It is the winter season when we feel the chill in our bones and instantly head for beers with high alcohol contents. That means stouts and porters become the rage.
With that in mind lets get started on a review of some of the better dark and heavies that are out there.
First cap off the rank is
Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout.
7% in a 355ml bottle.
This is one big Stout, fairly hefty alcohol content as all imperials should be as they were brewed for the purpose of sending from the U.K. to Russia and to keep for the long voyage it had to have an above average alcohol level.
The SS Imperial is a strong black colour with a tight coppery head and plenty of small bubbles. The strong roast barley and alcoholic smell hits as if you are the metal plate at a side show strong man competition. It was almost off putting for me personally and unless you like your strong dark beers this one is probably not for you based on aroma alone.
The taste is just as powerful with the malts coming through, smooth but still dominate. Near the end you get a little of the hop flavours. There is a distinct taste of the grain but it does not affect the balance to the point where the beer feels out of whack, e.g. too many hops or excessive malt flavours.
All up this is a beer you can enjoy on a long cold night in front of a fire, I would almost recommend sharing a single bottle with a friend or two in an aperitif style, much like you would a port or a cognac. It definitely deserves such treatment!
Score: 8.5 out of 10.
Next in the Stout Review: Southwark Old Stout