Russian Imperial Stouts

It’s been awhile since I posted any beer reviews.  Today I review two Russian Imperial Stouts, one by Joseph James Brewing Company, and the other by Widmer Brothers.

Russian Imperial Stout: Joseph James Brewing Company, Henderson, Nevada.  9.5% ABV.  This beer is aged in bourbon barrels for that unique flavor.

The beer pours jet black, with a dark tan, thick head that fades fairly rapidly.  The aroma is chocolate and vanilla sweet.  The flavor follows the aroma without any surprises.  It’s chocolate with a very nice bourbon taste.  It’s sweet, without the typical stout coffee flavor and bitterness.  The hops balance the sweetness somewhat, but it is by no means a bitter beer, nor does it display any happiness in the flavor (or aroma).  This one is all about the chocolate and bourbon (vanilla).  I highly recommend this beer, especially if you like Russian stouts, and even more so if you like bourbon barrel aged beer.  It’s excellent, but a little pricey.

I sampled this from a 22 oz bomber (sealed with wax).  I purchased it from Total Wine for $15.99.  I actually purchased two bottles – I’m aging one in our wine cellar.  This beer is a real treat, but is definitely a sipping/dessert beer.  In my opinion, it’s worth the price, so go ahead and treat yourself to something special.

Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ’13: Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, Portland, Oregon.  9.3% ABV.  This is an imperial stout brewed with raspberries.

Raspberry Russian pours black with a dark tan creamy head.  The aroma is floral sweet, with raspberry quite evident in the nose.  It possesses a medium body, not as velvety as many other imperial stouts (Stone IRS, Joseph James bourbon barrel stout, Little Levi’s Bourbon Barrel Stout, Mac’s Black Forest Stout), but nonetheless, has a nice mouthfeel.

The flavor is somewhat typical IRS – chocolate and coffee notes, with roasted barley bitterness.  The coffee is more evident than the chocolate, but even that is tempered by the raspberry sweetness.  I would say the coffee predominates with the raspberry next and then the chocolate in the background.  There is a lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue well after swallowing.

This beer is OK, but not what I expected.  The raspberry lends a very unusual flavor.  It’s not your typical bittersweet beer.  I saw this at Total Wine, was intrigued by the name of the beer and the description (IRS brewed with raspberries) and decided to give it a try.  It’s not bad, but in my opinion, not worth the price ($12.99 for a 22 oz bottle).  Having said that however, I must add that Sheila tried it and liked it (the girl who doesn’t like dark beer).  Go figure!  I don’t think she would drink 22 oz of it, but liked it a lot when tasting just a small sample.

Now that you know what’s out there, go have a beer adventure (try some new beer).  Cheers!

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