Style: Imperial Stout
Smuttynose Brewing Company Smuttynose Imperial Stout
What the brewers say
“Originally brewed in the early nineteenth century for export from Britain to the imperial court of Russia’s Catherine the Great, imperial stouts are characterized by their dark color snd full body. This style features a rich, malty sweetness coupled with aggressive hopping (especially in American interpretations). Notes of dried fruit as well as roasted malt flavors are typically present.”
What our panel thought
Aroma: “Big dark chocolate and coffee aroma. Big plum, dates, moderate cherry, light acidity, moderate caramel, light umami, light earthy hops, some brown sugar notes. A backbone of bready malt. I’m sitting by the fire with a snifter of...not barleywine, but this beer. Rich malt complexity with sherry, dried figs, and raisins, and warming alcohol. More caramel than roast, but the coffee and chocolate are there.”
Flavor: “Lovely complex malt sweetness—like chocolate-covered Fig Newtons, or maple syrup, with a touch of earthy hops to help balance. Like a shot of strong expresso, no cream. Complex and deep, but a bit intense so sessionable is not part of this section. Big cherry, light plum, big chocolate, moderate coffee, light hops bitterness, touch of alcohol, moderate caramel. Aftertaste: big chocolate, touch of coffee, light bitterness. Starts out like a thinner-bodied barleywine, but the hops and roast bitterness crack that illusion. The promise from the nose is here, but it doesn't quite mesh as well in the flavor because the lingering hops and slight astringency add some harshness. Hops flavor is as big as the roast. Sherry, malt, dried fruit and esters are still nice, though.”
Overall: “Very tasty, but could use a bit more carbonation to help the flavors pop. Love the fruitiness. Fun dark-fruit dominated imperial stout. The chocolate, caramel, and roast notes are present throughout with just enough hops to balance. It is fairly well carbonated, but that works to bring out the brighter fruit notes. The nose had me, but the flavor not so much.”
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