque body and a half centimetre, foamy head that’s a light tan colour and managing to cover the surface well. Surprisingly there wasn’t much reduction in size over the open couple of minutes and the head started to look quite creamy with the odd bubble on the surface too; a great start given the alcohol content on this one with the heading holding on for well over five minutes as I let this one heat up a little after coming out of the fridge.
Aroma (7/10): Not a huge aroma but still quite a strong one with plenty of chocolate and coffee notes kicking things off and giving this one a roasted, dark nose. There’s some alcohol grain in the early going with touches of sweetness dotted about the place too; mainly sugars but a little vanilla and even some light caramel too. It’s earthy further on with the roasted notes coming back alongside a few nutty notes and hints of dried fruit seeing things out without anything dominating.
Taste (8/10): More pronounced than the nose with some chocolate malts and dark, roasted flavours coming through a little stronger this time around as well as a little more of the alcohol content coming through. It’s an earthy tasting offering that’s got some liquorice as well as the dried fruits from the nose, there was some raisin and hints of plum too. Rounded off with some further sweetness and sugars as well as some dates and prunes, the beer seemed quite complex but stopped short of overpowering or having any one flavour dominating.
Palate (4/5): Strong but balanced, this one is a full-bodied stout that had some alcohol showing with the nose and a little more with the taste which made it quite a warming and boozy feeling beer from the middle on. It was a moderately carbonated beer but the balance was very good with some nice sugar and dried fruit sweetness complimenting the dark and earthy malts from earlier on and helping it go down quite easily despite the strength.

Overall (18/20): Excellent stuff from Durham, this one got off to a cracking start with a solid head that stayed put throughout the beers life and was one of the best I’ve ever seen on such a strong beer. It’s dark and malty to open with lots of roasted notes and flavours coming through with some chocolate and a little sweetness off the back of this too. Further on I got some dried fruits and sugars coming through as well as some of the alcohol content but it wasn’t too strong, just enough to give the beer and warming and boozy feel that I enjoyed a lot.

Brewed In: Durham, England
Brewery: Durham Brewery
First Brewed: 2005
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 10.0%
Serving: Bottle (500ml)
Purchased: Fenwick’s (Newcastle)
Price: £4.49

Very Big Moose

Rating: 4.55

Another beer from Fierce brewing, this one a collaboration with Brewdog and the staff from their Aberdeen bar as part of Brewdog’s Collab Fest 2017; this one the winner of the event in October last year. An imperial stout with touches of cocoa, vanilla and cinnamon and coming in at a strong 12% abv., this one is a beer that I was looking forward to trying but never managed to make it to a Brewdog bar during the event itself so I thought I’d missed out on trying the beer until I spotted it online over Brewdog’s AGM weekend in April this year. This one is a beer I’m very much looking forward to trying and it follows on from the can of Very Big Moose: Tonka that I reviewed here recently as well, that one being a collaboration with Brew York that used tonka beans in the brewing process so I’m interested to see how this one compares.

Appearance (4/5): Very thick looking as it pours, the beer is opaque and jet black in colour with a half centimetre tall head that is foamy and covers the surface initially before breaking up in the centre but holding around the edges of the beer; it’s better than expected for the strength of the beer anyway.
Aroma (9/10): This one gets off to a strong start with a lot of chocolate and alcohol grain kicking things off, there’s a background sweetness to though with some vanilla notes coming through in the early going. Further on I got some dark, almost roasted malts and oak coming through with more sweet alcohol that resembles rum at points. There’s the odd spice towards the end with a bit of cinnamon but the chocolate and vanilla are strongest throughout; excellent stuff on the nose.
Taste (9/10): The taste follows on in a similar fashion to the nose with some strong chocolate flavours upfront alongside the same vanilla sweetness that carried on from the nose as well. There’s some rum and alcohol grain showing towards the middle but more of this is masked than anticipated with some darker malts and cocoa covering it for the most part alongside some spices.
Palate (5/5): Full-bodied and quite thick throughout, this one was smooth and strong with a warming alcohol feel from the middle on and as a result the end of the beer was quite a boozy one. The beer had an excellent balance and a lot of the alcohol content was hidden but you knew it was a strong one with a touch of dryness towards the end and plenty of sweetness throughout thanks to the chocolate and oak but mainly the vanilla flavours that featured heavily from the start.

