Samuel Smith’s “Imperial Stout” Review (#021)

Imperial Stout
By Samuel Smith
N. Yorkshire, England

From The Brewery

History
Russian imperial stout was originally brewed in Great Britain to satisfy the Czarist courts, who were great connoisseurs of Champagne, caviar and the art of the table. Because it was transported across the freezing Baltic, Russian imperial stout was brewed with a high level of alcohol

Taste
Rich, flavorful, deep chocolate color, scented and roasted barley nose. Complexity of malt, hops, alcohol and yeast.

Serving Suggestions
Espresso, Stilton and walnuts, New York cheesecake, steak au poivre, caviar, Oysters Rockefeller, chocolate Baked Alaska. Easily hold its own in the company of cigars. Serve in a brandy snifter at 60 degrees.

Review:

Appearance:
I poured this thick, black, heavy beer into a Samuel Smith pint glass, releasing with it a thick tan/brown head, that left huge lacing. It stayed thick the whole glass down. It is extremely dense, allowing no light to pass through.

Smell:
Huge roast with coffee and bakers chocolate, and big sweet heat; very inviting.

Taste:
Roasted malts right up front, giving it a coffee and molasses start, followed up by balance with the hops which leads into the semi sweet drying finish. One of those beers that uses the dark roast bitterness in perfect balance with the hop bitterness, with a bit of a fruity heat finish after a few big sips and as it warms up.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to heavy bodied, with a rounded creamy mouthfeel, protected and maintained by that awesome head retention.  Not too heavy to cut down the amount you can drink.

Drinkability:
This beer is bold and balanced. Even though it is 7.0% alcohol, that is on the lighter end of the spectrum compared to many other Imperial Stouts. This is one that you can drink easily and not be overbearing after a few sips. I love huge beers, but this one does not need to swing for the fences in size, because it is so balanced and simply, perfect.

Notes:
I think I summed up in the drinkability section about how I feel. I have had most of the Samuel Smith beers before – this one I had not – and since I bought a few and the pint glass half a month ago, I have been trying a few here and there, and am going to wind up finishing up tasting their lineup very soon. They are a historical brewery making some damn good, solid, consistent beers.  I look forward to trying a few more.

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