I’ve been having a great time hanging out with co-workers at a happy hour for a few of them who are moving on to bigger and better things. After having the Boulder Freshtracks, I thought I’d try something different. I ordered a beer, and the tap blew. The only only remaining one that looked good was the Schlafly Pale Ale. Guess what? That one blew too. To avoid further issues with the taps, I ordered this bottle, which I’d had on tap before, but hadn’t reviewed yet.
Location: Poured into a pilsner glass from the bottle at Station 220 in Bloomington, IL.
Numbers: 9% ABV, 75 IBUs, 300 Calories
Appearance & Aroma: It’s dark black in color with some faint ruby notes when held up to the light. There was a thin, tan head on it, which fell after a minute or so. There was a great roasty, chocolate aroma with hints of coffee and toffee.
Taste & Feel: The body was medium-to-full and the mouthfeel was smooth, but slightly crisp from the carbonation in it. Immediately up front, there were some dark chocolate like flavors with roastiness and coffee. The coffee and roasty flavors grew a bit more in the middle, and turned a bit bitter – with some slightly piney hoppiness in the finish. The dark chocolate and coffee flavors came back in the aftertaste and lingered for a few minutes.
Food Pairing: This is a dark beer with lots of coffee and chocolate flavors, it goes perfectly with both chocolate and cakey desserts. Also, if you’re going for a truly flavorful and manly meal, pair this big beer with a thick, well done steak.
Overall Impression: When it comes to Russian Imperial Stouts, this beer is typically mentioned as one of the standards of the style. It had everything you’d expect: big flavors of chocolate, coffee, and roastiness, mixed with a smoothness and high alcohol. I thought it was very good, and I’m not sure how long it was in the bottle, but I found it to be a little more crisp (and less smooth, creamy and velvety) than I was hoping. It’s still a very good beer and a standard for RIS beers.