Ernest (7792) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - JAN 9, 2003
UPDATED: JUN 17, 2005 2005 bottle.
Head is initially small, frothy, dark brown, mostly diminishing.
Body is opaque black (flashlight tested).
Aroma is moderately malty (roasted grain, dark chocolate), lightly hoppy (resin, apricot), with notes of alcohol and licorice.
Flavor is heavily sweet, lightly acidic, moderately bitter.
Finish is moderately sweet, moderately acidic, heavily bitter.
Full body, syrupy/creamy texture, soft/lively carbonation, moderately alcoholic.
Much better than the [IMHO] ruined 2004 bottled batch (which had hardly any aroma [and what was there wasn’t that pleasant], was cloyingly/syrupy sweet, and had a disturbing mouthfeel like split-pea soup), which I dumped down the drain after several months of resting and an hour of sampling deliberation, but I still can’t say this one is quite in my top five Impy stouts. Very good overall, no doubt, but...the aroma just isn’t that powerful, complex, or exciting. It’s pretty extreme, decadent, and very well-balanced, flavor-wise, and is unusually thick and rich in the mouth, but the aroma is surpisingly ordinary for the style. Whereas some beers are more exciting to smell than drink (Unibroue), this is the reverse.
Ringo (963) - Loveland, Colorado, USA - JAN 9, 2003
March 2004 bomber. Virtually no head. Body is absolutely opaque black. Aroma is lightly malty (chocolate, molasses), lightly hoppy (resin, apricot), with a light note of soy sauce. Flavor is heavily sweet, lightly acidic, lightly bitter. Finish is moderately sweet, lightly acidic, lightly bitter. FULL body, syrupy/pea-soup texture, soft carbonation, lightly alcoholic. What I want to know is, what the hell happened (see review of previous year’s batch below) to screw this up so badly? The aroma is extremely faint and uninteresting, for starters (even in my usual brandy snifter sampling glass, still almost nothing there to smell). Literally the consistency of split-pea soup (and that’s before we get down to the bottom of the bottle where Lovecraftian horror awaits)...I used to think the thicker the better, but this is beyond the limits of enjoyment...it’s downright disconcerting and unpleasant to "drink". Just too many suspended solids. The flavor balance is mostly as before, virtually all sweetness with little to balance. Of course it’s opaque which makes the appearance score high, but damn, this is an absolute catastrophe, to the tune of Drain Pour Blues. This is one of the worst years for Imperial Stouts, I must say! Avery, Brooklyn, and now this one fail to live up to past batches, but this one is by far the most disappointing. (4/4/5/2/9 = 2.4)
12 oz bottle filled from a growler (Jan/03). Head is initially small, frothy, brown, mostly diminishing. Body is absolutely opaque black. Aroma is heavily malty (milk & dark chocolate, caramel, molasses, nutty, mild coffee), with notes of ruby port, raisin, toffee, vanilla, maple syrup, etc., hint of alcohol. Flavor is heavily sweet, lightly acidic, lightly bitter. Finish is moderately sweet, lightly acidic, lightly bitter. Medium to full body, oily texture, soft carbonation, lightly alcoholic. (10/5/6/4/16 = 4.1)
UPDATED: JAN 12, 2003 This beer has the thickness of Triple Bock, but in this case it tastes great! Thick almost to a fault, it really was the consistency of oil. But it tastes nothing like oil. I did not notice the alcohol in the taste, but felt it warming the belly. This is some good stuff. BATLMULLET (127) - Highland, Indiana, USA - JAN 4, 2003
The beer that eats like a meal! Maybe the most unbalanced FFF beer with respect to malt sweetness...but that's good for an Imperial. Raisiny sweetness and an alcohol follow-through. Still plenty hoppy to offset. So black that it actually absorbs light...no really, I've seen it! Schroppfy (2360) - Łódż, Warsaw, Poland; Michigan, Ohio, USA - JAN 3, 2003
UPDATED: AUG 3, 2003 Thanks to hopsrus for this gem. 13%...wow, it sure hides it well. Quite drinkable, also mighty sweet. There's a fair load of hops in here (not quite Storm King level), but to my mind it needs a touch more to balance out the sweetness, exactly as alcfron says. Thick, incredibly so. Super plummy, almost winey, oh yes cocoa... Rockinout (966) - Kent, Ohio, USA - JAN 1, 2003
Black as the middle of the Milky Way, dark brown head. Taste and nose of dark chocolate and cocoa. Fills my mouth with roasty cocoa goodness. Nice hops balance the brew as well, although seems to get sweeter as it warms more. Alcohol well hidden. Sticky at times. I'm happy to have alcfron invite me to join him for a glass of this fine beer. Thanks to marinaro500 for getting it to him.
