Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beer Review: Smuttynose Imperial Stout

Reviewing the Smuttynose Imperial Stout by Smuttynose Brewing Company.
Score: 84

2011 vintage bottle served in a snifter glass slightly chilled.

Appearance: Pours about 3/4 fingers of tan head, settles down into a thin lace across the top of the beer. About as dark as they come. Excellent lacing. A dark brown-black used motor oil color that is completely opaque. Quite inviting. 4/5

Smell: Unsweetened chocolate and raisin. Some dark fruit and faint cherry aroma as well. Hint of smoky vanilla? Noticeable booziness in the nose. 3/5

Taste: Charred chocolate mixed with a little vanilla. Roasted barley as well, but not very sweet. A little raisin or fig flavor too. Some hop bitterness. Noticeable alcohol string on both the mid-palate and finish. Finishes with long lasting, unsweetened, bitter chocolate. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Very dry finish. 4/5

Overall: Though some of the flavors in this one really work, the alcohol was very unbalanced and detracted from the enjoyable aspects of the beer. As the beer warmed, the alcohol's distraction only increased. This one certainly has potential, perhaps with a lower ABV, but overall a disappointment based on my expectations. I certainly would not go out of my way to try this one again.

Recommendation: This is one that I would not recommend for casual beer drinkers. Beer geeks may find this one interesting, as the flavor-potential of this beer certainly makes it worth trying, but the alcohol level is very unbalanced. Sometimes, as in the case of a hop-heavy beer like Founders Devil Dancer, the imbalance can works well with the beer's flavor. Here, however, it was a distraction.

Pairings: Smoked dark meats and rye bread? The alcohol in this beer requires something heavy to counterbalance it.

Cost: $6.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

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