ClarkVV (3892) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - SEP 8, 2005
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Hand-bottled by Csbosox and generously delivered to myself. A 2005 growler of an early 2005 or late 2004 brewing? Consumed 9/7/2005. HUGE head, tan, thick, dense with very fine bubbles rising on the edges. Good and creamy. Great retention and provides tons of lacing as it recedes. This stuff was bottled from a growler, about 3 months ago and then sent to me, held for 3 more weeks and here it is, pouring a huge, well-retained head. That’s just incredible.
Smells of raisins, slight vinousness/grapeskins, rich roasted barley and dark berries. Faint coffee and very modest hops, just lightly floral and fresh. Thick and English-like, with prunes, raisins and dark chocolate galore! And all this while the head is still concealing much of the aroma! Ultra-opaque body, can’t even see red or violet tinges on the edges, though I know they must be there. Smells a lot like a rich Oatmeal stout, moreso than what you would think an American Imperial to be, but then, this is no cookie-cutter American Imperial, as I see from the description.
First sip introduces sweet caramel and toffee, with lightly bitter molasses in the back, to balance. Very English. Prunes, butter toffee, light coffeeish roast. Not as thick as I was expecting and quite dry on the end with some oily vinousness and roast, combining with lightly bitter, tastefully done hops. Almost like an English Barleywine, it’s rich, dark fruits and low hops apparency make it tremendously drinkable. Tiny bubbles have lost some steam, no doubt, but how this must have been fresh, I only dare to dream. The more it warms, the more a pleasing bitterness grows in the back of the mouth. Mouthfeel is silky, not oily or chewy, just luscious and lightly tickling as it goes down. One drawback is that right upon drinking, there is a bit of a gap in the flavor. Complexity dosent explode on the palate. Oh but that finish! The chocolate dipped prunes and green, leafy, juicy hops just come alive and stick in the back of your throat. An incredible IS, and so unique and elegant. Free State knows what’s up! Thanks so much Chris!
footbalm (1219) - Western Minneapolis Suburbs, Minnesota, USA - JUN 30, 2005
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Thanks to csbosox for this hand bottled sample.This is even darker than the Black Jack Porter.Lots of roasted malts and an earthy tone,Oatmeal??I like better than the porter but they are very close in lingering roasted malts,this one has a little bitterness.Thanks Chris.
BuckNaked (1230) - Tempe, Arizona, USA - MAY 13, 2005
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: MAY 14, 2005 Hand bottled by csbosox and shared with jeffin7: Dark brown, near black with ruby highlights and a very small light brown head. Aroma: citrus, grassy, floral hops, grains, roasted malts, light yeast. Full bodied, light carbonation (hand bottled), more chalky than the owd macs. Taste is much more bitter and hoppy than the owd macs, citrus/pine/floral hops, cereal, grains, roasted malts, wood. Finishes with bitter mild hop notes, bitter roasted malt, bakers chocolate.
jeffin7 (612) - Silver Spring, Maryland, USA - MAY 13, 2005
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
Hand bottled from a growler: Pours black with a thin layer of bubbles. Aroma load of citric hops, chocolate, roast malts. Flavor is fairly bitter citrus hops, chocolate, slight ash, roast malts. The huge hops in this one are very good but drowned out the malt. Still a top notch beer.
MartinT (7746) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAY 4, 2005
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Bottled by csbosox, shared by beerbuzzmontreal. Mega thanks to both!!
Roasty malt and a conifer forest of hops are well-balanced by the marrying sea of molasses. Steak tartar sits within, vibrant, throbbing.
Citrusy hops and roasted malt converge in a lasting but never overwhelming bitterness. Carbonation is pleasant for the style, and lets the tongue perceive vanilla and molasses. A basic example, and very well-done.
