Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout

Total Score: 8.25/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Chocolate1Tulipglass1

Getting close to #850 I found this Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout that had been sitting at the back of the fridge since last year! I had been meaning to review it for so long however new beers kept popping up and it consequentially got pushed to the back. I’ve heard good things about this Dutch brewery, named after a village in one of the low-lying areas of the Netherlands that got flooded and disappeared off the maps, this Russian Imperial Stout being one of the most vaunted of their brews. I must admit the weather is primed for this 11% ABV RIS – being a chilly (for Brisbane at least) 16 degrees Celsius atm… so time to sit back, pop open a nice RIS and sip it slowly from my Duvel tulip, ahhh, life is good!

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Deep and rich mahogany body, hmmm, not bad, with a centimetre of dense khaki head. It’s a surprise that a beer this strong can even maintain a head, let alone one as luscious as this, excellent work. Lots of yeast clumps at the bottle of the glass, normal for a beer that has been in the fridge for about a year. 9/10.

S: Smells a treat too! Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, dark chocolate and an almost floral perfume round out the aroma. Hint of earthiness in there as well, this brew has definitely benefited from a short cellaring in the back of my fridge – when an RIS aroma is this good you just want to tuck straight in. 9/10.

T: The above characters: Rich espresso, red coffee cherries, vanilla, and dark chocolate come through well. Then it takes a decidedly dark fruit slant and throws dates and raisins at you. Touch on the sweeter side – though nothing out of the ordinary given the style. Finish is has a sharp espresso bitter note, a slight detraction from an overall splendid flavour profile. The 11% ABV is hardly noticeable as well, though I suspect this would not be the case with a fresher bottle. 8/10.

M: Decent but not perfect, mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation – the only real room for improvement with this brew (oh and the bitterness in the finish). 8/10.

D: Top shelf stuff this! That bitter note, and the thin carbonation were the only things that let Emelisse down. As far as I’m concerned (aware) this is the best RIS I’ve ever had from the Netherlands – a country not well known for Stout styles, however one that I will revisit in future when I spot another Stout from there. Lol, some American reviewer noted that there wasn’t enough bitterness with this brew… maybe I need to get my tongue checked? 8/10.

Food match: Roasted red meats, also chargrilled, with veggies to match, and cigars.

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Prancing Pony Magic Carpet Midnight Ride

Total Score: 8.4/10 Coffee1Oil1DarkFruits1Tulipglass1

“Well, you don’t know what we can find, why don’t you come with me little girl, on a magic carpet ride” – Steppenwolf. Yep, it’s a brew invoking the ole step-wolf, been a while since I listened to ‘Born to be Wild’ and the others. So what exactly is Prancing Pony Magic Carpet Midnight Ride? And why did they feel the need to add in the midnight? This brew is a 9% ABV Russian Imperial Stout that comes in a 500ml bottle. That’s 3.6 standard drinks right there! Prancing Pony, another decent South Australian brewer, sits above Mismatch, but below Pirate Life in my best SA brewer books. Their India Red Ale is probably in my top 5 for the style, but their Black Ale and their Amber is a bit OK. Time to get our magic carpet ride on.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Impressive opaque obsidian body with a reasonably thick 1 centimetre tan head that sticks around very well given the 9% ABV. Dark and tasty looking Russian Imperial is on the cards IMO, go Prancing Pony! 9/10.

S: Smells quite viscous… if such a thing is even possible. Aroma is dark chocolate, roasted coffee bean, hint of dark fruit and light cigar smoke. If there was a textbook of Australian beers made to a given style the entry for Russian Imperial Stout (so far) would have a picture of this brew. 8/10.

T: Nailed it. Hits like a flavour torpedo, your tongue is a battleship in this metaphor BTW. BIG & bold flavours of: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee (espresso) beans, hint of dark fruit and light cigar smoke – as noted above. Sugar? Yes, enough to warrant making another dentist appointment soon. Finish is still sweet with a touch of coffee bitterness to round it out. Is this too sweet? A bit, yes. The alcohol is pretty well hidden though, so it’s just a great classic RIS then. 9/10.

