Category Archives: Imperial Stout

Dark Horse Brewing–Plead The Fifth

Another seasonal beer that I seem to be enjoying at the wrong time of year.  Dark Horse is a brewery from our friends up north in Michigan.  Not as well known as Bell’s or Founders, if they keep making beers like this they will be one day.

Pours as dark as midnight.  A bit on the thick side too.  It appears there will be no head and as soon as you turn your head, it cascades from bottom to top and you see a light brown family of bubbles forming.  Not much retention, mostly due to the 11% ABV.  While that head is alive, it’s creamy and smooth.

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Sticking your nose in the tulip glass, you’d swear this to be coffee if you had your eyes closed.  The aroma is full of coffee and bittersweet chocolate.  The brewery’s website says there are bits of dark fruits, but I get lost in the chocolate and coffee to find anything else.  However, as the beer warms, caramel malts evolve and make the glass smell like it’s full of Milk Duds.

The flavor of Plead The Fifth is spectacular as the dark fruits come alive, riding in on a wave of licorice.  Chocolate and dark fruit work really well together and they combine to make a treat of this beer.  All the different tastes are subdued and play well together, no one flavor trying to dominate the others.  Even the alcohol is tamed.

It’s super creamy and smooth on the palate, with bitterness only providing balance in the finish.  Aside from that, it’s a mostly sweet beer.  There’s little carbonation, yet this beer is only medium bodied and full of flavor.  Quite a balancing act of so much malt and alcohol, to make it balance and very drinkable.

Overall, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.  Such a monster, but it’s very easy to drink.

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Lagunitas–Imperial Stout

Lagunitas is becoming one of my favorite breweries. Basically everything I’ve had from that brewery has been outstanding.  I expect this Imperial Stout will be no different.

Just look at it.  It’s not the darkest beer ever brewed.  Not exactly black, more of an extremely dark brown with the slightest hints of red when held to a light.  Still, very much opaque.  But look at the head up top.  It’s glorious.  A couple fingers of tan frothy, foamy bubbles do their thing.  The do it for quite a while too.  Great retention.  Even when those foamy bubbles are done, they leave a map of where they’ve been with a thick, pasty lace.

Lagunitas Imp Stout

Not sure they even added hops because the scent is completely dominated by roasted barley malt.  There might be a splash of chocolate malt in there as well.  Heck, they might have even added some coffee because it smells like a smoky cup of coffee with some sort of chocolate flavoring added.  Without the hints of chocolate, it could pass as charcoal.

Can’t think of too many things that taste better than this.  The only thing that comes to mind would be a few other beers that I’ve had, but this is right up there.  I don’t know how they could make it better.  Everything I mentioned about the smell is in the taste.  The chocolate and coffee flavors are magnified and the smoky taste is there as well.  It’s really an epic tasting beer.

Being a stout, it should be smooth and creamy and this beer epitomizes that.  Excessively smooth and creamy, this beer is beyond drinkable.  Somehow they’ve managed to squeeze in 9.9% ABV and 45 IBUs, but I didn’t notice either.  Needless to say, this Imperial Stout is full-bodied and then some.  It’s like a small meal.

As the beer warms a bit and the glass empties, there is a growing heat found in the throat with each sip.  High alcohol eventually produces some warmth and a slight bitterness.  However, this is so good I don’t mind.  There’s a nice balance between smooth and sweet and warm and bitter.

I can’t find fault with this beer.  I’ll be ordering a case or five as soon as I talk with my beer guy.  The best part…this bomber cost $4.79.  But, when you buy in excess like I do, you get a discount, so it only ran me $4.07 before taxes…for something so yummy, I’ll have to confess to stealing.  The ‘snack factor’ for this is literally zero.  You don’t need anything to help kill the bottle.  So happy I bought one of these and already can’t wait for my next bottle.