Evil Twin Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break

Total Score: 8.25/10 Chocolate1Vanilla1Chili1Tulipglass1

Well this one certainly takes the cake [break]! Evil Twin Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break. Which is a collaboration with Westbrook, and a bloody big one at that! This 10.5% ABV behemoth is brewed with coffee, cinnamon, almonds, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and habanero peppers, which reminds me of #11 on my all-time beer list: Stone Xocoveza… that is a damn good thing to be reminded of. Lately my reviews of Evil Twin have been interesting to say the least – I bounced off Imperial Biscotti Break somewhat (it was way too thin body-wise), however Even More Coco Jesus was so good it’s made it into my top 50 (currently at #43)… not sure what to expect with Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break, I’m assuming by the name that it’s brewed with the Biscotti Break recipe, here’s hoping it’s got body.

Poured from a 650ml US bomber-sized bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Poured hard and as viscous as Texas tea (that’s oil son) into the glass, foaming up with a nice dense mocha head and a body black as the ace of spades “there goes the neighbourhood” to quote Monty Python. The head settles to nothing, leaving an inky black brew… ominous stuff. 8/10.

S: Dark/bitter 80% chocolate, vanilla, smoky char, a hint of tobacco and roasted espresso. Not much in the way of cinnamon or almond, and the habanero only comes through in smoky notes. TBH I thought this would be an aroma assault of the senses but its very restrained and comes across as a simple American Imperial Stout. Hoping the flavour kicks me in the groin [just a little]. 7/10.

T: There we go! There’s a lot to parse in the flavour profile – dark chocolate and cacao nibs upfront, hints of cinnamon and vanilla centre, coffee and char late palate, burnt sugar sweetness gives it a cakey feel, and the finish adds a nice kiss of habanero chilli. This is a BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto] flavour profile that leaves nothing to the imagination – it’s hard to imagine anything while you’re being kicked in the face with multiple flavours. Also while all this flavour-face-kicking is going on I’m getting 10.5% ABV into my system whilst barely noticing it, yay. 9/10.

M: Heavy and viscous with a creamy/almost-flat carbonation, fairly smooth but could be thicker (e.g. Even More Coco Jesus had better body). 8/10.

D: This was one “don’t mess with me motherf__ker!” brew. Hats off to Evil Twin, who managed to bring a shopping list of ingredients together without the beer tasting overwrought. Still prefer Even More Coco Jesus though. 8/10.

Food match: Have a cigar and prep the stomach pump.


AleSmith Speedway Stout

Total Score: 8.95/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Wood1Tulipglass1

Well looks like I finally got my hands on AleSmith Speedway Stout, and this thing is monolithic at 12% ABV – I mean it’s going to be a BIG (Bearing Immense Gusto) brew. Plus as a coffee stout it has some epic competition in the likes of Founders Breakfast Stout and my recent favourite Omnipollo Selassie Stout… it almost makes you wonder “If I was a brewer would I even want to throw my hat into the coffee stout ring”? It’s like placing your head inside the lions jaw (to borrow another circus metaphor). AleSmith are no slouches though – they know how to brew a BIG one. Time to bring out my “big book of words that describe the colour black” again… obsidian? Yeah we’ve heard that one before!

Poured from a 473ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents an opaque stygian atramentous [see, I found an even more complicated word to describe obsidian!] body with a pretty decent mocha head that hangs in there like a champ (given the 12% ABV). This doesn’t look as motherf__king ominous as other American Imperial Stouts, but perhaps this is the calm before the shitstorm? 8/10.

S: Nose is quite a bouquet of rich coffee bean, chicory, charred wood, oak, dark fruits (prune/plum), and a touch of brandy… and this next statement feels very Douglas Adams-like but: what a fragrant beer this speedway is. Look it’s a damn epic aroma – there’s no escaping it – it’s a black hole of an aroma: sucking in my olfactory senses into it like a dying star. 10/10.

