Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout

I received a 750ml bottle in a trade with a friend in Florida (thanks, Matt!). I split it with a friend and we each poured it into tulip glasses.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (826) - Albany, New York, USA - MAR 10, 2013
Appearance: Probably the blackest beer I’ve ever seen. Darker than spent motor oil with the darkest head I’ve ever seen. Literally a dark brown soapy texture. Not much lacing on the glass, but the head never completely dissipates.

Smell: Black licorice flavoring concentrate. Strong anise and subtle, but noticeable, sour grape or cherry. No raw alcohol presence.

Taste: I’ve had plenty of imperial stouts before, and the general notion is the rarer the better. Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout is quite rare and expensive (well, if you don’t live in Florida, that is). I’ve had other beers of this ilk and it’s definitely comparable. A strong, complex, robust body for sure. Strong syrupy sweetness up front with black licorice flavor sans spice. Dark chocolate sweetness through the middle with mild bitterness at the apogee and then a slightly sour grape and cherry on the back end. There’s a hint of sharp bitterness on the aftertaste, but it fades quickly.

So this is the epitome of a well-made Russian Imperial Stout, so why isn’t this a perfect beer for me? Only because it doesn’t have any features to it that I haven’t already had in other, easier-to-acquire beers of the style. I appreciate the fact it hides its alcohol extremely well and the palate is plenty complex. There’s a slight cloying feature as it warms, but it’s easily tolerable.

Drinkability: For a huge 11% ABV, Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout is amazingly easy to drink. The mouthfeel is thick, but not sticky, but the texture is soft and the finish is relatively clean considering so how big the beer is. It doesn’t feel as heavy as the statistics would make it seem. Though I wouldn’t recommend drinking an entire bottle by yourself.
 Grade: 9/10

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