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David Sapsis's picture

Vladislav Russian Imperial Stout

April, 2017
Judges Rating: 
23 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Judged as BJCP category 33.  Wood Aged Russian Imperial Stout.

Poured into a tulip snifter, the beer appears black-opaque, with a light brown moussy foam that is beautiful while it lasts  -- about three minutes. Such is the ephemeral nature of young love.

The nose presents a huge black coffee and butterscotch start that trails off to dark fruits (plums, dates) and a big woody-vanilla hit that has angles of both ethanol and dark sugar/molasses. Strong, lush, and darkly fruity with a bit of faintly burnt character overall. 

The flavor starts with strong dark espresso and a bit of burnt malt, but immediately transitions to a complex of dark chocolate, toasted nuts, dark dried  fruits (candied plums, dates), a big shot of blackstrap molasses, and... wait for it... ethanol. 

Bitterness is very restrained. Late palate has bourbon, oak and vanilla in spades, and it blends nice with the roasty and fruity-sweet remnants of the ferment. Most of the drying bitterness seems roast malt derived, possibly accentuated by some mineral character from the brewing liquor. The finish is off-dry, bordering on sweet, with lingering dark fruits and a tiny bit of reemergent bitterness that is welcome in it cutting the sweetness of both residuals and alcohol. Mouthfeel is very big and fat, with no real astringency despite the  depth of roastiness that is often tempered from barrel-aging. Conditioning is medium and helps to keep the beer from being cloying.   This is a boozy and roasty stout, but has complexing fruit, woodiness, and dark, cooked sugar going on as well. Would go great with some fresh oysters, and yet I can only imagine that this beer is relatively young, and the roastiness will subside and the beer will age into something different but still wondrous. A little like young love.