Another sturdy sargeant of the Free State army.
tiggmtl (4548) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - MAY 4, 2005
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Floral, spruce, earthy, orange, lightly meaty aroma with strong roastiness. Opaque dark brown with a decent cover of fine-bubbled tan head that recedes to ring and swirling cover. Strong bitterness is both earthy/leafy and roasty in character while thick maltiness is subdued. Hops and roasted malts play well together but somewhat overwhelm the sweetness. Medium-full body with fair carboantion and a thick, chewy texture. Bottle (from a growler) enjoyed with beerbuzzmontreal, MartinT, Olivier_MTL and Rastacouere.
OlivierMTL (711) - Quebec, CANADA - MAY 2, 2005
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
Couleur brune extrêmement obscure parsemée d’une généreuse mousse brune pale. Des notes très florales viennent agrémenter une forets de conifères dont le sol est recouvert de sang frais. Le niveau de carbonatation est plaisant et approprié au style. Flaveurs amérisantes très prononcées rappelant instantanément les houblons verts résineux semblent occuper beaucoup plus de terrain que le malt légèrement chocolaté. Une touche sulfurique suggérant le sang et la viande rouge est un peu plus apparente que souhaité. La finale est quelque peu rôtie et amérisante.
beerbuzzmontreal (3490) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAY 2, 2005
3.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours a pitch black color with a ring of light brown lace. Excellent aroma of floral and piney hops with subtle chocolate and roastyness. Excellent flavor of piney hops and chocolate with a subtle roastyness and a bitter finish. Light body, liquorous texture, soft carbonation. Huge thanks to csbosox for sending this !
Rastacouere (6123) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - MAY 1, 2005
3.7 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
Almost black. Decent off-white head tops it all. Once again, a bloody, bone-dry beer from Free State. Slight vegetal notes barely manage to get through the salty, earthy and very dry chocolate aromas. Stone like dryness contrasts both the cocoa and standing apart floral hops leaving a leafy and almost chalky finish. Heavily roasty and bitter finish, far more than most. Silky mouthfeel though, rock dry and showing a very low carbonation level. Thanks Denis!
csbosox (1222) - Prairie Village, Kansas, USA - MAR 21, 2005
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: JAN 12, 2008 Poured from a growler @ 52°. Served in a NB worthy glass. This is #10 for the Ironman. Poured dark, dark brown with a hazy khaki head, really just a haze and a head ring. Coats glass and tears up. Aroma is dark roasted malts and chocolate along with some dark fruits and some spicy hops. Nice aroma. The first thought when it hits my mouth is that the beer is thick and coats the mouth. It is also very malty and roasty, but not overly so. The start is sweeter with a bit of hops midway and a mellow finish. It is hard to believe that 78IBU’s is not enough for me, but I would like some more hops to offset this huge malt flavor. The hops flavor is there, but the bittering hops seem a bit light. The cascades, my favorite, seem buried underneath the malt. The flavor does have dark fruit and some spicy hops flavor..maybe as it warms the hops will come out, this is often the case with the Free State beers. I will let this rest for 5-10 minutes and finish my review. Well, 25 minutes later, the beer seems to be light and malty, but, alas, not a hop monster. It is good though, maybe the bigfoot ale preceeding it, whetted my hops appetite.
Re-rate 16oz glass served from the 5G keg that I bought (I love Free State!). I have figured out that this beer needs to be poured and ignored for a while. Under 50° this beer is all roast malt and aggressive hops, not bad, but certainly not shown it it’s best light. When allowed to warm up, this is a different beer. Aroma is roast, but not overly so, rich malt, lactose, dark fruits, black currants (Steve wasn’t kidding about the currant flavor from the N. Brewer hops) and a nice mix of hoppy flavors ranging from earthy and floral to light citrus. The color is deep dark black with a brilliant khaki head. Flavor is milk chocolate, dark fruits (prunes), moderate roast, and earthy, floral hops with a touch of citrus brightness deep in the background. Mouthfeel is substantial, but not oil thick. Such a nice beer...