Saturday, February 02, 2008

This Shit is Serious

Stouts have been on my mind a lot these past few weeks. Not just any stouts, but Russian Imperial Stouts. Imperial meaning big. Way big. Chocolate, toffee, roasted coffee, 10 percent big. They seem to have come to popularity in mid- to late-19th century, as the Empress of Russia was a huge fan of the style, importing stouts and porters for her and her crew. They can take extensive cellaring--25 years in some cases, but more often 3 or 4, or, if you're like me, a couple weeks.

I was working my way through some of the more readily available ones--Victory Storm King, Bell's Expedition Stout, North Coast Rasputin--to do a review, when I got an email inviting me to a private tasting of stouts at Thomas Liquors.

Now, I expected a few people, maybe 4 or 5 bottles. No, 8 people, 18 beers. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad that I left my bottle of 06 Dark Lord from Three Floyds at home for another time. This is what the end of the night looked like:
If you can't read the labels, those are imperial stouts from (L-R):
Stone
Rogue
Southern Tier
Sprecher
Great Divide 07
Great Divide Oak Aged
Great Divide 04
North Coast
Bells Expedition
Bells Batch 7000
Nils Oscar
Milkeller
Surly
Fish Eye
Dog Fish Head
├ślfabrikken
Missing from the the photo:
Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery
Leinenkugels

Lots of crazy shit there. By the 5th or 6th one, the ability of my palate to pass accurate messages to my brain was seriously diminished, but I think my favorites were the Bell's 7000, Stone, Great Divide 04 and Surly. All dark, syrupy but smooth, complex. Least favorite was the Sprecher.

[Ok I gotta get this out. Sprecher has a problem with their water, maybe their yeast, or something. Most of their beers have an after-taste heavy in iron. Not pleasant. At all. It's unfortunate, because they produce several great styles which have a lot of potential, if it weren't for the rural water taste. You know what I'm talking about.]

But I digress. If you want to take in one or two, I would suggest heading to someplace like The Cellars which sells single bottles. Or throw down the $12 - $14 for a sixer of Bell's or Victory, and store several away for a few years. If ya don't like 'em, give 'em to me in a year or two.

1 comment:

Joe Lencioni said...

daaaaaang. I'm officially jealous.