poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had an expiration date of
1/25/14, leading me to believe it was about two and a half months old.
Appearance: Jet black opaque body. Forms a large, brown, frothy head which laces and retains very well.
Smell: Pine, flowers, citrus, some candy. Odd considering it’s an
imperial stout. In fact I don’t get much of the stout in the aroma.
Taste: I’m surprised SweetWater Happy Ending is marketed as an imperial
stout rather than a double Black IPA as it’s a beer that’s all about the
hops and not so much the beefy stout body. Though only 51 IBUs, it
drinks like a California-style hop bomb with intense piney bitterness
from beginning to end. It only grows stronger and drier as it reaches
the apex, and then gives way to some milk chocolate and black licorice
and leaves a slightly dry aftertaste. If I let it linger on the tongue,
the pine character grows a little stronger, as does a chocolate candy
taste. These are two flavors you wouldn’t think would work well
together, but they do here mostly because it’s not a 50/50 ration (more
like 90 hops/10 malts).
As it warms the classic imperial stout character becomes a little bit
stronger, but not all that much. You could easily give this beer to
someone under the guise of an imperial Black IPA and they would have no
trouble believing you. In fact, it’s kind of disappointing that I don’t
get more of the base stout character like roasted malt and a stronger
chocolate presence (no coffee either).
Drinkability: SweetWater Happy Ending doesn’t taste like an imperial
stout and it doesn’t drink like one, either. Though rather potent at 9%
ABV, there is no alcohol presence whatsoever. The body is more crisp
than your average impy stout with a body that’s more on the medium side
rather than anything viscous and sticky. It’s easy to sip or drink in
bigger gulps and the palette makes it rather versatile as it can stand
up to a strong meal or be enjoyed as a liquid dessert.