M: Quite syrupy on the body, almost more like Castrol GTX 20W50 engine oil than a beer, in fact this reminded me of the original 9% version of Harviestoun Old Engine Oil which I used to serve in a bar in Edinburgh – great stuff! Carbonation is light but dense. 9/10.

D: The amount of sugar in this beer really takes away its drinkability and I can feel my pancreas as I type this sentence, is that normal? It shouldn’t be normal… other than that this is a top-notch RIS from Prancing Pony, if this were a dryer RIS though it would be almost a 10/10, as it stands this is a sugar-bomb too many for me. Those readers who are pre-diabetes take heed. 7/10.

Food match: Something big and beefy to cut through that sweetness.

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Moon Dog Ogden Nashs Pash Rash

Total Score: 7.8/10 Raspberry1DarkFruits1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Moon Dog, those crazy SOB’s, have previously brewed this Redskins (lolly, candy to Yanks – not talking about my favourite NFL team here) infused Russian Imperial Stout. It must have been good, because they’ve bought it back for another round. I like Redskins (the lolly and the NFL team), so really this was an instabuy brew which showcases Moon Dog at their best: Making crazy experimental beers. Not like the wishy-washy version of Moon Dog that created the forgettable Mack Daddy – that was a bit of a fail. Moon Dog – please remain the crazy purveyors of experimental fermented alcoholic beverages that you are, don’t become yet another faceless entry-level craft brewer. PS: I miss Jumping the Shark (not a metaphor).

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Darkness in a glass – darker’n a black steer’s tookus on a moonless prairie night. With a thin khaki ring where a head might reside had this beer not been rocking 8.8% ABV. Looks formidable, that’s how like my Stouts too. 8/10.

S: Raspberry notes from the Redskins mingles well with red coffee cherries, espresso and plum – along with hints of other dark fruits. Looking forward to this one – it’s got a bit of a forest fruits vibe going on. I guess that’s the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself down through the generations. Westward the wagons, across the sands of time until we – ah, look at me. I’m ramblin’ again*. 8/10.

T: The Redskins come through milder than expected – it’s a raspberry note throughout the palate, however I was expecting this to be overly sweet, which it isn’t. Pleasant surprise really – as some of the last big ABV beers I’ve encountered have been too sweet. Rounding out the flavours are: Plum, coffee, dark chocolate and yep – you guessed it: Plenty of Raspberries. Finish is long and dry. Aftertaste lingers with that Redskins flavour, good stuff. 8/10.

M: Mid to light, very watery given the ABV, thin carbonation, needs work here. 6/10.

D: Moon Dog at their best – doing crazy shit… who else would have imagined Redskins would actually work in a beer? They actually give off a Raspberry flavour that tastes less artificial than other brews that use real fruit flavouring… I don’t want to name names but I could if pressed. In any case this was a surprisingly enjoyable, if watery, RIS that I would try again. 8/10.

Food match: Venison and other game meats – I can almost taste the combination!

*Yeah I watched Big Lebowski again for the 18th time, what of it?!

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Bacchus Brewing Barosski

Total Score: 8.4/10 RedWine1Coffee1DarkFruits1Tulipglass1

Gave this one a miss the first time I saw it, because you know: I can’t spend all my pennies on Bacchus beers (as much as I would like to), however I bumped into an fellow beerethren who rated this Shiraz Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout as their favourite Bacchus brew so far. Gauntlet down, red note ponied to the cashier, I left the bottle shop with bottle and change in hand, certain I would be the beer-drinking litmus test to some random and possibly spurious claims [Snickers is clearly the GOAT Bacchus]. Btw if you’re yet to get your hands on a Bacchus: Black Sheep in Brisbane stock them (i.e. get off your ass and get some Bacchus now).

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Despairingly black cola body with an appropriate (given the hefty 10.2% ABV) thin mocha lace ring inside the glass. The blackness within has all the hallmarks of a beer black hole – ready to suck me in with gravity more powerful than a thousand suns… it’s breathtaking – I highly suggest you try it. 9/10.

S: Deep plum, dark fruits, and shiraz characters slap you in the face like a giant facey-slappy thing. BIG stuff here, big, bold and unyielding. Hints of 80% dark chocolate and red coffee cherries add to the omnipotence of this brew. A touch of pepper in the background too… I’ll admit I’m not a fan of Shiraz wines (I find them too tannic) however this aroma is close to a masterstroke. 9/10.

