Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout

Total Score: 9.05/10 Chocolate1Vanilla1Coffee1Tulipglass1

Milestone review #950! Oskar Blues Ten Fidy! Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout! More words followed by exclamation points!!! Been looking forward to this one for so long that it’s actually got some age on it now from sitting in my beer cupboard (my favouritest of all cupboards): canned date is Nov 6 2016. It also has a humorous cultural reference to the upcoming US election on the underside of the can with a message “MAKE MORDOR GREAT AGAIN” – little could we imagine the events in the last year as they’ve happened with old King Hair Plugs in charge… I guess he hasn’t plunged the world into nuclear catastrophe… yet. Well 1 year old Barrel-Aged Ten Fidy, this should be pretty damn good, so glad I “cellared” this can.

Poured from a 568ml can into a Duvel tulip.

A: The most portentous beer I’ve ever laid my eyes on, picture: inky depths of the deepest ocean where the largest dark leviathan lurks – this is a cannonball across the ships bow, a warning sign to those who may consider imbibing this rich and heady brew. It’s tits basically. Jet black with a thin chocolate head. 10/10.

S: Dark chocolate ganache, hint of vanilla and bourbon, more chocolate mudcake character – this is the most chocolaty brew I’ve whiffed that doesn’t proclaim chocolate as an ingredient. Hints of espresso and molasses round out the aroma. It’s not dump truck sweet, actually the balance is quite well played, I suspect the barrel-aging and cellaring for a year has helped considerably. 9/10.

T: Wow, yeah it’s sweet, but not OTT, bit like Founders Curmudgeon in this regard: sitting right on the border to OTT sweet-land. Flavour follows the nose – Dark chocolate ganache, mudcake, vanilla, bourbon, espresso and molasses. I was expecting a huge alcohol hit in this 12.8% ABV Goliath, especially after someone told me that this brew was “basically a boiler-maker”, it is there but I’ve had much worse – again I suspect cellaring this has paid dividends. Tasty drop this. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied but surprisingly not cloying, with a dense carbonation that would make the Germans jealous… doesn’t often happen that. 9/10.

D: This is an A+ brew from Oskar Blues (first one I’ve had of theirs, lucky me!) the year has been good for this black stallion, and I reckon it will only get better with age. Price-wise it’s as Xy as any other BA brew, so it’s difficult to begrudge it for that. This is a RIS to slowly sip in enjoyment with very few negatives… except it being bloody hard to get a hold of, cheers Oskar Blues! 9/10.

Food match: Cigars, the most smelly Cuban ones you can find.

 

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Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout 2015

Total Score: 8.7/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Wood1Tulipglass1

Review #900! Only 100 more reviews till I get a free sub and perhaps a captains hat (Seinfeld reference). So what better way to go out than with this barrel aged version of one of my favourite Russian Imperial Stouts: Sierra Nevada Narwhal. I review a lot of Sierra Nevada brews, and they rarely disappoint (except for Otra Vez of course), so I really wanted to save something special for #900 and it had to be something BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto], and dark, and barrel aged – well looks like we’ve found ourselves a tasty… and no I’m not going to attempt to drink the entire bottle tonight… 750mls of obsidian nectar of the Gods in our good friend Narwhal – really, really looking forward to this – is perhaps an understatement.

Poured from a 750ml corked & caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black like the inkiest depths of the vacuum of space with a thin tan ring that does little to offset the terror to be found in this dark murky soup. Less impressive beers abound freely in comparison to this Goliath. 9/10.

S: The aroma: Inescapable – a rich melange of sweet bourbon whiskey, dark fruits, molasses, a woody/oaky note, chicory, licorice, and cacao nibs. “Get down on your knees and pay me respect now” – Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout 2015. This aroma is scary assertive. 9/10.

T: Maybe it’s the 2 yrs age on it but this is nothing near as powerful as I expected from the aroma. First sip is a bit of a bourbon nip with a slight burn, dark fruits (raisin, plum) and the molasses/oaky note. Second sip comes in and dumps chicory, licorice and a raw espresso character. Aftertaste comes in with a touch of medicinal herb and espresso bitterness. 9/10.

M: Feels less viscous and heavy than regular Narwhal – which is a surprise I wasn’t even expecting! Mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation. 8/10.

D: It’s overall civilized, but at 12.9% ABV one gets the feeling that maybe “it’s a little too much”. Too much ABV, too much flavour going on – it’s not as good as regular Narwhal in that respect, regular Narwhal had more balance. So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that I would actually take a regular Narwhal over this, and that feels a bit of an odd statement from me – shouldn’t barrel aging make a regular beer better??? In the case of Narwhal for me the answer is a slightly perplexed “no”. Oy vey I’ve got a lot of barrel aged Narwhal to drink now… I’ve never been so daunted by a 750ml bottle of beer in my life… I need beer friends. 8/10.

Food match: I had cigars on regular Narwhal and it’s even more relevant here.

