71 / 100
** Pre-review note: I was given this beer blind and my comments reflect my intrinsic enjoyment of the beer. Scores have been scaled down to reflect the fact that this really isn't a very good "imperial stout" - either stylistically or just philosophically, regardless of how much liberty they took with guidelines **
Pours a dark brown colour with a red tinge. Head is lovely and dense, a finger thick with large bubbles. Lace is also beautifully dense and sticky. Looks seductive and impressive.
Smell is rich and tart. Lots of dark berry notes with heavy plum and raisin and blackberry notes. Plus well, wow, it's just red wine-esque. Lots of shiraz plus large amount of black pepper, oak, cocoa hints as well. Pretty appealing.
Taste is quite dark and complex. Much dark fruit on the assault, plummy and jammy with hints of raisins and redcurrants. Gets very vinous midway with red grape skins, dark chocolate and black pepper like you'd get from a good Barossa Shiraz. Yeah, very intriguing and unique flavours, lots of spice and really quite tart. Nutty and oaky notes come through on the back. In fact I think a lot of the vinous notes I'm sensing are just pungent oak. Distinct funk from the same source I believe, sort of a washed-rind cheese character blends with the fruity tart notes very well. Very tasty and complex; I'm definitely feeling it.
Smooth mouthfeel but with an alacrity to it; it just pops and leaps around in the mouth, very nicely.
A very enjoyable and complex brew. Challenging but balanced. A sipper, but a bloody fine sipper.
57 / 100
Stout swing-top bottle purchased from Healthy Spirits in San Francisco, and brought back to Australia to share with my bros.
Pours a very hazy, but not particularly dark brown colour. Hints of red to it, mostly, certainly not even close to black. Head is a vague beige colour, which forms in some nice reverse cascading out of the bottle, but it dissipates rather quickly. All up, I can't say I'm terribly impressed for a beer which calls itself Imperial, Jurassian and Stout.
Nose is rather boozy, but with a slight cherry overtone and a sweetness that gives it vestiges of artificial cherry cola. Certainly something spiced and unusual in the beer, but just as certainly, very little in the way of dark roasted characters. There's a burning astringency that almost feels like it gets in my eyes, but that's just the booziness, and not the darkness. Again, it's interesting, but it's selling itself as something different.
Taste is incredibly boozy, almost like port, grappa or brandy as it heats the tongue, with almost minimal character elsewhere to give a hint of anything else besides pure booze. There's a slight dark note to it, of course, but once again, it's not nearly strong enough for what it claims to be, and the booze has the beer in a stranglehold. Feel is remarkably thin.
An Imperial Stout can afford to be as boozy as this because it's packed with flavour, and has a huge body to hold it all together. This has none of that, but it still insists on having a very high ABV. As a result, it ends up quite harsh, but at the same time rather bland. Very average beer, to my mind.