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Review by SAP on 09/21/08  
 
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
72 3 9 14 4 6 2008
Pours with a creamy, dense, initially two-finger thick, somewhat browned, dark tan colored head. The beer is quite black colored though it does show flashes of clear, dark chocolate brown when held up directly to the light. The aroma is an interesting mix of chocolate a perceived tartness, smoked almond aromatics (a mix of salt, smoke and toasted nut notes), earthy city roast coffee, a definite spicy wood-like note, a slight must note, as well as a distinct, toasted nutty character that seems to finish things out. After a bit some soft fruit notes of plums left too long under the broiler become noticeable as well. This has an interesting, very complex, yet hard to describe aroma.

Quite dry tasting and actually fairly light, especially considering the strength of the beer. My suspicions of the sour aromatic notes are confirmed towards the finish as this has a definite lactic character to it. There is a slightly smoky, salt-leaning almost peat like note here that mixes with the tartness to remind me a bit of the ocean. While tart it is only lightly so, the beer is very dry with no real sweetness noticeable at all. A very earthy leaning, slightly smoky seeming . The finish also has a faint vanilla note that adds just a hint of perceived sweetness that also makes me noticed a prune-like flavor and some tart plum flavors as this beer warms up. I am not sure what the tea adds to this beer, but I wonder if it influences the smoky notes, the woody character, some tobacco notes, and a certain leafy-like sort of tea quality that becomes a touch more noticeable as I work my way through this beer. This has a nice roast finish to it, though this definitely competes with the tartness to be noticed.

This is quite easy drinking for an Imperial Stout of this strength. The only thing that keeps me from drinking this faster is that it has some really interesting, unique flavors that are quite subtle. This beer is defined by the balance the many competing, yet intertwining components achieve in the glass. This beer has got to be drastically different than when it was first bottled, but it has certainly developed into an interesting departure from the traditional Imperial Stout. My biggest complaint is that it is perhaps more complex than it is good tasting; it almost seems like a better intellectual exercise than a truly tasty beer.

Purchased: Plaza Liquors, Tucson AZ

Served In: Tulip