Drew (2411) - Kent, Ohio, USA - DEC 30, 2002
Come over to the dark side, young Jedi...This is the darkest brew ever; and looking straight down at the head, you would think it's a rich chocolate malt milkshake. We held it up to 500 watt spotlights and nothing shone thru. Aroma was not as strong as the taste. It seems that many imperials lean towards the roasty side, this one's all about the chocolate - like Hershey's Dark Extreme. I wouldn't exactly call the palate "thick", more "full" - when I took a sip, my entire mouth was filled with flavors - not just the tongue - the roof of my mouth, the back of my throat; and warmth as it oozes down to my belly. It left a sticky residue everywhere. The sweetness on the sides became cloying as it warmed, but at the same time, some medium roasted flavors came out. I know there's some hops in there, but it could actually use a little more to dry out the sweetness. Did not taste the 13% at all, but felt it a little. Marinaro500 - many many thanks to you for bringing the growler to Cleveland! Kodos (205) - USA - DEC 24, 2002
I have tried quite a few Russian Imp's. This has got to be the TOP! On tap. Dark, dark, dark. Not much aroma...? Super complex tastes...Chocolate, fruity/plum/nuts...so much more...Vanilla in the end. Is there alcohol in this? Wait a minute...Heat in my chest says yes...Oh yeah, 13+%. Not apparent in the taste at all. This has got to be Nick's BEST creation yet...PLEASE continue this beer . We ALL want moremoremore!!! raindog (560) - Evansville, Indiana, USA - DEC 22, 2002
UPDATED: JUN 6, 2006 Black,but not the darkest,with a nitro looking tan head.Bubbles are moving toward the top at the slowest rate I have ever seen.They are struggling.Aroma is more restrained than expected.Aromas of charcoal,molasses,tar,roast,chocolate(dark) dark fruit.Mouthfeel is soft,but intensely thick.Mouth is full of molassses,whiskey tinge,coffee,roast-burnt flavors.After a minute some caramel,grainy flavors lead to a brutal malty,charcoal,finish.Hops are actually detectable but in the limelight.As it warms Vanilla is all over the finish.Got to be one of the thickest beers I have ever had,and sometimes that is not a good thing. TAR (2779) - Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, USA - DEC 22, 2002
UPDATED: MAY 16, 2005 2005 issue: Not-quite-opaque molasses brown. Sandy, finely-bubbled mocha foam. Alluring nose of rich java, mocha chocolate, and molasses. Lightly yeasty and vaporously alcoholic, as well, with glazed pecan, burnt toffee, and vanilla hints. Rush of velvety-soft carbonation fills the palate. Lip-sealing mixture of chocolate fudge and molasses quell the cheek-buckling alcohol. Intensity is off the charts, but there’s loads of char, sharply-vinous fruitiness, and alcohol to assist the initially-overt richness. Takes on more graininess as alcohol couples with the firm roastiness to slowly pierce the wall of viscosity. Brief soft coffee bean and cinnamon flavor gracefully collide with the delicate underbelly of assorted berries and ink. Closes with a sizeable black malt/burnt cookie bite backed with a flash of arid roast and rich java. There’s nothing terribly unique about this (with the exception of the interesting yeast character), but it certainly is a huge improvement upon last year’s [bottled] version, which was less lush and overly viscous in the mouth. Much like Expedition right out the gate, it’s rough around the edges, albeit highly delicious, when fresh, but like Expedition, this will become more magical with each passing moment in the cellar.. AustinMilbarge (681) - Denver, Colorado, USA - DEC 22, 2002
UPDATED: JUN 10, 2003 If I try to describe this beer I will be doing a disservice to the quality and taste. The flavor is very complex and sits extremely well on the tongue. The color is fantastic, the aroma too. I have to thank jskendzel for turning me on to Three Floyds and bringing me to the brewery.