70 / 100
Pours a very, very black-reminiscent colour. Head is just stunning. Show-stoppingly thick, ochre in colour, with some impressive - if a little thin - lace left behind. Pretty close to amazing.
Smells sweet, and smokey, in equal measure. Weird bubblegum character with some banana and cherry notes, but also, on the other hand, smokey notes. It's completely separate in fact. Quite subtle, with wood smoke and a hint of bacon. The sweetness is a dominant thing though, which is unfortunate.
Taste is an interesting one. Lots of smoke and roast, with a touch of sweetness to it. Upfront there's cocoa, caramel and a hint of banana. Then gets roasty, smokey and burnt midway and to the back. Ends with a slight sweet note, boozey and vanilla, but it has a heaviness to the end. Quite dry on the back, but retaining lots of flavour.
Full body, a little bit sharp late, and yeah, dries up a lot.
Decent, doesn't quite reach the heights the flavours suggested. Not bad at all though.
99 / 100
(Best of the Best)
2010 vintage, bought for me by @epiclurk. Thanks =)
Pours a deep, black opaque colour, gorgeously thick, and with a lovely chunky head of deep, dark-chocolate brown. Awesome solid and crunchy lacing. But it's the depth, the heaviness, the amazing dark carbonation as it's tilted; amazing. Such an awesome deep and incredibly rich beer.
Nose is a really wonderfully interesting. It actually straddles the divide between a big, sweet American Impy Stout and a dark, heavy, almost smoky and more hardcore Russian Impy Stout. It has the sweetness, the caress, the slight oak characters and the suppleness of the American variety, but with the rawness, the stark almost austere primality of a Russian. It's gorgeous. And better than that, it's *interesting*. It's a new take on the RIS, almost a hybrid.
Taste is also gorgeous, and again it has that lovely blend of suppleness, sweetness and raw, dark bitterness. Mouthfeel is a little lacking, but it doesn't matterâthe flavour itself supplies all the smoothness that is required. There's lovely touches of oak, almost a creaminess in the taste. It's a RIS with the sensuous, gorgeous intrigue of a barrel-aged AIS.
Wow, wow, wow. I did not expect this from St Ambroise. I've had many from them now, and nothing, *nothing*, close to this. No wonder this is a special release. This is truly one of the best Imperial Stouts I've ever had, and because it manages to blend and integrate the two disparate genres, making a synergistic whole. After 1400 reviews, to find a beer that excites me like this? It's just amazing.