Overall (19/20): Outstanding stuff from Fierce and Brewdog, this one is loaded with flavours and opens with a strong sweetness that was mainly down to the vanilla but also some chocolate malts and oak too. It’s a strong one with some rum and alcohol grain towards the middle but it remained quite easy to drink thanks to the smooth body and excellent balance. I went in expecting this to be similar to the Tonka version of the beer that Fierce done with Brew York not long after this one was initially release but this version is so much better and has a lot more going on as well. There was some nice roasted flavours towards the end with background spice, in particular cinnamon coming through to round things off exceptionally well; an amazing beer that I could drink again and again (although not in one sitting) and I’m thankfully I picked up another one to try at a later date now – believe the hype.

Brewed In: Aberdeen, Scotland
Brewery: Fierce Beer/Brewdog (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 12.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Price: £5.60

Buffalo Belgian Stout

Rating: 3.75

My first review of a Van den Bossche beer now and it’s not a brewery I’ve seen anything from before, this one is another beer I managed to try at the De Garre pub in Bruges recently and is the last of the three beers I tried there, following on from their house Tripel Van De Garre and the bottle of Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor that I tried there before getting round to this one. Falling somewhere between a strong Belgian dark ale and an imperial stout, this was a beer I went for on a whim and thankfully it turned out to be another good one, here’s what I thought of it at the time.

Appearance (4/5): Really dark stuff, this one is a deep brown to mahogany coloured beer with a thin white head that was more of a fine lacing around the circumference with little in the middle of the beer which looked relatively thick and oily.
Aroma (7/10): Mainly dark and earthy malts with a lot of coffee coming through in the early going but it wasn’t quite as strong as anticipated for a 9% abv. offering with the balance obviously a good one and some of the alcohol hidden too. There was a lot of darker fruits showing with some raisin and plum alongside touches of cocoa and a few dates thrown in for good measure as well; nice stuff with some faint alcohol towards the end too.
Taste (7/10): Quite similar to the nose with dark fruits opening the show, I got some raisin, plum and dates with touches of fig and plenty of darker malts too. It was an earthy tasting beer with some coffee bitterness and cocoa around the middle which helped to impart a faint sweetness with a few sugars seeing things out too.
Palate (4/5): Smooth with a medium to full body with quite subdued carbonation but a good sweetness coming through from the chocolates as well as the darker fruits. It was a relatively rich and complex beer without overpowering thanks to the balance and there was a touch of alcohol at the end to give it a nice kick too.

Overall (15/20): Quite a strong beer at points but still not as overpowering as some imperial stout thanks to the good balance and the nice sweetness coming through from the chocolate, dark fruits and even a little caramel malt. It was drinkable with a smooth feel and good complexity as well. An interesting beer that I’m glad I managed to try, although there are definitely better imperial stouts out there to be had.

Brewed In: Herzele, East Flanders, Belgium
Brewery: Brouwerij Van den Bossche
First Brewed: circa. 2004
Type: Imperial Stout/Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Abv: 9.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Staminee De Garre, Bruges, Belgium
Price: €4.50 (approx. £3.99)

Black Albert (383 of 1001)

Rating: 4.05

My second beer from Struise after their Pannepot offering and one that I managed to pick up when I stopped by their bottle shop in Bruges a couple of weeks ago in the hope of finding this and another of their beers that I’ll be reviewing soon, their Aardmonnik Flemish Oud Bruin that I was lucky enough to find as well. This beer is a 2007 release from the brewery and I managed to pick up a bottle from 2016 at a very reasonably priced €5, not bad at all for a beer that comes in at an impressive 13% abv. and isn’t the easiest to find, even in Belgium. Originally brewed for Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, Maine, this is now a year-round offering from the brewery and takes inspiration from American and Scandinavian attempts at the style, this was Struise’s first imperial stout and but it has since branched out to brew several more, including their Cuvée Delphine which is the same beer after it has been aged for a year in bourbon barrels; hopefully I’ll be able to try it at some point in the future as well.