T: Mmmmm-f__king-tastic! Creamy AF, but we’ll get to that, all of the above: coffee bean, chicory, charred wood, oak, prune, plum, touch of brandy, yes please sir! Plus, PLUS: it doesn’t taste anything near 12% ABV (‘cept for a little warming in the aftertaste). Pure genius AleSmith! [insert a bit more hyperbole here] Now some bad points: finish is slightly more bitter than wanted/warranted, and the coffee character isn’t as prominent as in FBS or Selassie… but damn this: spot hit. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied, reasonably viscous, not quite Founders body (but nothing I’ve found yet beats Founders body), creamy-super-dense carbonation. 9/10.

D: Was not expecting this to come close to FBS but Speedway really does manage to come close, were it not for that bitter edge and the coffee flavour being less than prominent I might have been able to crown my new favourite coffee stout – but sorry FBS still claims that title by a narrow margin. 8/10.

Food match: I feel like smoking cigars in a totally non-exclusionary club right now.


Omnipollo Selassie Imperial Stout

Total Score: 9.1/10 Coffee1Vanilla1Smoke1Tulipglass1

My first review of a beer from Swedish brewer Omnipollo – and of course I went straight for the Stouty jugular with their Selassie Imperial Stout (infused with Ethiopian coffee: Yirgacheffe is one of my top ten of coffee beans baby!). I have a history of beginning a new brewery with their Imperial Stouts (eg: Founder Breakfast Stout). If it’s a coffee-infused RIS all the better. That said I almost purchased a bottle of Omnipollo’s Anagram Blueberry Cheesecake Stout, which is now sold out at my local “were it not for the grace of God”, oh well. Selassie is my horse tonight, and I think I backed a winner: BeerAdvocate has Selassie well ahead of Anagram! This ain’t a one horse race either – I think I saw a bottle of Noa Pecan Mud Cake left at my local too, better get right on that one.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black as Satan’s sports car (a Lamborghini Diablo of course) body with a deep mocha-hued head that is surprisingly resilient for this brews 11% ABV… I’ve rarely seen a head at that ABV descend so slowly – credit to Omnipollo – this is one damn impressive and ominous drop. 10/10.

S: This reminds me of FBS so far – horribly dark, syrupy/murky appearance… and the aroma, which is one-note: vanilla and cold press coffee. This subtlety no doubt belies a tongue-smashing flavour. It’s the ones that don’t sledgehammer you with aroma that you have to watch out for. 7/10.

T: Tongue-smashing: yes. Smashing my buds like a wrecking-ball of awesomeness… and coffee… and vanilla. Is it sweet? You better believe it sister! Though it’s far from a sugar-bomb: It’s spot-on. Impossible to fault this flavour. I would love to compare this to FBS, but I’ve not seen it here in a while, and the bottle I’ve got has been sitting in my fridge a year now [too precious to waste says Gollum]. 10/10.

M: The question on everyone(who is reading this review and knows my work)’s lips: “is it Founder’s body good?”… not quite – it’s almost there, it’s heavy bodied, but it’s more Jay Kay smooth [whereas FBS is Marvin Gaye smooth]. Still pretty f**ken soulfully-smooth nonetheless. Spotify “Talulah” if you doubt me. 9/10.

D: No doubt Omnipollo are FBS fans – they’ve studied the Founder’s playbook well: simple coffee flavours, just the right level of sweetness, oily/chewy body and nary a hint of Alcoburn™ to slow you down… yep, these Omnipollo peeps know how to breakfast up a Stout, but there is only one FBS [answer: FBS]. 9/10.

Food match: Much like FBS it’s hard to imagine food with this – just drink it FFS.


Bacchus Brewing Timmy Ho’s Double Double

Total Score: 6.85/10 Coffee1BrownSugar1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

Been looking forward to this one since… well, since last week when it came in to my local Black Sheep Bottle Shop (at Stafford, QLD). Still feels like a long time to be waiting to crack open a Bacchus brew as they have so much creativity poured into them – as I mentioned last time round they’re like the Australian Mikkeller, and I love Mikkeller (any craft beer aficionado worth their salt loves Mikkeller!). So this is one that I’m really looking forward to as an out-and-out coffee snob: Timmy Ho’s Double Double, i.e. double cream, double sugar – if it turns out to be both of those then it is game/set/match Bacchus.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep dark brown with a smattering of black body and a wafer thin tan to mocha head on top. Hard not to be drawn in by such an ominous appearance – I do love Stouts for that reason – so dark: Like the heart of Africa it beats and stirs up primal urges before releasing its intoxicating fragrances. 8/10.

