Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Emperor of Beers

When the temperature drops, I tend to seek the warmth of the indoors, where I can relax, share time with family and friends, and enjoy a good pint.

My choice of beer over the winter months is a good stout or porter, and there is no shortage at this time of year. And the king of dark ales is the Imperial stout.

Over the past few years, I have collected a variety of these powerful ales, and this month, I've decided that I cannot wait any longer to try them. And so, for the next few weeks, I plan to share my opinions of these Imperial stouts.

Some of these ales were purchased as recently as a couple of weeks ago; many have been held for a year or two. One is entering its tenth year in the bottle. So, most of these beers are not available in stores.

Why share my opinion, you may say? Why write about beer that you cannot seek? I'm hoping that, in showing how these strong stouts age over time, you may want to conduct a similar experiment, may want to age beers yourself, so that, when you finally crack one open, you can enjoy a similar experience.

That, or maybe I'm just rubbing in what I have and you may not.

I have nine Imperial stouts from eight different breweries. Seven of these breweries are from Ontario (though one of them no longer exists); one brewery is in Québec, and one more is in New York state. I will review anywhere from one to four ales in a post.

So get ready for some heavy drinking on an empirical level.

I decided to start with an ale that I picked up just a few weeks ago and is still available in the LCBO. I have had this stout many times before but thought I should share my thoughts.
Bolshevik Bastard Imperial Stout (9% ABV)
Nickel Brook Brewing Company
Burlington ON
Appearance: dark walnut to black, with a creamy, deep-taupe head that has rusty highlights, and settles to a thin cap.

Nose: dark-roasted coffee, cedar, and a tinge of turpentine.

Palate: rich coffee with a mild, black licorice, and a hint of cocoa. A good balance of malt and alcohol, with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Overall opinion: this is a rich but easy-to-drink Imperial stout. It exhibits complex flavours, while being pleasing on the palate. It's a great start to my exploration of strong stouts and will help keep me warm on cold nights.

Beer O'Clock rating: 3.5

I know I've been lax in my reviews of late. But rest assured, February will be full of beer, and I will be sure to share my thoughts on more styles of ale over the year.


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