Appearance (4/5): Jet black in colour with an opaque body, this one pours like oil with a thin, bubbly head on top that was a beige to brown colour but sat mainly to one side of the beer without managing to cover the entire surface. It was still and thick looking in the glass with a thin lacing around the circumference as well but that was expected given the strength of this one.
Aroma (8/10): Quite a strong nose with some liquorice and dark chocolate to kick things off, there was a solid coffee bitterness in the early going too but this was quickly followed by warming alcohol notes and some grain. The beer was very strong with some darker fruits coming through, mainly raisins and prunes with some spices showing towards the middle as well. Further on there was hints of vanilla sweetness and a couple of sugars too; a very strong beer without overpowering too much thankfully.
Taste (8/10): Very strong stuff with huge amounts of alcohol grain and warming touches showing immediately but there was some nice dark chocolate and coffee flavours soon after to help balance it out a little. It was an earthy and bitter offering with some nice sugars and the vanilla sweetness from the nose showing here too. Further on some dark fruits came through as well, both the raisins and prunes from the nose with some plums and figs as well before some subtle spices and more dark malts see things out alongside a boozy alcohol finish.
Palate (4/5): Full-bodied and very thick, this one was a smooth and oily feeling beer on the mouth with very soft carbonation and a warming, boozy feel that seemed every bit like the 13% abv. it was. There was a creamy feel to the beer but it was quite malty and earthy too with nice complexity but it was perhaps just a touch strong as times whilst still being a very nice beer to drink.

Overall (17/20): Strong and thick, this one was a beer I really had to take my time with given the alcohol content and how boozy and warming it was at times. It opened with some nice chocolate and bitter coffee flavours that were complimented by a vanilla sweetness and some sugars further on but it definitely wasn’t a beer to rush. It seemed a little too strong at times, particularly early on but it was complex and rich with some pleasant dark malts and dark fruits showing too; a beer well worth trying and one I’d happily pick up again for a special occasion too.

Brewed In: Oostvleteren, West Vlaanderen, Belgium
Brewery: De Struise Brouwers
First Brewed: 2007
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 13.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Struise Beershop (Bruges, Belgium)
Price: €5.00 (approx. £4.43)

Choco Libre

June 28, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 3.65

A December 2017 release from Brewdog that I actually tried on-tap just before Christmas but never properly reviewed at the time so I was pleased to finally grab a bottle when I spotted it available on the Brewed online shop a couple of weeks ago; I had feared that I might have been too late and missed my chance. The beer is limited released, 8.2% imperial stout from the brewery that I quite enjoyed when I tried it a couple of months ago and is brewed with Mexican spiced chocolate and features hints of vanilla, cinnamon and chillies which definitely makes it seem like a winter beer but I’m sure it’ll taste just as good now.

Appearance (4/5): Really thick looking as it poured,this one was jet black and opaque with a tan brown head on top that was bubbly and foamy in each measure, starting about a quarter centimetre tall before fading to a thin surface lacing soon after.
Aroma (6/10): Opening quite dark with a hint of coffee and some roasted malts to kick things off, it’s not quite an overpowering aroma that you often find with an imperial stout but there’s definitely a noticeable aroma. Slightly further on there’s some chocolate notes but they’re definitely not as noticeable as expected, I did get a little spice and chocolate around the middle too. Towards the end a faint alcohol smell followed by a vanilla aroma that made an appearance and helped by adding to the sweetness but I’d been expecting a little more from the nose in truth.
Taste (7/10): More pronounced than the nose with some dark malts and roasted flavours kicking things off before some chocolate starts to come through and is backed up by touches of spice as well. Again there is a vanilla sweetness around the middle and towards the end but it’s a touch stronger than with nose. A little further on some faint hints of coffee bitterness show with some darker fruits and sugars seeing things out.
Palate (4/5): Medium to full-bodied and quite a smooth beer with a background spice to it off the back of the chocolate. The beer was a little light on the nose but came through stronger come the taste with a good vanilla sweetness to it as well. It’s a well carbonated beer that was fairly well-balanced too with a warming alcohol finish too.

