StewardofGondor (1934) - Washington Heights - Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 10, 2005
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Moderately thick pour and impenetrable black in color. A once dark tan head has left a sparse web in its place. Aroma has all indication of an impy: deep, dark rich chocolate, roasty, burnt almonds, singed bark, scant trace of ABV and pervasive cocoa espresso. Flavor heavily zings. Like a bitter espresso oil spill. Next sip, and it zings again, imitating a lick from a French roast press. Delinquent dark chocolate twirls from the flames and happily wreaks havoc on the palate. This bitch is rich. Burnt breakfast toast adds a new layer of nuance, closely followed by yet another, this time in form of blackened oats clinging to the sides of Calphalon. Oily blanket and bitter unfoldings on the palate. Amped up and ready to play with a prolific hopping profile. Finishes like maple and brown sugar oatmeal that took liberty in its preparation by substituting espresso for water. A spawner of adjectives in its present youthful form, and destined to take on additional descriptors over time.
unclebleen (620) - California, USA - OCT 9, 2005
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
I bought this as a farwell to Michigan. I think this is the first stout Iíve tasted in 7+ months. Very dark with a really creamy and long lasting head. Tastes bitter sweet with a great smoothness on the finish with a hop bite as well. Had trouble finishing the bottle -- just wasnít used to the boldness on an Imperial Stout. Nice.
BBB63 (5601) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - OCT 9, 2005
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle served in my Expedition snifter:
Pours much like the Kzoo Stout, extremely dark with a beautiful creamy tan head and very good lacing. The aroma displays a interesting mix of heavy roasted and burnt malts working with a lot of citric and fleshy fruits. The piney hops are noticeable as well as some earthy and alcoholic vapors. The taste starts quite malty and earthy but quickly a bold statement of PNW style hop bitterness come pushing through. The beer has a components of mocha, coffee, plum, anise, molasses, and clove coming in and out through out the tasting. Much like Three Floyds Alpha Klaus, you will find this a hoppier version on a style. The feel is equally interesting, one part smooth and thick and one part lively and crisp. Nicely warming as well after finishing the glass.
I salute Bells for making a stout different from itís siblings. It isnít Expedition but could age to equal greatness. GET YA SOME!!!
Brodie (540) - Blowing Rock, North Carolina, USA - OCT 9, 2005
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Big aroma - chocolate, coffee, resiny hops, mixed fruit, and alcohol. Pretty close to black, small but dense tan head. Sweet, bitter, and tart all at the same time. All of the components from the aroma are in the flavor, with the hops standing out in particular, both in terms of citrus flavors and bitterness. Finishes with a lasting bitterness, both from roasted grains and hops. Full bodied, tongue coating, warming. Overall, it has tremendous potential. Right now itís a big, in-your-face imperial stout, with strong flavors on all fronts that I think are a little out-of-whack. With age, the sharpness of the flavors should mellow and meld together, at which point I think it will be amazing.
OldGrowth (2326) - North Carolina, USA - OCT 9, 2005
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle, from trade with JCW. Good aromas, chocolate/cocoa, little fruit- cherry/plum, perfume, and ABV, which to me had a vodka thing going on. Beautiful brownish black color, first pour had small head but I had poured it slow, when I did second pour nice big brownish beige head. Bittersweet flavors, like aromas. Had a viney, burnt, grapefruit thing that dominates. Maybe I should say baking chocolate and vodka. Thick body, viscous, creamy mouthfeel, Bitter, hot finish that has a powdery coating n the tongue. Definately brash, some age is going to do wonders. Bells is a masterful stout maker. Thanks JCW for this one.
DavidP (1745) - Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 8, 2005
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle. Pours with a viscous black body under a tick tan head that laces as it diminishes. Choclate kidís cereal and grapefruit flesh in the aroma. Holy crap is this ever a thick beer. I was pissed at paying $19 for a six pack but itís making more sense now that I sip it. Interestingly enough the first flavor that reigsters isnít the expected huge roasted malts but rather grapefruit and tart apple hops. Hops taking the lead in a I.S.? Pretty soon dogs and cats will be living together. Underneath the bright hops is chocolate milk and coffee. Some bittering hops come out towards the finish as the sweetness dies down. Despite the super-thick mouthfeel this beer isnít terribly sweet. I expected Dark Lord-level sweetness but I got Kalamazoo Stout instead. I have very high hops for aging this beer - 2 years from now those flavor hops will die down and this will be a super-rich sweet stout. Itís no slouch when fresh, though!
1FastSTi (3217) - Glendale, Wisconsin, USA - OCT 8, 2005
4.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: MAR 7, 2006 Picked up a 6 pack of this. Seemed to be quite expensive, but hopefully thatís a sign that this suckerís loaded with Malts. I popped the cap off of one and poured it into my snifter. The beer has a very dark molasses colored head thatís thick and creamy/rocky. The body is to be expected, really dark brown that appears black in quantity. Beautiful lacing. The aroma has a huge Pac NW hop aroma to it. Dark chocolate, citrus hops, molasses/brown sugar. The flavor is a roasted barley start that morphs into a semi-sweet chocolate, then come the citrus hops. Citrus with chocolate sometimes can be a mismatch. Not in this. During the finish, tons of thick molasses becomes overbearing. The palate is thick, creamy, and nice, but has a lingering stickiness that I donít really care for. Nice bitterness. Donít get me wrong, I like this but have had better beer. This is made with care and is high quality. 8, 5, 7, 4, 16 = 4.0
Dave gave me a bottle of this. It was much better in flavor. Mmmm... 4.4!
MikeMac (185) - Wyandotte, Michigan, USA - OCT 8, 2005
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: NOV 18, 2005 Aroma was strong with molasses, chocolate,roasted malt and citrus hops. Pored dark brown close to black with big tan head and heavy lacing. Flavor had chocloate and some molasses up front. finish had come citrus hop flavor and roast malt. Very nice!
Pailhead (4232) - Brownstown, Michigan, USA - OCT 7, 2005
4.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: JAN 12, 2006 Bottle: Strong aroma of chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, light roastiness, and piney hops. This is quite an impressive looking beer. Pours a dark brown with no transparency. Big creamy tan head with excellent retention. Excellent lacing. Lots of chocolate and molasses up front. Finishes with some grapefruit hoppiness and a hint of black coffee. A light warming affect in the finish. Has to the best mouthfeel that Iíve had in a beer. Very thick, chewy, and silky. Aging this can only improve it, and itís pretty damn good right now. I would say this has potential to exceed Expedition with some aging, but weíll see in time.
SuIIy (1984) - Burlington, Vermont, USA - OCT 7, 2005
4.3 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
12oz bottle. Strong aroma from the opening of the bottle. Lots of dank mocha and dry chocolate. Pours thick black with a small dark brown, chocolate milk head that dissipates quickly, leaving a thin ring around the body. Nose is big roasted malts and mocha, some coffee and molasses. First sip. WOW...possibly on of the top 3 thickest beers Ive encountered. Great palate that is smooth as silk, becomes bitter and stingy, then relaxes to let your mouth catch its breath. This was worth the wait. Leaves a thin layer of film on the glass. More and more different flavors come through with each sip it seems. some peppermint maybe? light, dry alcohol on some? very complex brew.