After drinking a French sour ale, Henry, Kevin and I decided to do something completely different for our second review - a Russian imperial stout made down south by the Terrapin Brewing Company. "Big Daddy Vlady's RIS" was sent to me from Mark "BikeBeerBBQ" of http://youtube.com/VideoBeerReviews (thanks, Mark!). As stauch capitalists, we take some well-deserved shots at the beer's glorification of a socialist/communist dictator. Let's just say that if Mark hadn't sent me this beer I never would have bought it myself. But anyway, this was a really fun review to shoot and unfortunately, the last time the three of us will do a beer review together for a while (possibly ever).
3.6AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
What’s in a name? Well, if you name something after notorious dictators it’s quite a big deal I’d say. That’s why I was reluctant to review Terrapin’s Big Daddy Vlady’s Russian Imperial Stout. I’d like to believe the entire name, label and marketing for this beer is meant to be a light-hearted satire of some sort, but frankly, there’s really NOTHING funny about glorifying a dictator whose political ideology has lead to the deaths of over 100 million people in multiple countries around the globe. Of course, the media never bats an eye when communists are depicted in ways like this. However, if a brewery was to come up with a Hitler Hefeweizen it would cause an international outrage.
Let’s just say that if this beer hadn’t been sent to me from a friend I never would have bought it, drank it or reviewed it. But since it was a gift, I’ll show my appreciation by doing so. What’s more, I’ll have to admit this is actually a pretty good beer!
I split a 22oz bomber with two friends, we each poured our servings into tulip glasses.
Appearance: Black as night, although seemingly thinner than your usual RIS. Only the slightest hint of ruby red, otherwise pitch black. I got a one-finger, tan, creamy head. It stuck around for a while and left minor lacing on the glass.
Smell: Espresso and semi-sweet chocolate. Deeply roasted coffee and barley. Some alcohol which later gives way to a sour, solvent-like smell. Distinct sour red grape scent as well, but not too strong.
Taste: Up front it’s a strong palate of espresso and bitter dark chocolate followed by a red wine taste. Very robust at first, but quickly mellows out. This drinks more like a coffee stout than an RIS, but without the dry bitterness that usually comes with a coffee beer. There’s a slight dairy quality, too. The beer becomes a little more sour as it warms, but remains tasty throughout.
Mouthfeel: Surprisingly creamy for a beer of the style. Only medium-bodied for such a statistically big beer. Bitterness lingers on the tongue momentarily.
Drinkability: For 10.25% ABV this beer definitely does not taste or drink like it. Little to no alcohol burn, even as it warms.
Overall, a very good dessert beer, but difficult to enjoy more than a single serving.