Overall (15/20): This one didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts with the nose little than expected and far too weak for an 8.2% abv. imperial stout but things turned around slightly come the taste with the dark malts and chocolate flavours more pronounced by that point. It was spicy at points without overpowering and some nice vanilla flavours added to the sweetness whilst simultaneously helping the balance. It’s definitely a nice beer and one that I’d have again if I spotted it whilst out but I remember it being better the first time I tried it; perhaps that was done to me having quite a few before it though.

Brewed In: Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Brewery: Brewdog
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 8.2%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Price: £2.94

Pleasures In The Darkness

June 19, 2018 Leave a comment

Rating: 4.0

Beer number six from Wylam for me now, this one being a collaborative offering between the Newcastle based brewery and Kendal based Hawkshead that I picked up a couple months ago and am just getting around to trying now. This one follows on from bottles of Wylam’s Club of Slaughters imperial stout and their Nomi Sorachi pale ale, both of which I tried towards the end of last year after picking them up on a visit to Newcastle last summer. This particular offering is one that I was looking forward to and Wylam definitely appear to have upped there game given the first couple I tried from them were fairly average bitters and pilsners so an imperial stout is nice to see; that being said, there Club of Slaughters was quite a terrible take on the style so I’m hopeful this one is a major improvement on that one.

Appearance (4/5): Pouring a very thick and oily, jet black colour and forming a nice, two or three centimetre tall head that was bubbly and brown in colour but took a fairly aggressive pour to get there. Head retention isn’t great but to be expected given it’s an 11% abv. beer with it fading to quite a thin lacing around the circumference after about twenty seconds before disappearing completely soon after.
Aroma (8/10): Strong on the nose with a lot of coffee and dark chocolate notes opening things up, immediately you notice some touches of alcohol in the early going too with some grain coming through. It’s a dark and heavy beer with dates and liquorice alongside a vanilla sweetness and some sugars. There’s a lot of complexity with raisin and even the odd smoky note starting to come through with an earthy, roasted malt bitterness at the end along with some more dark fruits; excellent stuff.
Taste (8/10): Dark malts and some sweetness kick things off in the early going with a lot of alcohol showing at this stage too but not quite overpowering. The beer was a rich one with some dark fruits coming through that included the prunes and raisins from the nose with some dates too. Around the middle there was a lot of cocoa and chocolate making itself known with a vanilla backing and some caramel at this point too. It’s quite a rich and dark tasting beer with a good amount of sweetness to help the balance and some dark oats further along too.
Palate (4/5): Thick and full-bodied, this one is a very dark beer with a smooth feel that is very lightly carbonated but surprisingly well-balanced given the amount of complexity. It’s a strong one with some alcohol upfront and a warming finish that was slightly boozy and had some sweetness in there too.

Overall (16/20): Quite a strong and rich beer that opens with a lot of alcohol and as a result seems quite boozy and warming, especially nearer the end but it was well-balanced for the most part with some nice caramel malts and chocolate flavours complimenting the coffee bitterness and roasted malts. It was a beer that I had to sip away at and definitely couldn’t rush but it was a pleasant and smooth one with good complexity and nice variety too.

Brewed In: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Brewery: Wylam Brewery/Hawkshead Brewery (collaboration)
First Brewed: 2017
Type: Imperial Stout
Abv: 11.0%
Serving: Bottle (330ml)
Purchased: Good Spirits Co. Wine & Beer (Glasgow)
Price: £3.70