T: Thankfully the flavour takes a step and a half back from that intimidating aroma and allows you to relax somewhat – I was worried for a second this would be too much even for me to handle. As above: deep plum/dark fruits/Shiraz/80% dark chocolate and red coffee cherries make for delightful RIS, which actually reminds me of the fruitiness a Baltic Porter – perhaps Ross should name the style as a Baltic Imperial Stout – it’s certainly where the BIS is at. Almost grapey note comes through as well. Finish is a slight choco/coffee bitterness. 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel is thinner and gassier than expected – medium bodied, could definitely benefit from more body – maybe oats in the next batch? 5/10.

D: A face-punch of a brew that displays Bacchus as a brewer that can rumble with the best of them. The Shiraz notes are defined and most importantly: they work well. Given that there are plenty barrel-aged beers out there now it is good to see a Australian wine barrels introduced in to the craft beer scene. Ross you are a legend, cheers to your inventive brain! 8/10.

Food match: I couldn’t imagine anything less than a chargrilled banquet here.

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Boatrocker Ramjet Starward Whiskey Barrel Aged Imperial Stout with Coffee 2016

Total Score: 8.9/10 DarkFruits1Coffee1Vegemite1Tulipglass1

Mouthful of a name aside I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while… it’s 2017 now, so no time like the present (aka “that time we live in now, that is the future, with flying cars and pizza drones… Google it brah!”). Now I’ve tried some Starward whiskey, the Solera cask one, and it was one tasty whiskey, fruity and sherry-forward. So we can join dots and whatnot to work out how the Barrel Aging has impacted this brew, and my money is on dark roasted coffee, dark fruits and a sherry hint… but then again I have been known to be wrong before… once… or twice even… sorry, I wasn’t keeping score there.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black body, obscene in its obsidian(ism), with a thin ring of dark mocha brown where a head would normally reside (this is a 10.6% ABV behemoth – don’t expect a head at this ABV and you won’t be disappointed folks). Impressive, most impressive [I’m sure I’ve used this Darth Vader quote before on a previous Russian Imperial Stout… still applies here though]. 9/10.

S: With rich ripe coffee berries, the aroma of raisins – crushed underfoot, sherry booze and a hint of vegemite, Boatrocker melds a mighty scent with which to clobber your olfactory senses like some gigantic odour-hammer. Sex Panther in a beer. 60% of the time – it works every time! [that doesn’t even make sense] 9/10.

T: Wow beer! This is a “wow” beer. Why am I even surprised? Barrel-aged in Starward casks – hat goes off. Flavour is long and complex, sherry, dark fruits (raisin, dark plum, date), roasted coffee mixed with ripe coffee berries, vanilla (from oak), vegemite and a solid belt of whiskey towards the finish – which has a slight coffee bitterness. Balance is decent, but it’s difficult to perfect a beer like this with so many competing flavours, overall it’s a touch on the sweet and boozy side. That said: Wow, this is good. My pancreas hurts now. 9/10.

M: Beer syrup, legit! Heavy, viscous-bodied with a thin and dense carbonation. 8/10.

D: This brew is a titan amongst brews. A no-nonsense heavy-hitter of a Barrel-aged monster, that brings you to the brink of ecstasy (and hangover) in a single sip. The only downside? Getting up in the morning – I’ll be feeling this one tomorrow for sure. Easily Boatrocker’s best brew yet! Keep rocking that boat guys, and I’ll keep buying your Barrel-aged beers 😉 It’s been a while since I’ve thought of Black Buffalo, however this made me think back to that venerable milestone. 9/10.

Food match: Cigars and sherry methinks!

