GarrettB (1144) - San Diego, California, USA - JAN 2, 2007
4.1 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: OCT 14, 2007 My sampling of the Speedway Stout came after numerous laps on the Imperial Stout circuit. I must say, the gamut of stouts is a lot more uniform than I would have thought. I find myself writing down the same aromas and flavors over and over again. Yet my tongue, my olfactory and my eyes tell me that there is a personality to each one, distinct and apropos. I had to reconcile that sensory observation with my notes whose monotony was beginning to take its toll on my perception of Imperial Stouts. Things like chocolate, coffee, malts and muscat are ubiquitous. But each stout arranges them differently. That is, a unique orientation of the flavors that are seemingly common to all imperial stouts. It’s like a game of Go. Two players combat each other for a Boolean outcome of victory or defeat. The pieces are the same, the board is static and the rules are rigid, but each game is a flourishing expression of the tactical smarts and personality of the players. Using a standardized and immutable template we can produce individual expression. So what does AleSmith’s Speedway Stout have above all others? Its configuration, or it’s balance is perceptibly superior. Speedway Stout pours with a fecund soil brown head, beneath which the body roils with carbonation. Still, it is tar black and gives the odd impression that it oozes like sludge but retains enough beer like qualities to allow gas to push up to the head. A small cloud stretches from the mouth of the glass deftly striking the drinker’s nose with ample coffee notes – lots of deep, dark coffee smells that I associate with over-priced coffee houses. Married to the coffee is a whiff of sweet cream, turning the bitter smell of the pedestrian’s beverage into a drink more fitting for an intellectual parlor. There is also dark chocolate, whose bitterness and high coco content whet one’s mouth for a velvety chocolate dessert. Minor aromas include muscat, whose diminutive place here is accented and emphasized elsewhere in other stouts, thereby reinforcing the point made above. And finally a strange smell of attic dust tickles the nose as if I had just wiped off an old dusty picture too close to my face. On the tongue the Speedway Stout gently glides, but with a velocity familiar to more aggressive beers. A considerable raking of alcohol scrapes the tongue and arraigns the senses, but the other composite flavors occupy enough space to peek through. The titanic coffee, chocolate flavors and a newfound bit raisin poke through in a synchronized balance that gives the Speedway Stout its distinguishing shine. I only wish the alcohol and carbonation were pulled back just a hair to allow the flavors to express themselves more audibly. Still, the Speedway Stout is a pinnacle in Imperial Stout composition. All the notes form perfectly to make flavorful and well weighted chords, as a good stout should do. And here’s another thanks to the Speedway Stout for forcing me to ponder on the matter and come up with a solution that satisfied me and appreciably explained why all stouts seemed to taste the same but left very different impressions on my palate.
RedXIII (127) - Powell, Ohio, USA - DEC 29, 2006
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: DEC 24, 2008 Very dark, opaque pour with a dark brown head that quickly disappears. Aroma is warm roasted coffee bean. Taste sells this beer though, with more coffee flavor than a starbucks. Bitter, creamy coffee with bitter hops. This really has a warm, bold taste with great balance.
skibumphishead (259) - Massachusetts, USA - DEC 25, 2006
4.9 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
750 on christmas night with Brie... delicious christmas gift! Dark with a nice nutty flavor with raisins and chocolate. warm, sweet flavor balances out the high alcohol content... perfect flavors and gentle hint of carbonation make this stout outstanding
ExSpectator (65) - Cleveland, Ohio, USA - DEC 24, 2006
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Pours dark brown, black in the glass. Aroma is strongly of coffee. Flavor of coffee, along with chocolate, vanilla, roasted malts, and some slight alcohol. Very balanced, and very rich. Very good.
kepano (247) - Los Angeles, California, USA - DEC 21, 2006
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
The once unattainable, unfathomable and utterly divine AleSmith was brought within my reach and suddenly its celestial might was reduced to a very human standing. The eulogistic comments reverberated throughout the community suggested phantasmagorian flavors, incomprehensible to the mere mortal. The reality my quatuor revealed was simply a set of well-crafted ales. Speedway had the momentum of several Imperial Stouts behind it, notably Stone’s, and didn’t fail to impress. The body was purely black, while cinnamon brown foam coagulated densely at the top. The aroma was filled with prominent coffee, and not the charcoal you find in too many Americanized stouts, smooth with a hint of chocolate and vanilla, reminiscent of a sweet cappuccino with a touch of brown sugar and rich caramel. Simple, satisfying. The palate followed suit, opulent but balanced, with a bit of bitterness, a dab of dryness and the whisper of hops. Creamy vanilla, dark chocolate and cardamom add to the subtle complexity that is only revealed after some resting, which also serves to appease the initially vivacious carbonation. What more is there to say? AleSmith has convincingly produced one of the best Imperial Stouts I’ve tasted, but don’t expect it to change your life.
zebracakes (1339) - Washington DC, USA - DEC 20, 2006
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Bottle, thanks to CMUBEERMAN. Pours tar. Aroma is molasses, pine, caramel, coffee, alcohol, licorice. Flavor is the same, also chocolatey and bitter. This beer is thick and very strong. The 12% will knock you on your butt.
Sombeast (151) - Pewaukee, Wisconsin, USA - DEC 16, 2006
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: MAY 5, 2007 Updated 5/5/07 @ Pewaukee Tastign II, hand-i,ported from San Diego. First pour, minimal head. Aroma rocks, its got my favorite impy stout yeasty chocolate coffee pudding aroma and flavor. Mmmmmm!
Sampled at the Falls Tasting: Smells like a shot of Starbucks double shot espresso. Black with a light brown head. Tastes of a dark roast espresso, dry and lightly astringent. Thin mouthfeel with some creaminess.
JK (4811) - St. Louis Park, Minnesota, USA - DEC 16, 2006
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Much thanks to Joebrew for sharing this excellent beer. Very comparable to Peche Mortel. Aroma is strong with coffee and roasted malt. A black beer, very little head and lightly carbonated. Flavor has a lot more coffee, but also bitter chocolate and sweet fermenting fruit flavors including raisin. The palate is excellent and makes the good flavors that much better.
PWalk (337) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - DEC 16, 2006
4.2 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Well worth the wait. This stout has it all and if it had boobs I’d probably marry it. Coffee was heavier than I expected but very good. Big roasted flavor combined with sweet caramel really lent itself to an exquisite flavor and palate. Took me two hours to get through the bottle and I loved every second. Thanks Naven.
Ibrew2or3 (7252) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - DEC 13, 2006
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: MAR 25, 2009 0.75L bottle from 2006 shared with crizay and Degarth. It poured very very dark with tall frothy light brown head. The aroma has a strong coffee influence along with some sweet caramel. The flavor is very smooth and creamy and velvety. I taste French roast coffee beans (lots of coffee), sweet caramel, semi sweet chocolate, toffee and a light dark fruitiness. Silky smooth and delicious flavor with absolutely no sense of the ABV. Wow, great beer.