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Ryan Sullivan's Imperial Stout

Judges Rating: 
24 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

A classic American take on Russian Imperial Stout, this is an inky black, brooding monster of a beer. Dancing around the edges of this black hole in a glass are flashes of ruby red highlights, all topped off by a dense, creamy latté colored head. Tons of espresso, Hershey’s dark bittersweet chocolate, and plum notes dominate the aroma, yet the spicy hop and alcohol notes still shine through. Tim was duly impressed by the intensity, richness and integration of the French roast coffee and bright, spicy hop aromas. Pete, on the other hand, enjoyed the Graham cracker and Bing cherry notes that were a counterpoint to the aroma’s overall roastiness. This is a massive beer with a hugely complex flavor profile. Bounding with dark chocolate, treacle, prunes, café au lait, licorice and cherries, this beer’s flavor still maintains a solid balance while camouflaging a substantial alcohol content. The assertive bitterness is derived from hops and judicious additions of dark, roasted malts. As intense as it is, this beer has a silky, creamy texture that renders it perilously drinkable. The panel members all agreed that this is an exceptionally well-crafted example of the style.