Thursday, 26 March 2015

Smuttynose Imperial Stout

I spotted Smuttynose's Imperial Stout at my local liquor store and was instantly drawn to it. It has a beautiful 650mL bottle adorned with a cool map, it contains 10% alcohol, and most of all, my prior brushes with Smuttynose products have been excellent--see my review of their outstanding IPA, for instance. According to a banner across the top of the label, the Imperial Stout is part of "The Smuttynose BIG BEER Series".

Brewed in Hampton, New Hampshire,  by Smuttynose Brewing Company, this hefty stout is coal black and pours with a froth of tan head. According to the website, this stuff checks in at an extremely muscular 107 IBUs! It has a strong and busy nose that incorporates notes of leather, dried fruit, pipe tobacco and a java-style bitterness. It's flavour is equally potent and crowded. It begins with sweet, boozy malt notes that have raisin and oak leanings. Behind that, the beer opens up to espresso and tobacco elements. Through it all. Smutty's Imperial Stout packs a strong alcoholic punch that's warm but not withering.

This truly is a BIG BEER, but not a brutish one. It has much more than potency to fall back on. There is a complicated flavour progression that ranges from fruitcake to after-dinner cigar. It's bitter, but not out of proportion, and it has black coffee notes without resorting to using beans in the process. As the beer progresses, sweeter notes gain momentum--not to the point of being objectionable, but with more vigour than I'd have liked. This is a quality strong ale, and a stout worth sharing with friends after dinner. Intrepid drinkers tackling it alone ought to eat first and leave the car at home!

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.*  
*Since my lovely wife is a 10 out of 10, I was hoping to find a beer to match in honour of her birthday. The task proved too much. This beer, while excellent, is a 9. Happy birthday, Love! You're one of a kind!

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