Friday, February 24, 2012

Brown's Imperial Stout (2012 original review)

It may not seem like it, but this is, technically, THE rarest beer I've ever reviewed! Only 84 bottles were produced of Brown's Imperial Stout and I got two of them! :D Jay and I have been reppin' for Brown's right here in Troy, NY for years. They make a range of solid beers with a few that really stand out (especially their Whiskey Barrel Porter). This is my first time trying an imperial beer of theirs as most of their beers tend to be more drinkable, pub-style stuff under 6%. How would they do with a 10.4% brew?

Click here to watch my 2014 re-review:

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (621) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 21, 2012
Seems like every craft brewery is releasing their own ultra-rare imperial stout these days. A lot of people hate this trend, but I’m okay with it since, more often than not, these beers are really good and a great example of what American craft brewers can do regardless of size. The best example of that is Brown’s Imperial Stout, made in my hometown area of New York’s Capital District. They bottled this for the first time in 2012 and limited it to only 84 total bottles (and they were only $6 each - what a bargain!). While not the best imperial stout I’ve ever had, it’s still quite impressive considering it was only made with a few malts and one hop.

I poured a 22oz bottle into an official Brown’s tumbler.

Appearance: By far THE darkest beer I’ve ever seen! Liquid is as black as a black hole and it forms a huge, extremely dark brown, almost black foamy head. The lacing and retention on this beer is fantastic.

Smell: The usual imperial stout aroma of black licorice, black cherry, plum, and a touch of grain alcohol.

Taste: Because Brown’s Imperial Stout pours such a thick, foamy head, that initial taste of that initial swig is quite bitter. It’s a dry bitterness of roasted coffee and dark chocolate. Once the liquid passes the tongue it’s a whole new ballgame. Strong sweet notes of black cherry and plum with slight black licorice as it transitions to the finish. The final third of the palate is similar to the opening with the bittersweet flavors of dark chocolate, French roast coffee and just a touch of alcohol. It’s like a rum without the spice or a clear liquor with a touch of cinnamon.

That’s not to say this beer is absolutely delicious. There seems to be a noticeable lack of roasted malt and the sweet elements seem a little cloying. That being said, the balance of the palate overall is impressive as the sweet side never becomes sickly sweet and the bitter side never becomes too dry.

Drinkability: The bottle indicates the beer is 10.4% ABV, but the brewer’s website says 10.2%. So either way, you can tell Brown’s Imperial Stout is a pretty hefty beer. But unlike most double-digit ABV stouts, there is little to no alcohol presence here. Only the faintest hint of alcohol warmth, which is fine because it blends well with the natural tastes of the beer. The mouthfeel is fairly thick, but extremely soft. One of the most comfortable beers I’ve ever had, actually. The aftertaste is a tad dry and somewhat sticky, but easily tolerable. This would be an ideal pairing with dark, gamey meats or drank alone as a dessert.
Grade: 9/10

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