Joseph Formanek's picture

Moonlight Drive

January, 2016
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
5 / 6
34 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

Southbound Brewing Company’s Moonlight Drive is an Imperial Coffee Stout, according to the label. Imperial and Coffee, in that order, are the key words here.    

The first thing noted with this brew is the impact of the coffee aroma immediately upon opening the bottle. The intensity rises to a new level when pouring this opaque, medium-bodied black brew into the glass. A strong roasted coffee character along with lighter peppery and fruity notes, presumably from the coffee beans used, are the overwhelming aromatics emanating from this brew. Any roasted barley or black malt character is hiding behind the coffee. It has a moderate tan stand of head, which does dissipate rather quickly. The strong coffee flavor tends to dominate the palate throughout drinking, leaving a lingering yet surprisingly smooth finish of roasted coffee notes. 

This brew is a coffee lover's dream! The coffee character is very fresh – not burnt or harsh – and quite complex. Unfortunately, at no point does the coffee let up, meaning that the base Imperial Stout can't shine. For a beer evaluated in the Spice, Herb and Vegetable Beer style, there must be a balance between the base beer style and the added character coming from the added ingredients. The best ones have a marriage of flavors that delights, but the fantastic coffee notes in this one are simply too overpowering.