bulldogp04 (19) - Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA - OCT 31, 2008
4.4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
’08 Darkness (served on tap):
Pours a pitch-black, viscous liquid. Not quite as thick as ’motor oil,’ as some would suggest. The darkness gives way to a brilliant, dark-tan head. Initial, one-finger head gives way to a small ring of bubbles as the beer warms and is consumed.
Aroma is of dark fruits, cocoa, baker’s chocolate, a little bit of burnt coffee, dark roasted malts, and actually has relatively hoppy overtones (although not citrusy, west-coast hoppy).
Mouthfeel starts off pretty thick and creamy, but finishes with a slight sensation of carbonated goodness.
Taste is of dark fruits, sweet malts, roasted coffee and malt, maraschino cherries, bitter chocolate, and even a slight bittering, tannin-like flavor. Bitterness is primarily due to the strong hop presence which shines through in the tangy flavor, as well as the lingering bitterness on the back of the palate after swallowing.
Drinkability is relatively good, despite the thick mouthfeel and heavy malt/roasted flavor that dominates this beer. The hops add a kick that help round off and balance this huge RIS. Still a borderline sipper, though.
Marsiblursi (2975) - Göteborg, SWEDEN - OCT 30, 2008
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: OCT 31, 2008 (Bottle, 2007, a gift from OSLO and Guerde) Pours black with creamy brown head. The aroma is perfect medium roasted/tiny burned with a nice, complex maltiness of creamy chocolate, caramel, dark bread and a whisper of tar and burned coffee beans. This bottle is a year old but there are still some aroma hops with tones of grapefruit, mild pine and resin. The thick maltiness disguises the alcohol very well. Also a bit vinous with hints of blue grapes, black cherries and black currant. Hints of yogurt, anise, black pepper, basil and vanilla. The flavour is fat malty with good blend of dark chocolate/cocoa, espresso coffee, tar, liquorice and dark caramel. Perfect balance between salty, sweet and bitter elements. Long, lingering, clean citric afterbitterness. The flavour hops brings grapefruit, resin and mild pine. The mouthfeel is round, soft and light oily without being sticky. Bit vinous in the flavor as well black currant and black cherries. Burned, roasted, black currant and hoppy finish. Near full-bodied. Wow. I love this.
kosko20 (350) - Hopewell Junction, New York, USA - OCT 28, 2008
5 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 20/20
The best Imp Stout I’ve had to date. Lives up to the hype, the hops make this beer. Perfect pour, dark black with very thick brown head, lacing all way down glass. Aroma is chocolate, vanilla and roasted malts balanced beautifully with hops. Flavor is chocolate, coffee, hops, dark fruits and some sugar. Palate is thick, creamy and smooth. Hmmm this deserves my 2nd 5 out of 5.
EddieB23 (1) - St. Paul, Minnesota, USA - OCT 27, 2008 does not count
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
Beautifully balanced and drinkable. Just the right amount of hops come through to ease the huge malt taste. Glad I waited in line for this one
EHopper (618) - Minnesota, USA - OCT 26, 2008
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
I have always liked dark, complex beers. A 30 year love affair. Ten months ago, I discovered, quite by accident, Ratebeer. Since that time I have reacquainted myself with quite a few brews from my past, and have had the pleasure tasting quite a few new that I learned of through Ratebeer. Now, after standing in line with my son and his friend for 2.5 hours Saturday, I have had the opportunity to taste what undoubtedly is the best beer I have ever had the pleasure to experience. It somehow manages to have a monster flavor, rich in malt and dark fruit, chocolate and rich, smooth coffee, and a wonderful, mystical undercurrent of hops, without any one character up staging the other. I am thrilled that I have five more bottles to share with others.
BeerBunker (709) - Burbank, Illinois, USA - OCT 26, 2008
4.8 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
Poured black with a large brown head. Huge aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, raisins, and vanilla. Taste is of roasted malts, burnt fruit, chocolate, oatmeal, and coffee. The huge malt taste is balanced out by a sharp hop bite. Very thick and sticky mouthfeel. The alcohol is not apparent in the taste. This is a huge beer, but highly drinkable. Definitely worth the hype.
nqualls (1452) - Nashville, Tennessee, USA - OCT 25, 2008
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: JAN 25, 2009 2008 Bottle. Poured an obsidian black with a two finger brown head. Aroma of roasted malt, burned sugar, bitter chocolate and some coffee, with a huge hop profile in the nose. Flavor is very complex. Flavor of sweet malt, dark fruit with a dry hop finish. Well balanced and the alcohol is not dominating. Great beer, but not as good as some others I’ve had. This was kind of like a combination of an IPA and an Imperial Stout.
Syd (920) - Waconia, Minnesota, USA - OCT 25, 2008
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: NOV 1, 2013 Bottle from 2008 batch pours dark with a monster tan head that clings leaving lots of lace. The aroma is chocolate, malt, roasted sugar, and pretty decent hops. The flavor is sweet, fruity, chocolaty, lots of dark dried fruit, prunes, with a perfectly balanced hop profile to make it all work together in an amazing way. There is a lot of flavor and complexity, but it never tilts or leans out of balance in any particular direction. It works and works well. The palate is smooth, yet not as rich as with other monster brews that are sometimes too much. This however, is a drinkable palate without becoming too much like a milk shake. The carbonation is there, manifested in micro sized bubbles. The alcohol is not in the flavor. Overall, this lives up to the anticipation. I’ve waited a long time to try this. It is worth the hype. Surly Darkness 2013. This is an Imperial Stout extraordinaire. The pour into a tulip is black, with just barely deep red hues around the edges in intense back light. A massive head forms that takes a while to diminish to a surface mat of foam. The aroma hits with dark dried fruit, citrus hops, coffee, chocolate, and sour cherry. The flavor is sweet, milk chocolate, cherries, hints of some citrus, and so well balanced. The mouth feel is velvet smooth with a bit of cleansing hop finish. This is the Imperial Stout that sets the standard. Truly perfect this year.
DalzAle (1899) - Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA - OCT 20, 2008
4.8 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 20/20
On tap at the brewery September 12th 2008. Beer pours almost black in color. Chocolate and coffee flavors were apparent. Very surprised that the alcohol flavor was barely noticeable considering the 10% ABV. Like drinking liquid velvet
FlacoAlto (3737) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - OCT 14, 2008
3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle Number 172, 2nd RB Tucson Tasting, Sampled September 2008
This beer pours with a frothy, thick textured, light brown colored head and is quite pitch black in color. The aroma has notes of chocolate and cocoa up front, but quickly gets to notes of dark roast and lightly acidic coffee. It has a lightly smoky aroma to it that is almost peat like at times and there is a roast plum fruitiness to it. This does not have as sweet / rich a malt base character to the aroma as I expected. This has a nice grain character that takes on umami laden notes that are a touch like teriyaki, but there is also some subtle licorice and mint notes. The roast character is definitely dominant in the nose, but there is other stuff going on that makes this quite the intriguing beer to be smelling.
As this beer first hits my tongue it feels very thick, chewy and is more sweet than the aroma suggested, but it is still roast malt dominated. There are flavors of coffee, bitter cocoa and burnt grain bitterness that lingers on in the finish with the amply bitter hop notes. Concentrated umami notes in the flavor of rich malt character and some notes that are picked up of a rich, savory, almost salty-smoke character as well as some flavors of burnt, dried plum.
This is subtle complex and it really grew on me as I worked my way through the beer; there is definitely lots of things going on in this beer and it is one of the better Imperial Stouts I have had in a while.