Russian Imperial Stout
ABV – 13%
APPEARANCE: This Stout poured like it was being punished, almost like it was afraid to come out of the bottle. Slow, and menacing it filled up my stout glass and consumed it in utter darkness. I began to rough pour to produce a head, it billowed up quickly a chestnut brown foam that began to recede back into the blackness as quickly as it was produced. Left over was a small halo and a bit of spotted lacing that attempted to stay around as I drank but finally gave up.
AROMA: And I will strike down on thee with great blackberries and a furious chocolate aroma to those that will attempt to describe the layers of aromas coming from this beer. Upfront the blackberries do come out rich, deep and jammy.The addition of the port barrel aging is producing a very interesting vinous note, that is a welcomed change from the usual big bourbon barrel notes on a BA stout. Big burst of chocolate, roasted espresso, slightly burnt toasted bread and scorched toffee. As I get in for another nose full, the jammy berry aromas seem to be turning into more of a black cherry, raisin and plum. Very enjoyable aroma with quite a bit of layers that play off each other and open up new additions each time I go back for another smell.
TASTE: Blessed is he, who in the name of Belgian beer and Blackberry stouts, shepherds the unknowing through the valley of Black Damnation, for he is truly his brother in beer and the finder of new flavors. Like small chocolate warriors holding fresh picked blackberries swords are having a battle in my mouth. Lots of big bold flavors going on here, the berries are first and foremost with the rich chocolate and french pressed coffee coming in nicely. The mid palate shows some addition of anise, and a roasty bitterness that seems to be setting the stage for the next act of flavors to come in. Come in it does, with the additional time to let the temperature come up the port wine barrel flavors begin to emerge bringing with it a delicate spicy Belgian yeast note. The 13% abv peaks it monstrous head just enough to let you know its there without having an overly hot taste. The ending has more fruit flavors not necessarily black berries but a mesh of dark fruits, black currants, raisins and plums.
MOUTHFEEL: Medium plus body with a low carbination. Slick and slightly creamy the body is perfect for sipping this stout. Every sip coats the mouth in a lovely lingering finish full of all the best aspects of the flavor profile. Right when you think it could not linger any more it suddenly drys up leaving a delicious after taste of Belgian style yeast.
OVERALL: Being this is my first experience with anything from the De Struise Brouwers, I don’t have anything to use as a standard. Set against other stouts/ba stouts/fruit stouts it does shine. What I really enjoyed about this beer was that after the first initial blast of berry/port like favors and aromas it still stands out as a RIS delivering everything you would expect with just a touch of Belgian spices and yeast to pull it all together.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads! Leaving a little room on the score for the chance of having a regular version of this to compare.
Beer Purchased at:
Top Shelf Wine & Spirits