Thursday, July 7, 2011

Durham Brewery Temptation

Just like the IPA, the Russian Imperial Stout style originated in England (and just like the IPA, America made it bigger and better ;). I've never actually had an RIS from the UK, so "Temptation" by the Durham Brewery will be my first. This beer was sent to me in a trade with (thanks again for the beer, Zak!). The label even has a CAMRA seal of approval! Let's see how this 10% ABV brew compares to the American versions I'm used to.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (630) - Albany, USA - JUL 5, 2011
I poured a 500ml bottle that I received in a trade with British beer blogger Zak Avery) into a Victorian stout glass.

Appearance: Jet black body with faint ruby red traces. Forms a fairly large, dark tan, soapy head which fades quickly, but never completely, but doesn’t leave any lacing.

Smell: The nose is akin to a smaller, more sessionable stout with a faint toasted malt aroma and hints of black cherry and raspberry. There is no alcohol detectable, although the smells that are present are rather subdued as well.

Taste: After reviewing several hundred beers I’ve recently lamented about how rare it is I find beers that finally taste different - Temptation is one of those beers. I’ve never had a Russian Imperial Stout from England before (where the style originated), but it was quite obvious after one sip just how different this beer is from the American brews I’m used to.

The palate starts off remarkably sweet for stout with strong notes of black cherry and black raspberry. It’s very close to ice cream flavors I’ve had. The middle is a little more bitter with a combination of burnt toast and coffee. The end imparts a slightly alcoholic taste and sensation of rubbing alcohol and flavored vodka. The cherry and raspberry flavors re-emerge sweeter and stronger with a slight spice note like black licorice.

However, despite all this complexity, the palate doesn’t knock my socks off. The alcohol distracts slightly from the flavors, and the beer grows more bitter as it warms (although the fruit flavors amplify as well).

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, but not obese. Very soft and gentle with mild warmth.

Drinkability: I love when big beers are light on their toes and Temptation is a perfect example. Weighing in at 10% ABV it drinks and feels like something half its size. The gentle mouthfeel and creamy texture make for an extremely smooth finish. A great beer to pair with cheesecake or ice cream.

Overall, a very tasty, pleasurable drinking experience.

Grade: 8/10

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