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Moon Dog Black Lung VI Starward Whisky Barrel-Aged Smokey Stout

Total Score: 7.4/10 Smoke1DarkFruits1Earth1Tulipglass1

Even more of a mouthful than our last reviews name! I tried Starward Whisky [apparently the correct spelling!] for the first time the other day and it is a unique dram of the water of life that I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys their single malts but is looking for something a little different. It has a smoothness of flavour due to the use of the Solera process of fractional aging. This should definitely have a bearing on the overall flavour of this Black Lung – Moon Dog’s yearly Barrel-Aged release – which has so far had a blend of different barrels used from: Whisky and fresh oak to Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels. The one thing I’m hoping is that the peated malt doesn’t take over the flavour too much – I love peat but I want to taste the Starward barrel as well.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Zooush! Out the gates like a clapper this one (i.e. this is a ‘pour slowly’ drop). Dark brown, almost obsidian body with a 2 inch khaki head that slowwwwwly drops back. I did my taxes in the time it takes for this beers head to dissipate. 6/10.

S: Peaty like a glass of Ardbeg – borderline OTT (and I love Ardbeg!). Sherry/dark fruit characters intermingle with a whiff of nail polish (Methyl Acetate) and an earthy/dark chocolate note. This is a big smokey stout that demands your immediate and undivided attention. 7/10.

T: All of the above: Peat, sherry, dark fruits, nail polish and earthy/dark chocolate notes. It’s everything but the patio furniture! Even though there’s a great deal, almost a cacophony, happening on in the palate it’s still pretty decent. The Starward whisky providing that sherry/dark fruit overtone to this Black Lung. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation. 7/10.

D: Not for everyone… in fact I think only a small subset of craft beer and single-malt whiskey aficionados would enjoy this brew, but you’ve got to admire Moon Dog for going all-in… yet again! I’m curious to try other Black Lungs now to work out how distinct the flavour from the barrel is compared to previous attempts. I suspect there would be a notable difference between this and the other Black Lungs. One thing that didn’t do much for me was the peated malt – I felt it detracted rather than added to the overall flavour profile, jus saying. 7/10.

Food match: The skull on the bottle has the best suggestion: 6 corona cigars, smoked at the same time, whilst wearing a suit and tie.

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Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake

Total Score: 8.8/10 Vanilla1Coffee1Smoke1Tulipglass1

Well here we are: Beer review #700, another milestone another BIG beer – at 13% ABV Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake is no slouch, plus I’ve always been a fan of Mikkeller brews – there’s a real feel of Mad Brewer Scientist about the one-man party machine that is Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. Let’s talk about Vanilla Shake, which is from the much vaunted and sought-after Beer Geek series of Mikkeller brews. It’s got several things I love in a beer: Oatmeal, coffee and vanilla bean. Plus it’s Mikkeller, so it’ll be good (if not awesome). Just a note to my readers: I’m taking a short hiatus from reviewing to do up a top 100 list of beers – keep waiting/watching.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Strange: From first pour it looked as if it would have nary a head, like most high ABV brews, but then like the birth of the universe (because I was like there man) the most amazingly dense khaki head I’ve ever seen in a non-nitro beer formed and slowly decayed – how poetic Mikkeller! The body is obsidian black. 9/10.

S: A mad fusion of vanilla bean and cold drip coffee – fully one of the sweetest smelling brews I’ve encountered, which begs the question of whether there will be anything to balance it out with. Hints of powdered chocolate add to the gargantuan dessert-like aroma – I fully thought for a second there that my nose would dive right in to the glass. 8/10.

T: Soooo damn tasty! A syrupy coffee/vanilla concoction that hits the palate with a truckload of vanilla sugar then sweeps it away with bitter roasted coffee… towards the finish a kiss of smoke touches the back palate and lingers on like a dying campfire. Yes, this is one BIG brew, but it’s never chaotically so, it remains throughout a rich decadent and more importantly: harmonious experience. Bravo yet again Mikkeller! [you handsome bastard] 9/10.

M: Mouthfeel is like drinking something with a viscosity akin to honey with a soul-crushingly dense but light carbonation. Another reason why Oats rule man! 9/10.

D: This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime brews that is really quite nice but you wouldn’t have more than one in a sitting because it’s just so damn BIG and syrupy (and ever so slightly more bitter than I like), it’s borderline waaaay too much (like Black Buffalo) but it’s good to have these massive brews on occasion (as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere forever). I found this a fitting way to reach beer #700, and I’m looking forward to doing up my top 100 beers list. 9/10.

Food match: Bernard Black’s luxury pie.

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