Tuesday, October 30, 2012

536. Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout

It feels like we should have already sampled and discussed this beer, but a careful examination of the records indicates that we have not. After all, this beer is one of Elli’s favorites—it is well nigh impossible to keep any in the basement, even if it is carefully hidden. But I digress. We haven’t, and thus here we are: our second Samuel Smith’s beer. Our previous victim was their Organically Produced Lager. So here we are again: we’re bringing sexy back like it was our job.

Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout pours a rich, dark chocolate with a creamy cocoa-colored head that offers respectable retention. The beer itself initially appears almost black in the glass until tilted to see the light through the sparkling clear fluid, and there are pleasant garnet highlights from the light passing through the beer. Smelling this beer is a pleasure; up front is sweet cocoa and milk chocolate, followed by caramel and a hint of toffee. There is also a slight minty herbal character that I’m attributing to the hops. As it warms roasted malt and coffee starts to creep out, along with a hint of nuttiness, but it is still in the background. All in all, quite beguiling. Flavors open with chocolate with underlying coffee and roasted hints, albeit balanced much more towards the chocolate. The middle is cocoa and hints of both milk and mint; the coffee and roast reassert themselves in the finish, accompanied by sweet milky caramel. The mouthfeel is chewy, rounded, and full; the lighter carbonation helps round the beer, but also allows it to sit enjoyably on the tongue. While the beer has a hint of alcohol flavor and warmth, it plays well with the sweet chocolate flavors. Overall, I’d call it easy-drinking deliciousness. As well, it is always a little different every time we have it. In this one, the slight minty hop character was more pronounced than in previous bottles; it added to the overall character of the beer nicely. Elli initially thought the mint was from the tea she had been drinking.

From the bottle: “Brewed at Samuel Smith’s small, traditional British brewery with well water (the original well sunk in 1758 is still in use), best barley malt, roasted barley, yeast and hops to create a rich flavourful ale; deep chocolate in colour with a roasted barley nose and flavour that is a complexity of malt, hops and yeast. Fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares.’ This distinctive type of ale was originally shipped to Imperial Russia; it was a favourite of Russian nobility.”

ABV: 7.0%

This beer is also registered with the Vegan Society: it is safe and suitable for vegans and vegetarians alike. Take that, Meat-Lover’s Guiness!®


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