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
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.