Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sam Adams Imperial Stout

I'm a fan of the Boston Beer Co, makers of Sam Adams brews. I think they make an incredibly solid line of beer (even if they make the worst beer I've ever had). From their ubiquitous Sam Adams Lager (always an easy choice when its that or BMC products) to their boundary pushing Utopia they are a brewery that is at the forefront of ingenuity in my mind. Plus they do a lot of good for the beer community. From the Longshot Series of beers that allows home brewers the chance to have their recipe made and distributed by BBC, to the Hop Sharing program which allows those breweries who are running short on hops to buy some from BBC at a fair price. These show that Jim Koch is conscientious owner. The latest thing that has gotten me excited about Sam Adams is their Imperial Series of beers. All released in four packs they are an Imperial White, Imperial Stout and a Dopplebock. All have made it to our local Spec's so it was with great excitement that I picked up a four pack of Sam Adams Imperial Stout. Before we get into my tasting notes, a bit about the style.
The Style: First the technical bits (taken from the Beer Judges Certification Program). Aroma should be decidedly roasty with notes of fruity esters, hops, dark fruit and alcohol. The roasted malt usually takes on characteristics of coffee or dark chocolate. Color of course is dark black ranging from Jet black at its darkest to a slightly lighter dark reddish brown. The head is thick and usually very dark. Finally you're looking for a strong malty intensely roasty and bitter flavor. Hop bitterness can be mild (although not always the case) therefore the heavily roasted malts is what creates this bitterness. The beer can taste burnt at times like burnt espresso beans at it most intense. Alcohol content is usually between 8-12 percent and these are beers that can be aged. The history of this ale is pretty unique. When visiting England Russian Czarina Catherine the Great fell in love with British Stouts. When she left to return to Russia she brought back barrel loads, however, upon arrival these stouts had soured and spoiled. Needless to say Catherine the Great, was greatly pissed, so upon hearing of this a British brewery brewed a higher octane Stout, something that would be strong and hopefully survive the trip from England to Russian. Well it survived alright and Catherine the Great loved it, which is why we have a beer called Russian Imperial Stout that wasn't brewed in Russian, just brewed for them (well at least one Russian in particular).
The Beer: This one weighs in at 9.2% and pours an oily jet black with a good sized cafe colored head. Dark chocolate, raisins, figs are all apparent in the nose. The mouthfeel is thick, and chewy. I tasted burnt espresso, dark coco nibs, molasses, raisins, toffee. There is almost a chalky texture to this one that makes me feel like I am tasting a little bit of coco dust. A sense of a chocolate souffle. Very nice. Very little alcohol flavor to this one. Lacing up and down the sides of this glass. This is a good one for sure. It gets an A- from me. Here's what the folks at BA think.


Lee said...

Haven't had the others in the series yet, but the Imperial Pilsner is amazing.

Corbey said...

I thought the Sam Adams Imperial Stout was very good, but in this age of so many great micro-brewed stouts, I don't think it quite rises to the level of beers like Bell's Expedition Stout or Great Divide Yeti. I found it to be an honest basic beer, with no flavorings or gimmicks that might improve as it ages. From me, it gets a solid B.