Sunday, August 25, 2013

Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout

4.5
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (954) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 25, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into a goblet. It was bottled on 2/4/13 and cost $4.49 ($0.37 per ounce).

Appearance: Just looks thick and viscous flowing out the bottle. Body is extremely dark with a brown frothy head. It mostly dissipates, but does leave some lacing, which is impressive for such a big beer.

Smell: A strong aroma of dark malt, espresso, and milk chocolate candy. No alcohol presence.

Taste: Otter Creek is a brewery known for making pretty mainstream stuff that you can buy in the supermarket. I’ve enjoyed a few of their beers, but some have been unimpressive. When I heard several people recommend I try their Russian Imperial Stout I was surprised to hear it. Now that I’ve drank it myself I can see why everyone’s raving. This is a quality RIS that can hang with the big boys as it’s robust, complex and highly drinkable.

The first taste I notice is sweet milk chocolate. It almost seems sugary, though I doubt this beer is brewed with any actual chocolate or other additives. Beers of the style tend to have a strong red grape flavor, and while that taste is present here, it takes a backseat to deeply roasted (but not burnt) malt and iced coffee flavor, balanced by a strong hop presence. The label indicates the beer is 65 IBUs, which actually seems a bit low since big imperial stouts tend to be high in bitterness to balance out the intense malty sweetness. I think a lot of balance is being done by the malt’s inherent coffee and roasty flavors. There’s some alcohol warmth and flavor as it finishes, but it actually complements the palette quite well. I have to say I’m floored by how good this beer is, since it can definitely hang with the big names of the style.

Drinkability: A delicious imperial stout is a lot less appreciable if it’s hard to drink. Thankfully, Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout doesn’t have that problem as it has a soft, comfortable mouthfeel with a velvety texture. It goes down smooth with a slight hoppy bite on the finish, but leaves no lingering aftertaste other than some chocolate notes. It does not nearly feel as heavy its 10% ABV weight. Though there is alcohol warmth, it’s not distracting. That seems to be what separates a great RIS from an average one. 
Grade: 10/10