 

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Omnipollo Noa Pecan Mud Cake

Total Score: 8.7/10 Chocolate1Nut1Smoke1Tulipglass1

OMFG!!! I got my hands on another Omnipollo! It’s like angels kissing leprechauns and throwing them at me for good luck – that’s how excited I am right now. This is going to be the MOFO (look it up Millennials) experience of a lifetime! Well, maybe that was a touch of hyperbole there – this is going to be the MOFO experience of a beer-time! Yes, better. So what do we know about Noa Pecan Mud Cake? It’s going to be a rich pecan liquid fudge no doubt. It’s brewed with artificial and natural flavours. You know what I reckon it will be like? My beer review #700: Mikkeller Beer Geek Vanilla Shake… and we all remember how well that went (TL;DR It was rather tasty). Anyway, ado’s? We don’t need ‘em.

Poured from a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours absolutely black – like a dying star, even light cannot escape it! No head, save for a thin tan line – like the ring of Saturn, or as Greeks knew him: Kronos – God of time – for within this murky glass of blackness no time passes. I am in awe. 10/10.

S: Rich chocolate mud cake, pecan fudge, and praline. The aroma of this brew is indeed powerful and confected – this is one sweet ride I’ve signed up to. This is one of the more heady aromas I’ve encountered in a long while, my compulsion here is to whiff it unending, but of course it is a beer – I must eventually drink it… but damn, this is outstanding. 10/10.

T: Thick as syrup, but gladly the sugar content is contained surprisingly well. In fact everything is rather contained, leading to a flavour profile that is less exciting than expected. Flavours of: chocolate mud cake, pecan fudge, and praline, mingle with a dark roasted char, a bit of smoke, and a finish adds a hint of bitterness. Compared to Beer Geek Vanilla Shake, and granted I had over a year ago, this isn’t quite as delicious. Plus there’s an odd fake marshmallow flavour in there as well. 8/10.

M: Thick, highly viscous, up there with Founders body in its viscosity, with an almost tack flat carbonation, but it works… a bit of carbonation would have given this a head and ruined the portentous view anyway. 8/10.

D: I think Selassie was my Omnipollo meal ticket. This is just a teensy bit… and I hate myself for saying it: too much syrupy goodness. HOWEVER – if you’ve ever read my reviews and thought “that Doc, he’s a bit of a wuss” this will probably be right up your alley. Me? I’m probably going lie down now… I’m feeling a bit dizzy, damn all of these Omnipollo theatrics! 9/10.

Food match: Chocolate pecan mud cake for comparisons sake.

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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.

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Colonial Inquest Imperial Stout

Total Score: 8.8/10 Coffee1DarkFruits1Wood1Tulipglass1

Lordy this is one BIG 11.7% ABV brew from Colonial Brewing in Margaret River, WA. Considering the largest brew they do ATM is their Australian IPA at 6.5% it’s a bit of a step up. Also a step into the dark for a brewer normally known for their light brews. Justifiably I was excited to get my review shizzle on with this – I love a good Russian Imp Stout, and of course I also love my beers Bearing Immense Gusto (i.e. BIG). Colonial also have the distinction (for me at least) of having hands-down THE BEST can tops on any can I’ve seen – the entire lid lifts off, turning your can into a proper drinking vessel. I know it’s hard to understand my hyperbole here but please buy yourself a Colonial brew – then you will appreciate where I’m coming from.

Poured from a nifty-as-bro 375ml can where, and I may have mentioned this already: THE ENTIRE LID LIFTS OFF, into a Duvel tulip.

A: Looks positively full of syrupy goodness here – deep black cola body, is it opaque? Can’t tell. With a nice thick mocha-coloured head that ever slowly drops down to a thin blanket. Damn Colonial, you looking good! 9/10.

S: Red coffee cherries, dark fruits, and the tears of kittens – which have a berry-like note to them (believe me I’ve drunk many kitten tears over the years). This aroma is ominously fruity – like some sort of weird chewing gum marketed towards demon spawn. I’m going in! 8/10.

T: First up: This is a sugar bomb. Glad we got that out of the way because other than that there is a symphony of flavours going on: Red coffee cherries, lightly roasted coffee beans, dark fruits (more plum/prune than anything else), forest berries, a touch of oak as well… wait up! These are Baltic Porter flavours in a RIS package – that’s what it is! It’s all rather interesting in the flavour department, no doubt adding in Mandarina Bavaria hops has given this Stout such an intriguing cacophony of characters. Importantly though: It all works well. 9/10.

M: Heavy bodied and quiet viscous, Founders body viscous (aka Founders Breakfast Stout)? Almost… though I haven’t had FBS in ages so I’m not sure if my memory serves me well. Carbonation? Minimal but present. 9/10.

D: Colonial have made it hard for me not to like this beer, though it definitely requires an Insulin shot afterwards (and I’m not a Diabetic!). It’s BIG, it’s moody, it’s good and the only negative really is the sugar and the fact that there are 3.5 standard drinks in 1 can, I can’t even drive after 1 of these! 9/10.

Food match: If we’re going to drink kitten tears we may as well have roast puppy.

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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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