Thursday, 25 November 2010

Imperial Russian Stout (Dark Star)

A+ for image. "Imperial Russian Stout" conjures up pre-revolutionary Soviet glory. The bottle is black labelled and the insides might as well be a bottle-shaped infill of coal.

It pours unfussily. The toffee coloured head doesn't hang about, but a filmy froth does, to my eye making fleeting maps of satellite countries yet to be conquered. Coffee, caramel and currants waft on the nose, superpower smells.

First taste is a colossal barrage of dark malt, warming alcohol, cane-sugar and chocolate. The alcohol (10.5%abv) loiters around the tongue almost like a spirit, especially on the following intake of breath. I picked out a slight vanilla note in this heady concerto.

The finish is a powerful thing of wonder. The bitterness does what it ought to in a strong stout, level out the malty sweetness and no more. This is a treasure of a beer, a black gift of stout demolition. If Father Christmas were to be left this instead of mince pies, he would do his round in double quick time and you'd get some damn interesting presents.


9/10 - Do not let your winter pass without this. Potent and smoky - the essence of leather chairs and fight-to-the-death chess games.

- The Broadside

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