Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Imperial Strikes Back

Or `Strikes Black` if you want to take the pun up (down?) to the next level.

Three Imperial Stouts from a trio of terrific breweries duking it out in the ring. A festive heavyweight battle with all three weighing in at 10% dead but who would be king of the ring, the master of malt?
Ding, ding.

First challenger was the neatly named and highly (beer)rated Cocoa Psycho, a Russian Imperial, by those mass-producing miscreants at Brewdog. I`d expected a fair old fizz (by stout standards) when opening this but, out of the three contestants, this one presented as the least carbonated. Average aromatics too. Despite following the Brewdog bottle-pouring tutorials on YouTube (they are there, honestly), the head on this lacked somewhat and disappeared as quick as a Blades` promotion bid. However, Cocoa Psycho tasted better as it was allowed to breathe and warm up a bit but the chocolate elements were more distant than hoped. In the mix though.

Next was the Barrel-Aged Shattered Dream by Siren and this one seems to fill in the gaps left by the previous beer. A better head here, caramel beige in colour crowning a black beauty of a beer. Vanilla and chocolate aromas, sweet taste with chocolate, creamy sweetness and a warming imperious bourbon aftertaste. Very drinkable, deftly disguising the ABV as if 10% was just a dream. Big hitter.

Finally was the Imperial Raspberry Stout from Thornbridge in cahoots with S:t Eriks. Now then, we have blogged this one before a couple of years back and it was excellent but now it has bottle-aged in effect and was therefore a few months past its best before date. However, this did not deter as we had really enjoyed it a few months earlier at a Beer Central bottle share and it has evolved. Sure some of the hop freshness (Bramling Cross here) may have faded but the fruity berry elements have become super sour. You still get an invigorating invite on the nose with a raspberry waft and a beautiful dark berry-tinged body. The taste is a neat mix of sweet maltiness and sour berries with a dollop of molasses and liquorice for good measure. Complex and quite different from the taste of 2013.
King of the Ring?

Cocoa Psycho - a surprisingly sensible         (3rd.)
[From Brewdog Sheffield]
Imperial Raspberry - sour runner-up?           9       (2nd.)
[From Coach & Horses, Dronfield]
BA Shattered Dream - Siren ring the bell   9.5     (1st.)
[From Beer Stop, Dronfield]

In Imperials we trust. Godspeed.

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