Review: Great Lakes Brewery Imperial Bout

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The folks at GLB decided to throw their fans a holiday treat along side the release of their collaboration with Amsterdam Brewery, Life Sentence IIIPA. The Imperial Bout is a 11.9% ABV Imperial Stout which has been given a dose of cold brew coffee and vanilla pods. It is available from the GLB retail store for $11.95 / 650 mL bottle.

Appearance 

The beer pours a viscous black / brown with a moderate head. As one might expect for an RIS pushing 12%abv, The Imperial Bout leaves a noticeable ‘slick’ on when moved about the walls of the glass.

Aroma

The nose is, somewhat predictably, dominated by dark coffee / espresso notes and vanilla. The overall effect is reminiscent of a big name coffee chain store with notes that remind one of freshly brewed flavoured coffee alongside slightly old ground espresso. The nose has the slightly sharp note one might see in siphon-brewed coffee.

Taste

When cold, the beer is almost completely taken over by a sharp, almost acrid coffee flavour with vanilla coming in near the end. Once given a chance to warm, the 11.9% worth of malt makes its presence known with the familiar American-RIS notes of dark fruit, soy sauce, tobacco and smoke begin to eclipse the coffee.  The finish, when properly warmed is one of molasses and high quality black licorice. I found this beer at its most balanced near or at room temperature. Even there the alcohol, while not completely masked, is well in check and adds a welcome warmth to the slightly sharp feature flavours.

Comments 

This is a solid high-octane RIS with some interesting elements added by the cold-brew coffee and vanilla. At first I wasn’t overly fond of the sharp, slightly acrid note which many high-ABV coffee-stouts develop. However, as the beer warmed this was well tamed by the rich malt and soft vanilla notes both in the nose and on the palate. This would be a great pairing for a dessert such as Christmas pudding with Devonshire Cream.

Score: 9

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