Sunday, April 14, 2013

New England Imperial Stout Trooper

4.5
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (852) - Albany, New York, USA - APR 14, 2013
I poured a 500ml bottle into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date. It cost $8.49 ($0.50 per ounce).

Appearance: A dark brown out of the bottle with an ink-like, ultra-black hue in the glass. Forms a large, brown, frothy head which laces and retains wonderfully.

Smell: A bit on the mild side, but with a standard imperial stout aroma of black licorice, roasted malt and dark chocolate.

Taste: It seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve had a regular, non-flavored imperial stout that’s really amazed me. New England Brewing’s "Imperial Stout Trooper" has, thankfully, ended that streak. This is a delicious palette that’s as robust and complex as some of the highest-ranked chocolate, coffee, oatmeal, milk, cream and Russian stout styles out there, but isn’t actually one of those niche styles (as far as I can tell). It shows that you don’t have to be an obese brew to have big taste.

Intense rich sweetness as soon as it hits the tongue - black licorice, chocolate-covered cherry, and a hint of vanilla or wood. Though not strongly bitter, there is a significant hop presence from beginning to end, complemented by roasted malt, though it’s never dry per se. A strong bitter bite at the crest of the swig, which quickly recedes and gives way to rich sweetness of milk chocolate, molasses, and a hint of citrus. The aftertaste is akin to Kailua with a slightly milky character plus liqueur flavor and sweetness. Yet at no point is it boozy or cloying - now that’s a well-balanced beer.

Drinkability: Imperial Stout Trooper is full-bodied for sure, but I was genuinely impressed by how drinkable it is. Though not a mammoth beer at 8.5% ABV, it’s definitely on the heavier side but never feels like it. The mouthfeel is thick, but soft and smooth with no oily or syrupy texture. It goes down so easily I actually have to concentrate to sip it slowly instead of slugging it back. This would make a great dessert brew and is best enjoyed alone, and the 500ml bottle is the perfect serving size. 
Grade: 10/10