Monday, January 16, 2012

Inspired, and Under the Gun

I was introduced to a wonderful stout last week. I wanted to share it with you, but then I decided not to.

I had a title for that beer review: Velvet Hammer. It was a term that came to mind while I was drinking it. It was an imperial stout with a high alcohol content—some 10.5 percent—but was creamy smooth, and so Velvet Hammer seemed appropriate.

It was delicious. It was wonderful. And I thank Jon from Thursday Pints West for sharing it with me.

Like I said, I wanted to write a review on this beer, but decided against doing it. The reason: it's not available in Ontario. Sure, folks who live in the United States or other countries may have access to it. Not Ontarians. Pity.

The beer was Ten Fidy by Colorado brewery Oskar Blues. If you can get it, do so. It's great stuff.

But I was in the mood to write a beer review, to try a new brew. Because I found Ten Fidy such a lovely imperial stout, I was inspired to have more, and so I went to the LCBO with that style in mind. Here's what I found.

Russian Gun Imperial Stout
Grand River Brewing Company
Cambridge, Ontario
LCBO: $4.60, 500 mL; 8% alc/vol

One of the first things I noticed when I picked up the bottle was that on the side of the label, a date stamp indicated when the beer had been bottled. On this particular bottle, the date was January 10, 2012.

This stuff was fresh.

Pouring the stout into my glass, I noticed a distinct red hue. Yet, holding the glass to the light, no colour escaped the darkness inside. The head was a creamy beige and held together for quite a few minutes after the pour. It looked great in the glass.

On the nose, I caught a creamy coffee tone with tobacco, and I anticipated a wonderful taste. However, the nose and the palate seemed to differ greatly.

In the mouth, I tasted strong, bitter hops, but nothing else. The bitterness seemed to lack any other flavours. On the finish, the bitterness transformed to strong notes of alcohol.

That was it.

I continued to consume this imperial stout over the course of about two hours, wondering if the change in temperature and exposure to air would open this beer up. If it did, I didn't notice it. What I did notice was that the aroma that I first caught after pouring the beer faded over time, until there were no flavours beyond the herbal scent of the hops.

If you've read my other reviews, you know I love bitter beer. I love hops. But I prefer the hops to be carried by other flavours: chocolate, coffee, spices, tobacco. Russian Gun seemed to fall short. And after the wonderful, intense flavours of Ten Fidy, I finished Russian Gun feeling somewhat disappointed.

If you enjoy powerful flavours of hops and a distinct alcohol finish, you might enjoy this imperial stout. If you're looking for more, look elsewhere.

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