The story picks up again during our trip back from the homebrew store in Aurora. After I had decided to stop in for some review purchases at the highly acclaimed, world renowned Morris Beer Store, we had a while to go before we actually got there.
I had previously listened to a few podcasts of the Craft Beer Radio show and in one of the episodes, the guys were talking about a style of beer called Imperial Stout. I know what a stout is, having had a Guinness or two in the past. But the imperial part gave me a pause and made me wonder just how different is an Imperial stout from a plain old ordinary stout. All I had to go on were my taste memories of that Guinness session I had and also the Black and Tan videos that we did last year.
At the MBS, with the New Belgium Fat Tire in one hand, I had a free hand for the Saturday selection. I looked for an Imperial stout. One lap of the shelf yielded nothing so I started over, a little more slowly. There it was. Just below the wonderful Goose Island Pere Jacques were 4-packs of some Sam Adams beers. The one with my name on it was Sam Adams Imperial Stout.
A couple of facts slapped me in the face. For one, the beer was expensive. $10.99 for four bottles equated to $2.75 per bottle. Still cheaper than Soldier Field. Sam had included on the label the ABV. 9.2%. This was definitely a beer to be coddled and not slammed. I decided to go with it and dug a little deeper into my pocket.
Saturday produced another trip to the homebrew store. The wheat beer yeast we wanted just came in. At the end of the trip, I spent some time summerizing the Manly Garage for the warm spells that were sure to descend on us any minute. I cut up some firewood just to be safe.
I finlly had more time to read the label.
Samuel Adams Imperial Stout is our take on the stouts brewed by 18th century English brewers for the Russian Imperial Court of Catherine II. The special malted barley in this intese and massive brew delivers rich flavors like dark chocolate, coffee and anise.
Then, from the Sam website:
Samuel Adams Imperial Stout is our take on the traditional Russian Imperial Stouts from the 18th century. While this style originated in England, it is a style now known for being uniquely American as craft Brewers have taken this it to whole new level of flavor and complexity. We think we raised the bar again. Samuel Adams Imperial Stout is a massive beer filled with big, dark flavors. It has been a brewery favorite in recent years and we are excited to share this intense brew with you.
Beer time finally rolled around and I was eager to get started on what I was sure to be a pleasant albeit dark and roasty beer drinking session. I began with a fresh fire and a fresh Imperial Sam.
When I poured the beer into the glass, I was taken by surprise. The beer came out of the bottle looking like old, thin crankcase oil, almost completely black in color.The head came up nice and thick and dark brown and reminded of chocolate foam. I could not see though the liquid, it was so dark. The scent was almost non existent. This should be interesting.
Wow. The first sip hit right at the back of the throat with a slug of bitter, sort of like tasting baker’s chocolate straight out of the can. The taste was not unpleasant, but it was different. Some sweet came forward in ensuing sips and by that time my mouth was tamed into savoring this beer. The tastes were dominated by hints of coffee, chocolate and licorice as it was stated on the label. It wasn’t overwhelming it was just a steady pounding of these dark flavors piling on top of my taste buds. How nice.
Given from the way this beer looks, it was very full, robust and tasty without being too heavy on the palate. Roast and toast and black coffee with a chocolate topping. This beer is probably the creamiest, richest beer I’ve had. The flavor that remained after the swallow was akin to the aftermath of eating a Hershey bar or other confection but without all the sweet. I felt a little warmth in the stomach about 3/4 of the way through the first glass. This was obviously due to the high ABV (9.2%.) But there was no alcohol taste in the sipping.
This Sam Adams Imperial Stout would stand up against a Guinness any time. I’m almost positive that, in a sample of Sam versus Guinness, I’d choose Sam. The flavors were extraordinary. It was truly a beer drinking experience to remember.
This beer is a great sippin’ beer. Grab one and curl up with a good book just before bedtime. Share a couple of these with longtime friends or during those nostalgic, quiet moments at a family reunion. Watch the eyes of a Guinness drinker widen in disbelief as he takes a pull on this beer. Now that would be priceless.
The SixPackTech ratings for Sam Adams Imperial Stout are:
Taste: A- > Better ‘n Dairy Queen.
Smoothness: A > A throaty slip ‘n’ beer slide.
Drinkability: B+ > Totally fulfilling.
Bang for the buck: B- > This is a rare treat.
ABV: 9.2% (Be Careful.)
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: I’ll be surprised if I like it being that it’s so dark. Even the smell is strong. (sip) Oh… (The rest was punctuated by mouth noises, such as blurg! plah! yuk! mlah! etc. … Turning her into a true beer connoisseur, one beer at a time.)
Watch Jim Koch talk about and “chew” his new beers in the Imperial series.