S: Double “Yes! Please and thank you!” bold espresso coffee with red coffee bean characters smacks one across the face with a challenge that one can only reply to with “Moi?”. There are also impressions of brown sugar, demerara sweetness and hints of molasses finishing off this heady Coffee/Milk Stout scent. If there’s one complaint, and it is positive to note that this very same complaint was registered in my review of FBS (a beer that needs no de-abbreviation): It’s a little one-dimensional in the aroma… prepare thyself Doc. 7/10.

T: Unfortunately it’s no Australian FBS… shame because you could really go somewhere with that cachet. Flavours turned out to be a mix between espresso and filter coffee, brown sugar, 70% chocolate and a hint of vanilla. It’s tasty, yes, certainly and indeed, but it needs a bit of something something… actually the flavour is pretty decent – the mouthfeel is distracting though. 7/10.

M: Overtly thin body (mid to light) given the style, with a fizzy carbonation and less density than is needed here. 5/10.

D: This is one beer that really fell on its sword re: Mouthfeel – it really makes a difference with a beer that is heavy/sticky/chewy like FBS and this offering to the beer gods from Bacchus (aka the wine god). Of course flavour isn’t as great as FBS, so it’s not perfect there either. However with a woefully thin and gassy mouthfeel this brew was headed nowhere for me. #mouthfeelmatters 7/10.

Food match: Oats, lots of oats… wait that’s what the beer needed, oh well. Stew!


Stone Americano Stout

Total Score: 8.7/10 Coffee1Wood1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

I’m still wondering when Stone will bring out their “Cold-Drip Steve Austin Stout”. Brewers seem to be enamoured to bad puns, dad jokes if you will, and that jest is hilarious and mighty in its craptacularity – it could even be as big and evil as the Chuck Norris meme… just saying. So Americano Stout – no doubt named after one of the worst coffee drink types ever devised [I mean why not just down an espresso instead – the mind boggles!]. Anyway, Americans can be strange in their ways, but Stone are strange in all the ways that are correct – I’m still dreaming about their amazing Xocoveza… if you ever see it: Buy immediately [and send to me]!

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Looks decadently rich in the glass from the off, like an opulent Wall street banker eating BBQ spare-ribs off a naked geisha at a yacht-based orgy. Body has the appearance of an inky black hole with a tasty rich tan head that slowly slips back onto itself like the dying star that it is. 9/10.

S: Dirty cacao nibs, roast espresso, hints of star anise, vanilla and wood fire – this is one American Double Stout you don’t mess with… if indeed you do normally mess with American Double Stouts, if so – you need to give your diabetes a break for a change. The aroma profile is borderline perfect bar one fact: I’m not getting much coffee on the nose here (kinda the opposite of FBS which was like pure-distilled coffee). 8/10.

T: This is a damn fine example of the style! Hits upfront with: Dirty cacao nibs and roast espresso bean, throws in some light citric hop notes (for good measure) then continues with hints of star anise, vanilla and a toasty wood fire char towards the finish. Tasty, toasty and roasty – all great things in a Stout. Aftertaste has a defined espresso coffee roast flavour. Much like the real-life Americano coffee it feels like it would benefit from a bit of full-cream milk – though adding this to a beer is not recommended. 9/10.

M: Medium bodied and oily, with a light but infinitesimally tight carbonation. 8/10.

D: If the brief is what’s written on the bottle label – this brew fulfils the brief. TBH the hop flavours weren’t that noticeable in the heady chaos of my enjoyment of this beer, nor do I care – I feel like this Stout, much like FBS, stands taller without the hops. Anything else? Well it’s no Xocoveza… sure wish they would release Xocoveza again already. 9/10.

Food match: I would drink this for breakfast if I was king, some drunken king.